100 Essential Superhero Movies – You Decide! The Punisher

Part of finishing off this list of 100 essential superhero movies is bringing in my audience, and so when I got down to the last 20 movies, I decided that I would let you decide. And what better than to reach out to other movie critics and reviewers to let them argue the case for a superhero movie that they are a fan of and at the bottom of the post, there is a poll where you can vote whether or not you agree if it should be included in the 100 Essential Superhero Movies list. But I didn’t want them to have all the fun so today I will be defending the case for The Punisher. Not the more recent one starring Thomas Jane, but the first one back in 1989 starring Dolph Lundgren.


This is going to be a tougher one for me to defend because honestly I’m not the biggest fan of this movie. At least not as a Punisher movie. When I look back at this movie as a generic 80’s vigilante cop movie, it hits a lot of the right notes. I do have to give credit to this movie because it is the first appearance of Frank Castle in live action. And aside from his normally trademark blonde hair, Dolph Lundgren wasn’t a bad choice for the character as he plays the strong, silent, action anti-hero quite well. It also has the great Louis Gossett Jr. as his ex-partner and head of the Punisher task force. On top of that, it’s not an origin story which is refreshing in the day and age where every superhero seems to have to get their origin story told over and over again. Instead, it’s a more interesting angle about a year into the Punisher’s vigilante career, and his exploits have created a power vacuum in the crime world around his city and new rival crime syndicates are now trying to fill it including the Japanese Yakuza.

Punisher Tanaka

Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the innovation in this movie. There’s an odd, drunken, homeless informant. Frank Castle himself has a lair deep in the sewers where he likes to meditate naked for some reason, and instead of his trademark skull on the front of his chest, the filmmakers/studio execs decided that it wasn’t realistic for him to have a giant skull on his chest, but they didn’t want to completely get rid of the skull motif so instead they put it on the hilts of his knives which aren’t prominently featured in the film at all. There’s not too much more to say about this movie, the action is decent for the low budget movie that it is, and it’s always interesting to see the failures of Marvel’s past when you think of how hugely successful they are now. Is this a great superhero movie? No, not really. Is it an essential superhero movie? I leave the answer to that up to you, so please make sure to vote right below in the poll to decide whether or not the 1989 Punisher movie gets included in my 100 Essential Superhero Movies list or not. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on May 9, 2014, in Blogs, Polls and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I say yes. Not the best of The Punisher line of films, for sure. But one that remains re-watchable for the same reason that others, like the early attempts with Captain America, aren’t. It’s entertaining.

    • I agree, it’s generally entertaining if a little cheesy at times. The real problem with the movie is that it rarely feels like a Punisher movie. I could go either way on it but wouldn’t be upset if it makes the cut.

  2. Absolutely! There are far, FAR worse super hero movies out there.

  1. Pingback: 100 Essential Superhero Movies | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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