The Punisher is a true character study that compels audiences to contemplate lingering moral questions. The dynamic between Frank Castle and Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani best demonstrates the impact perspective has on the narrative itself.
The beginning labels the two characters as opposites. Dinah has a clearly defined agenda: Find and bring in Frank Castle. But as her story becomes deeply intertwined with Frank Castle, her moral compass becomes increasingly skewed and she leads audiences on a journey about self awareness and understanding.
“You are still left with a sense of, what is right and wrong? What are they feeling? Nothing is neatly packaged,” Amber Rose Revah tells Player.One. “With Dinah, she starts on a trajectory toward the truth-- right and wrong are quite black and white. The more she sees the corruption that's going on, she starts to understand how complex the whole situation is. She maintains her core values, but she grows through the show. She finds some level of empathy with Frank.”
The empathy characters considred morally correct, such as Dinah and Karen Page, have for Frank Castle are the only reason The Punisher is thought of as an anti-hero even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has tried him for more than 37 murders.
“You couldn't really say antagonist or protagonist,” Revah explains. “It’s interesting with Dinah and Frank because they are both on this journey that parallels each other. Neither are as simple as baddie, they are both after something and they have all these layers. That's what makes him more real and relatable. None of us are wholly good or bad, we are a big mix of everything.”
Dinah does not condone The Punisher’s violence. When she finds out The Punisher is the man who murdered the Afghani operative in the covert-op she is investigating, Dinah was forced to make a choice. But instead of choosing whether Frank Castle’s actions were justified, she chose to understand his circumstances.
“Frank says something like, ‘It was much more difficult than right and wrong. In war, there’s no right and wrong. There’s orders.’ And that I think really hits home with current politics and with everything. For me when I read that, I feel my stomach churning because it such an important point to make,” she said. “That understanding, being able to step outside of what we think is our natural inclination toward anything-- to say, ‘Hold on, just because I believe something, does that make it true and does that make it right?’ Having the ability to do that---because I think then we move forward in the world. Otherwise we stagnate and go, ‘No, this is me and I'm right.’ Things are so much more complicated.”
The Punisher leaves audiences with little resolution, especially when it comes to Dinah and Frank. Both will need to re-evaluate their moral code to move forward. Hopefully, Frank will save more people than he murders and, given this experience, Dinah will proceed through the ranks of Homeland Security with a cautious eye.
“Our show is quite a slow burner so we have time to develop the characters, which is a pleasure to be able to have because there is a lot of TV that just throws everything in quite quickly. It's very exciting to see where it may go if there is a season 2. I’ll probably find out when you do about any storylines,” she said.
The Punisher now streaming on Netflix.