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We’re four days away from the highly anticipated premiere of Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix and the first reviews are already in. The Punisher, aka Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), is Marvel’s most violent “hero,” with many pundits calling it one of Netflix’s most bloody shows to date.

Fresh off of getting revenge for the murders of his wife and children, Castle is at war again, this time uncovering a conspiracy that runs far deeper than New York’s criminal world.

While Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle is universally loved, most critics agree that the show doesn’t have enough material for 13 episodes, leading to what is described as a very slow-paced first season.

Check out the trailer below and then scroll through our selection of reviews ahead of the premiere.

The good

The Punisher was a gritty, great start for the character. It helped build the character’s past while presenting a self-contained and intriguing story.

Jason Stettner / Movies Gamer Headquarters

Jon Bernthal establishes himself as this generation’s Robert De Niro. His biggest contribution to this character is that he has made him human; hounded by nightmares of his family being murdered before his eyes, wracked with plunging guilt, and filled with seething rage.

Rohan Naahar / Hindustan Times

Thanks to Jon Berthal’s seamless performance as the non-superpowered vigilante Frank Castle and showrunner Steve Lightfoot’s sharp, conscious storytelling, “The Punisher” approaches the high points of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” by introducing a damaged, deadly character and telling his story as one piece of an unjust whole. 

Sonia Saraiya / Variety

The “it’s too long”

Too many episodes keep this very grounded drama from being as compelling as it could be.

Liz Shannon Miller / Indiewire

There is an ill-defined villain, and there isn’t quite enough story to cover the mandatory 13-episode format. Yet its also got the most well-rounded lead of the series to date. 

Richard Gray / The Reel Bits

The confused

The show ranges from fascinating to bland to ridiculous.

Chris Cabin / Collider

The disappointed

For the most part the series — created by Hannibal veteran Steve Lightfoot — trends towards the weaker, duller end of the Marvel/Netflix spectrum, possessing most of the common sins of its predecessors, good and bad, and fewer virtues than the good ones have.

As has unfortunately been the case with Daredevil and the Marvel shows that followed it, Punisher has many more episodes than story to fill them with. 

Alan Sepinwall / Uproxx

The Punisher has the fewest connections to the Marvel Universe in a group of shows that were billed on their interconnected setting and have since notably ignored that they’re in the same world as Iron Man, War Machine and Captain America. In the first six episodes, superheroes have been mentioned once, and then only in a sentence that wouldn’t be out of place for a show where they only existed in comic books.

Susana Polo / Polygon

While you’re on Netflix, you may as well check out these 15 documentaries that will make you a better person.

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