Since the Capitol riots, there’s been a closer look at the culture surrounding the rioters. Companies with services used by people involved in those acts have been distancing themselves. Parler has gone offline. Identified rioters have been removed from Bumble and Tinder. Since seeing The Punisher logo worn by rioters, there have been calls for Marvel to do something about it. According to gossip writer Daniel Richtman, Marvel has been listening, as he claims they are currently considering changing the iconic skull logo for a different image.
The Punisher first appeared in a Spider-Man comic in 1974, wearing a skull on his chest that soon became the Punisher logo. While he first showed up as a villain, his character has grown over the years to be more of an antihero. These types of characters don’t come out and say they’re good or bad, but are often liked because they walk strange moral lines. This makes it easier for audiences to interpret a character how they would like to. It also makes it easier for extremist groups to take a character and adopt its actions and say, “This is what it means”.
After seeing the Punisher logo worn by those at the Capitol riots, actor Jon Bernthal responded, saying that those people were “misguided, lost, and afraid”. This hasn’t stopped people from making suggestions on what Marvel should do about it.
One suggestion has been that this is a call to completely reinvent the character of Frank Castle. This isn’t the first time there has been evidence that The Punisher logo is being used as a symbol of force. The creator of Frank Castle’s character, Gerry Conway, has said that he hopes to “reshape” the character for this moment in history. That could be done through either an evolution, like showing Frank Castle change through a life event, or by restarting the storyline altogether.
There’s also been a recent rumor that Marvel is rebooting Punisher. While they’ll supposedly be keeping Jon Bernthal, this is a good opportunity to make changes to both the Punisher logo and his story arc, if they’re looking to get further away from the violent groups using the skull image.
Some discussions on social media have suggested that Marvel should strictly enforce their copyright on the Punisher logo. While a letter threatening legal action is likely to work against some people, it’s probably not a strong enough tactic for people storming capitol buildings.
This brings the discussion to where insider Daniel Richtman says Marvel is at: changing the Punisher logo. If they move forward, there’s a lot of possible ways for them to handle this, as this change could be a part of a greater character arc. While it isn’t often done in an antihero story, considering the situation, they could have it be part of a story where Frank Castle defines some things as right and some things as wrong. It could also simply happen in the background without ever being mentioned.
Marvel has yet to publicly address the situation with the Punisher logo. While it’s been a few weeks, the conversation has not died down. With them potentially rebooting the series, it seems like a good opportunity to redefine what the Punisher’s logo actually stands for.