Netflix has brought to life some of the darkest heroes in the Marvel Universe, but nothing can compare to the story of Frank Castle, a former U.S. Marine turned badass vigilante when his family was brutally murdered. Vowing revenge, he became known as The Punisher.
The Punisher was first created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, and John Romita Sr. in 1974, when he made his first official appearance as a villain in The Amazing Spiderman #129 and then again in Frank Miller‘s adaptation of Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #183–184.
He got his own limited series in 1986, and became an official member of the Marvel Universe in 1987, prompting several generations of the comic book antihero. The character was previously portrayed in movies starring Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher (1989), Thomas Jane in The Punisher (2004), and Ray Stevenson in the film, Punisher: War Zone (2008). The new series on Netflix debuted on November 17, 2017, and stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, Ben Barnes as Billy “the Beaut” Russo / Jigsaw, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David “Micro” Lieberman and Amber Rose Revah as Federal Agent Dinah Madani.
Interestingly enough, his image and storyline have become a major influence in pop culture for decades. That’s why Salute has broken down 15 of our favorite musical crossovers with the gun-wielding antihero.
1) “The Punisher Main Title” – Tyler Bates
Musician/Composer Tyler Bates has collaborated with such major film directors as Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead, Sucker Punch), Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween), Neil Marshall (Doomsday), David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, John Wick) and James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) to name a few. In April, Netflix made the announcement that he was picked to compose the soundtrack for the TV series.
In an interview with Variety, Bates said he wanted to “really wanted to get into the dark corners of the Punisher’s mind,” so he decided to add more of a broken blues guitar sound. “I love playing music like that… the rough edges and broken nature of it leaves a great deal of space for emotion and interesting color – and a bit of an attitude. Otherwise it’s not going to be an authentic expression of the idea. There’s a darkness in there that I’m happy to tap into.”
2) “One” – Metallica
Following his debut as a villain in season 2 of Daredevil, Netflix announced The Punisher series with the war-themed Metallica song, “One,” from their fourth studio album …And Justice For All (1988). The song, which went on to be the group’s first Top 40 hit single, tells the story of a World War I soldier who had his arms and legs blown off in combat and is struck blind and unable to speak. It’s an intense track that pairs well with the theme of series.
3) “Benny Blanco” – Frank Castle feat. Joell Ortiz
Just to be clear, we’re talking about @DaRealFrankCast, an underground artist from the Chelsea Elliot Projects in the lower westside section of Manhattan… not the comic book protagonist. Frank Castle of the comic books would probably never listen to anything like this, although they do drop a Wu-Tang Clan reference in episode 7.
4) “War Zone” – Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie wrote the song “War Zone” based on the comic book saga, an appropriate name for the lead single off the 2010 major motion picture soundtrack, Punisher: War Zone. It references to murder and The Punisher’s skull symbol and his future archnemesis, Jigsaw.
5) Hell Broke Luce – Tom Waits
The song “Hell Broke Luce” by Californian singer-songwriter Tom Waits is used to help tell the side story of Lewis Wilson, a PTSD stricken war veteran who has trouble acclimating to normal civilian life, as he slowly descends deeper into his madness throughout the season. The song, obviously not directly referring to Lucas, was picked to help develop him as an integral character.
6) “Kill You” – Eminem
Back when Eminem was making his big comeback, with the release of his 2009 album Relapse, he teamed up with XXL and Marvel comics to do a hip-hop crossover with the beloved antihero. In the comic, Shady is performing “Kill You,” off his critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Marshall Mather LP, when the show is interrupted. It turned out that it was because of a firefight between The Punisher and the recurring supervillain, Barracuda.
7) “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” – Marilyn Manson
The track from Marilyn Manson‘s 2015 The Pale Emperor is used in the first sequence of episode 11, where we see Castle having just recently figured out that Russo was the one working for Agent Orange and that his former partner sold him out to help smuggle heroin out of the Middle East.
8) “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98)” – Big Pun feat. Fat. Joe
We couldn’t do a “Punisher” playlist without a shoutout to the Bronx rapper Big Pun, who is the first Latino rapper to have a certified platinum solo album. His debut album, Capital Punishment, peaked at no. 5 on the Billboard 200 charts. It also features “Twinz” featuring Fat Joe on this sample of the 1992 Dr. Dre track “Deep Cover,” which was the first thing he recorded after his departure from N.W.A.
9) “Wish It Was True” – The White Buffalo
Singer-songwriter Jake Smith has been performing as The White Buffalo since 2002. Since then he has released six full-length studio albums, three extended plays, and has been featured in the FX hit motorcycle drama Sons of Anarchy, the Showtime original series Californication, and the Walt Disney movie, The Lone Ranger (2013). The song, “Wish It Was True,” is featured at the end of episode 3 of the Netflix series, as Frank Castle and Operation: Cerberus fight there way through Kandahar on a covert mission led by Agent Orange.
10) “Sun Is Shining” – Lady Tanaka
Although the 1989 Australian-American action movie by director Mark Goldblatt took little from the comic books, it did introduce us to some exciting new characters including Yakuza mob boss and villain Lady Tanaka. Years later, an ambient electronic music producer adopted the name of the film’s killer geisha antagonist.
11) “Brooklyn/No Excuses” – D.K. The Punisher
Multi-platinum producer/songwriter D.K. The Punisher has written tracks for artists such as Justin Bieber, Jill Scott, Little Simz, Mac Miller, Isaiah Rashad, and Anderson .Paak. His latest project, the aptly named Castle EP, is an instrumental electronic/hip-hop beat tape, featuring the track “Brooklyn/No Excuses.”
12) “Bullet With A Name” – Nonpoint
It was between this or Filter‘s “Hey Man Nice Shot,” but we figured this was much better suited for the badass gun-toting, cigar-smoking vigilante. Nonpoint, a rap-metal band from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., had their first brush with success with this track from their 2005 album, To the Pain. “Bullet with a Name” would go on to peak at No. 22 on the Mainstream Rock charts that year.
13) “The Beautiful & the Damned” – G. Eazy feat. Zoe Nash
Before becoming disfigured into The Punishers archnemesis, Billy “The Beaut” Russo uses his charm to seduce special agent Madani into giving him details on Castle’s whereabouts. Russo is the founder of Anvil, a private military firm with the purpose of providing protection and security services by any means necessary. Russo is both the beautiful and the damned in this story, as his face is eventually mangled by The Punisher in a fit of revenge, as payback for the death of his family.
14) “Penthouse Pauper” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Towards the end of the season, we hear this classic from Creedence Clearwater Revival as we get to know the real truth about who Billy Russo is and what he ultimately will become.
15) “Step Up” – Drowning Pool
The song from Dallas-based heavy metal group Drowning Pool appears in the end credits of the 2004 motion picture, The Punisher. The soundtrack also includes Seether feat. Amy Lee of Evanescence, Trapt, Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, Chevelle, Hatebreed and Submersed among others.
STREAM: SALUTE TO MARVEL COMIC’S ‘THE PUNISHER’