Calls To Retire Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ Escalate After Capitol Hill Rioters Seen Wearing Iconic Symbol
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: Actor Jon Bernthal attends Marvel's "The Punisher" Los Angeles premiere at the ArcLight Hollywood on January 14, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Marvel’s iconic character “The Punisher” has fallen subject to a cancel campaign after Capitol Hill rioters were seen wearing his famous skull symbol last week.

As Fox News noted, The Punisher has often been a subject of controversy due to the character’s willingness to employ violence, torture, and murder to achieve his ends.

“The character’s symbol has been a topic of debate for years after it was adopted as a symbol of pride among some in the U.S. military and law enforcement, as well as some far-right activists. Many have found it alarming that police, as well as potentially violent right-leaning groups, find kinship with Marvel’s most violent and murderous anti-hero,” reported the outlet.

At the Capitol Hill riots, for instance, the now-infamous paramilitary man carrying zip ties was wearing The Punisher symbol, which prompted a social media campaign to have the character and his symbol retired for good.

“The seditionists that invaded the Capitol today wore a Punisher logo. I say @marvel needs to either aggressively enforce their trademark so it isn’t printed everywhere or abandon the Punisher completely. You can’t allow your characters to be used by terrorists,” said ComicTropes.

Nic Osborn, editor-in-chief at ComicWatchHQ, said that while the character may not need a retirement, he will require an “evolution” in light of recent events.

“I’ve attempted to articulate my thoughts on the controversy of the Punisher, his place at Marvel and in our own reality, to take a closer look at how to move forward with the character,” said Osborn. “There’s one thing that is certain, it’s time for a change. An all too necessary evolution.”

“When it comes to Punisher (Pepe, PogChamp, etc), it doesn’t matter what meanings were originally intended. Enough people see these symbols as aligned with their beliefs and the continued use of them encourages those people to think their numbers are larger. It’s that simple,” said another user.

Marvel has not commented on the controversy. Actor Jon Bernthal, who played The Punisher in the Netflix series, said that critics are missing the point of the character.

“I’m a #Punisher fan. No matter how many nut-jobs steal his logo, I’ll still be a Punisher fan. They don’t understand what it truly symbolizes. If they did, they wouldn’t wear it. And I’m not going to let them take it from me,” said one user. 

“I’m with you. Beautiful work,” Bernthal said in response. “These people are misguided, lost, and afraid. They have nothing to do with what Frank stands for or is about. Big love. J.”

Prominent comic book writer Garth Ennis strongly condemned the rioters and their use of the symbol in an interview with SYFY WIRE.

“The people wearing the logo in this context are kidding themselves, just like the police officers who wore it over the summer,”  he said. “What they actually want is to wear an apparently scary symbol on a T-shirt, throw their weight around a bit, then go home to the wife and kids and resume everyday life. They’ve thought no harder about the Punisher symbol than the halfwits I saw [on Wednesday], the ones waving the Stars & Stripes while invading the Capitol building.”

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