A year ago progressive news outlets were calling the idea of the culture war a “right-wing conspiracy theory” that had no basis in reality. Yet, the injection of far-left politics into entertainment media had already started years previous, with noticeable propaganda efforts in movies, streaming television, children's shows and books, even commercial advertising was replete with progressive ideological imagery by 2016 onward.
The goal is relatively obvious – To erase competing ideals and viewpoints while saturating the market with only one political vision; a woke vision. It's called social engineering, and anyone who claims this is not happening in the US today is gaslighting.
Strangely, the American comic book industry has become a major battleground in the culture war, with heroic symbols being increasingly erased or hijacked as vehicles for woke talking points. A vast array of comic book characters are now race-swapped, converted to LGBT or they have had their histories rewritten to make them more “acceptable for modern audiences.” At the same time, they promote everything from BLM, to climate change propaganda, to gender identity politics and anti-gun messaging.
Why would leftists target something as frivolous as comic book heroes? Because pop-culture is first and foremost a playground where children grow up, and by rewriting heroes as social justice crusaders and communists they hope to indoctrinate the next generation.
However, one hero figure in particular is seen as so egregious and so triggering that leftists want him memory-holed altogether – The Punisher.
The Punisher character (Frank Castle), originally created by writer Gerry Conway in 1974 with artists Ross Andru and John Romita, was a product of a chaotic era; a reaction to the rise of war, stagflation, instability and exploding crime rates in the US. The Punisher's story is a tragedy of a returning military veteran whose family is killed during what seems to be a gangland hit. With federal agencies doing little to arrest the perpetrators, Castle takes matters into his own hands and begins systematically assassinating the criminals.
The concept of citizen crime stopping and vigilantism was becoming popular in the cultural zeitgeist in the 70s, with many people living in metropolitan areas dealing with increasing criminal violence and unreliable government protection. City governments in places like New York were actively restricting gun rights for law abiding people, which only made things easier for criminals.
The same exact conditions are returning to the US today, and debate is boiling once again on vigilantes (just look at the media fury over Kyle Rittenhouse or Daniel Penny). The mainstream left is adamantly opposed to any form of civilian intervention (unless it's Antifa or BLM), while also being adamantly opposed to any intervention by police. In other words, they want to let criminals run wild and then threaten to prosecute anyone who dares to do anything about it.
The Punisher as an icon has been highly popular among conservatives, military veterans and law enforcement officers in recent years. The trademark skull symbol can be found everywhere, with patches, gear and flags sporting the image, often as a representation of citizens taking matters into their own hands. The symbol was also seen at the January 6th protests.
This has made leftists at Marvel Comics livid. They first attempted to make fundamental changes to the character, including a redesign of his popular skull symbol, as well as taking away his guns and giving him swords in 2021. Instead of fighting against criminal organizations, Frank Castle joins with one, violating his fundamental code of ethics.
This month, though, Marvel officially declared the Punisher persona non grata, eliminating the character as readers know him. Did he go out in a blaze of glory? No, in typical woke fashion Frank Castle is captured by progressive heroes, chained up and forced to go through a struggle session in which he is admonished as a murderer and a terrorist. Marvel even brings the Punisher's wife back from the dead, only so that she can divorce him and take his money and property, and then inform him that his lifelong crusade against the criminal underworld was all for nothing.
The character then “dies” from apparent suicide but the story is left open to his return, just not as the gun-toting hero people know and love.
Marvel writers, including original Punisher creator Gerry Conway, specifically cite the popularity of the character among conservatives as the reason for his virtual elimination. As Newsweek noted, the Punisher was “problematic” for Marvel because conservatives liked him too much. He represents the every-man: He has no superpowers, he's not a billionaire like Batman, but he still fights evil with an immovable will and a lot of guns.
The co-option and erasure of popular heroes (or anti-heroes) is representative of the disturbing politicization of our times. Much like the Cultural Revolution in China, leftist movements in America are systematically tearing down all opposing beliefs from our cultural catalog, and this includes any positive representations of vigilantism. They openly admit why they are doing it; conservatives aren't allowed to be the good guys. They aren't allowed to have heroes. Meaning, if the Punisher was a leftist icon, Marvel would have no problem with him.