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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Frank Castle
The Punisher

From: Tom DeFalco, Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide, Dorling Kindersley: New York, NY (2001), pages 84-85:

The man who became the Punisher had intended to be a priest when he grew up. However, Frank Castiglione began to question his vocation when he realized that he had a problem granting forgiveness to people who broke commandments. Shortly after he dropped out of the seminary, Frank met Mario Falconio. They fell in love and were married. Since the priesthood was no longer an option, Frank enlisted in the Marines. He served numerous tours in war zones, and shortened his name to Castle. Frank underwent SEAL (sea, air, and land) and UDT (underwater demolition team) training. He rose to the rank of captain, nicknamed the Punisher because he was so relentless against the enemy. Then a tragic family outing changed his life forever . . .

While on leave in New York, Frank Castle took his wife and two children to Central Park for a picnic. They accidentally stumbled upon a gangland killing. The mobsters feared being identified and immediately opened fire on the Castles. Frank somehow managed to survive, but his wife and children did not. Traumatized by the incident, Frank Castle vowed to punish the mobsters. He deserted the Marines and outfitted himself for a one-man war on crime.

The brutal murder of his family made Frank decide to put his military training to good use. He concentrated on punishing criminals who were beyond the reach of the law. Frank eventually learned the identity of the gang to murdered his family. He hunted them down and eliminated all--before dedicating his life to punishing the entire criminal underworld. Though he uses lethal force against the guilty, the Punisher protects innocent people from harm and he never battles the police.

Before he deserted the Marines to pursue his war on crime, Frank Castle was awarded both the Bronze and Silver Star, and he received four Purple Hearts. He was also scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but his family was murdered days before the ceremony.

Spider-Man and the Punisher have repeatedly teamed up. Frank sees the webhead as an idealistic fool who lacks the stomach to use lethal force. Spider-Man thinks the Punisher is a tormented serial killer who uses unacceptable actions to ultimately achieve his own good intentions. Spidey wants to get Frank off the streets. Though they constantly waver between being allies and adversaries, Spider-Man and the Punisher both try to protect the innocent, and circumstances often force them to work together.


Punisher
Above: Cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #129, featuring the very first appearance of "The Punisher" character. This issue was scripted by Gerry Conway, with art (breakdowns and pencils) by Ross Andru; Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt were the inkers.

The Punisher first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) issue #129 in a story titled "The Punisher Strikes Twice!" The story also featured the Jackle, who was then still a very new villain in Spider-Man's rogue's gallery, but who would go on to become increasingly significant. The issue was written by Gerry Conway with breakdowns and pencil art by Ross Andru. Gerry Conway and Ross Andru are clearly the creators of the Punisher. Conway and Andru collaborated not only on the character's first appearance, but also on the next three comics featuring the character as well: The Amazing Spider-Man issues 134, 135 and Giant-Size Spider-Man #4.

Although the Punisher would later become clearly identified as a character with a devout Catholic background, there was no apparent indication of the character's religious affiliation when he first appeared. If anything, the Punisher's actions and philosophy clearly went against the most cherished, basic tenets of the Catholic Church, which is unstintingly pro-life and opposed to killing, a stance which extends even to absolute opposition to the death penalty: state-sanctioned execution of duly convicted and sentenced criminals. Regardless of the Catholic Church's stance over its long history, certainly in February of 1974, when the Punisher first appeared, it was diametrically opposed to the lethal methods used by Frank Castle.

Eventually, as the Punisher's backstory was revealed in more detail, details about the character's Catholic background were revealed (or invented). It was revealed that Frank Castle had actually been a Catholic seminary student, studying to be a priest. He was shown in contemporary stories attending Catholic confession. As various writers looked for new ways to explore the inherent contradictions and tensions within the character, a number of them gravitated toward utilizing his Catholicism.

One example of overt depiction of the Punisher as a Catholic was What If? (Vol. 2) #44, featuring a story titled "What If Venom possessed the Punisher?" In Venom's actual origin story, the alien symbiote that had functioned as Spider-Man's black and white suit from the Secret Wars was drawn to a praying Catholic parishioner. This took place in the chapel of the same church where the symbiote had previously been defeated when Spider-Man exposed it to the loud sounds of the bell tower. In the actual origin of Venom, the symbiote encountered Eddie Brock, an former co-worker of Peter Parker who harbored a deep hatred for Parker's alter-ego Spider-Man. In this "what if" story, the symbiote encounters not Brock, but Frank Castle, who is clearly portrayed as a Catholic. Although the story is non-canonical, it clearly portrays Frank (like Brock) as a Catholic.

The first twenty-five comics featuring the Punisher are collected in The Essential Punisher, volume 1 (Marvel Comics Group: New York City, 2004). Nothing in any of these stories indicates that the Punisher is Catholic, nor is there anything which suggests any other specific religious affiliation. Clearly the Punisher is a "religious" man, in the sense that he has something he believes in. He is driven in his cause: the eradication of the criminal underground. Also, although his methods are extreme and lethal compared the crime-fighting modus operandi of other vigilantes such as Spider-Man and Captain America, the Punisher has a clearly defined code of ethics. He refuses, for example, to fight police officers, even if it means being arrested.

Aside from clear indications of ethical values and beliefs, and a higher cause or purpose (aspects of "religion" in the broad sense of the term), there is really only one scene in all twenty-five comics in which the Punisher first appears in which the character vaguely indicates some doctrinal or theological religious leanings.

The thirteenth comic featuring the Punisher is The Amazing Spider-Man #202, a story titled "One For Those Long Gone!", published with a March 1979 cover date. In this story, the Punisher crosses paths with Spider-Man once again. The Punisher is seeking vengeance against mobsters who killed a young drug enforcement officer named Mehemet who, as a boy, had rescued the Punisher from death during a mission the Punisher was on in India. On the last page of this issue, the Punisher visits the grave of his young friend, where he lays flowers on the tombstone. The Punisher record the following in his "War Journal" (entry number 522):

I have done my duty, fulfilled my vow. Mehemet's murders are gone.

But so is Mehemet . . . Gone to an eternal rest that still eludes me. For his dear sake, I hope his rest is one of peace. For me . . . even the bright full moon cannot lighten the endless darkness of the night.

The Punisher's words in mourning his friend Mehemet are not clearly Catholic, and could have been said by somebody of nearly any religious background.


Punisher

Frank Castle's original surname is "Castiglione." This is an Italian name, and a name which most Americans would associate with an Italian Catholic. Even this Italian-sounding surname was not apparently originally a part of the Punisher's character. It was apparently not revealed until 1985 - over ten years after the introduction of the character - that Frank Castle's original birth name is "Castiglione."

The first reference to Frank Castle's birthname of "Castiglione" appeared on page 3 of The Punisher #1. This was the first of a five-issue limited series, the first of many series featuring the Punisher as title character. This limited series was written by Steven Grant. The Castiglione name is mentioned by an assistant to the prison warden at the Ryker's Island prison where Frank Castle is incarcerated. After the warden asks, "What've we got on him," the assistant explains:

Not much. His file's cobbled together from news clippings and his service records.

Frank Castle. Born in Queens to Mario and Louisa Castiglione -- parents changed the name when he was six.

Marine captain. Served five years in Vietnam. Decorated eight times. Gets home, takes his wife and kids on a picnic. They stumble into a mob hit. Hitman guns them down. Only Castle lives. He vanishes for a few months. Resurfaces as the Punisher, hunting criminals. From then on, it's all guns and guts. By his way of thinking, we're fighting a war.

The clearly Italian names of the Punisher's parents may have been the first indication that writers and editors at Marvel were planning to write the character as a Catholic. Yet aside from these names, nothing in the five issues of this miniseries focusing entirely on the character suggests his Catholicism. In fact, the Punisher even reveals for the first time that his sexual ethics conflict with Catholic teaching, when (in The Punisher #2) Frank sleeps with an Asian woman named Angela who rescued him after he was injured in a trap set for him by the Kingpin.

Perhaps Steven Grant, the writer of this miniseries, had no intentions of addressing the Punisher's religious affiliation, but the Italian names he gave the Punisher's birth family later inspired other writers to explicitly write about the character's Catholic background.

origin of Punisher, a.k.a. Frank Castiglione

From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):

Other established Catholics in comics include... the X-Men's Kurt (Nightcrawler) Wagner, Eve (Nightshade) Eden and even Frank (the Punisher) Castle.

From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):

Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.

That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?

Explicitly Religious Comics Characters
[list of 20 characters features 8 characters under the "Christian" subheading, including:]
The Punisher, Frank Castle, is a former Catholic seminary student.

From: "Bonus Story: What if Venom Possessed the Punisher?" sub-section of "Alternate Spidey Part 4: This Issue - Spidey Dies!" page, in "Alternate Spideys" section of "Spidey Kicks Butt!" website (http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/AlternateSpidey/AlternateSpideysPart4.html; viewed 17 December 2005):

O.K., so Spidey doesn't get killed in this one - in fact, no superhero gets killed - but since we've just spent most of the first part of this article talking about the Punisher, and Venom will be featured in a "What If?" story next, might as well toss in one featuring all three of these characters...

What If volume II #44 (December 1992), another story written by Kurt Busiek, opens with the Punisher at the infamous Our Lady of Saints Church lighting some candles for his dead wife and children, whose murders sparked his war on crime. Now, he just happens to get there before Eddie Brock shows up - which makes him the unwelcome recipient of the Venom symbiote (in fact, that looks like Brock that the Punisher bumps into on his way out of the church - talking about your timing issues)...

In many ways, this is actually a very logical pairing. The Venom symbiote makes the Punisher virtually unstoppable, and the Punisher gives the symbiote all of the action and vicarious thrills that it needs. You know, rather than invest so much wasted energy in seeking revenge or a re-union with Spider-Man, why didn't the Venom symbiote just seek a more appropriate partner who would give it exactly what it needed - someone like Frank Castle? Unfortunately, I wonder if this story gave Marvel the moronic idea of turning Venom into the Lethal Protector. It was just a few months after this issue appeared that the first Venom miniseries hit the stands, and the ultimate ruination of one of Spidey's most powerful and dangerous villains was assured. Or perhaps the Lethal Protector idea was already the works and this story was a subtle preview. Or - could it have been just a complete coincidence?

From: Radford, Bill, "Holy Superhero! Comic books increasingly making reference to faith", published in Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 May 2006 (http://www.gazette.com/display.php?secid=20; viewed 8 May 2006):

"I think when I go to superheroes, I see there is a religious metaphor to begin with," says comic-book writer Steven T. Seagle. That metaphor is most obvious with Superman, he says.

"He's the one who's better than us. He's more moral than us. He's more pure than us. He makes better choices than us, and therefore he is an example in a way that God or Christ is an example."

Generally, though, comic book characters aren't as simple or pure as they once were. Consider Marvel's Punisher, who exacts deadly vengeance, or Wolverine, who erupts in fits of animal rage.

For more on overt depictions of the Punisher as a Catholic, see, for example, Punisher #30, and Mike Baron's run on the series in general. The Punisher regularly went to confession.

Archie Meets the Punisher: comic book cover
Above: Archie Meets the Punisher, published by Archie Comics and Marvel Comics in 1994. This is just wrong in so many ways, isn't it? ...And yet, oh so right...

Discussion

From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):

07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
wonderfly

What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?

I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...


07-18-2002, 01:30 PM
Machina

This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...

Let's see...

...Frank Castle was once a Catholic priest... But you could say he "fell from grace" there...

From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):

thornnspear
05/03/2003, 21:04

Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...

So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?


overkill
05/04/2003, 16:36

Here's some for future reference that aren't in Heroclix yet.

Firebird's is Catholic. Punisher was Catholic (I'm not sure now). Aurora from Alpha Flight is very Catholic...


hulkamania85
08/17/2003, 12:33

There was an article in the San Diego Union Tribune a while back that was titled "Superheroes reveal secret IDs-faiths". It was mostly about Thing revealing that he was Jewish. At the end of the article it lists religious comic book characters. According to the list, Wolfsbane is a Scottish Presbyterian, Nightcrawler is Catholic (he was trying to become a priest), Daredevil is Catholic, and The Punisher is a former Catholic seminary student.

From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):

Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:34:13
From: The Babaloughesian

Say, that reminds me, for no particular reason -- What about the Punisher? I got the feeling for again, no particular reason that he was perhaps a (lapsed) Catholic. Didn't he literally work for the angels at some point?


Date: 21 Oct 2004 08:26:10
From: The Black Guardian

Let's see... ethnic Italian from New York... gee, I wonder what gave you that idea. :)
(yes, I realize this is stereotypic...)

re: "Didn't he literally work for the angels at some point?"

Yes. I believe this was brought up in another thread about trying to make Punisher more interesting a few weeks back.


Date: 21 Oct 2004 15:21:46
From: Paul O'Brien

re: "Didn't he literally work for the angels at some point?"

Yes, he did. He also rejected them, eventually. The implications have never really been addressed, because it was a hugely unsuccessful story that nobody wants to go near. But I'd assume that the Punisher is a Christian who confidently expects to go to Hell and no longer cares.

From: comments on "Racism against Atheists" post on "Stormy's Corner" blog website, posted 23 March 2006 (http://stormy.blogs.com/stormy/2006/03/racism_against_.html; viewed 10 May 2006):

[from original blog post:] Atheists identified as America's most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study: News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.: "From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."


Great post.

Perhaps one explanation is the negative depiction of atheists in comic books. Most superheroes [believe in God], with a majority being Christians: Superman is a Methodist, Spiderman is a Protestant, X-Man Rogue is a Southern Baptist, X-Man Nightcrawler is a Catholic. Even the Punisher is Catholic. But when it comes to villians, atheism seems to be the rule. The Joker, The Kingpin, The Green Goblin, Sabertooth, and Lex Luthor are all atheists.

Posted by: Layman | March 24, 2006 at 06:55 PM

From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):

Stravo
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm

Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes

...Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If [super-heroes] are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?


NeoGoomba
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:06 pm

The Punisher definitely knows that angels and demons exist.

shudders at Demon Hunter Punisher


Loner
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:57 pm

He [the Punisher] also made a deal with the grim reaper in the Born miniseries.

From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):

Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005

Now I don't think that titles such as "Liberality for all" are the way to go either as its viewpoint is so extreme that it can, based on your perspective, be considered as either fanatical or subtly making fun of consrvative themselves. However I do belive that a center right superhero... would appeal to a large percentage of Americans who may either purchase very few or no comics at all.


kingfish hobo juckie (jdsalmo...), November 30th, 2005

Oh man, so much good stuff in that. Let's begin!

Would the Punisher, J. Jonah Jameson, or Nick Fury count as conservative?

re: "Does the lack of clearly religious characters, prevent those to whom their faith is a defining characteristic form finding characters they can identify with?"

Dude never read Daredevil or Punisher, did he? What about the early Marvel Knights Punisher were Frank Castle was armed with angelic automatics to go cap some demons?

Also, does "clearly religious" mean that they're quoting Scripture in every other panel like some Chick tract?

From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/92a1d043ac0625de; viewed 23 June 2006):

From: Jamie Coville
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

The Punisher was a Priest. Oh and Bushwacker (Gun Arm guy) also was religious.

From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):

Shellhead
02/05/2005, 15:35

I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?

I know Daredevil is. It's a major part of his personality and often occurs in storylines.

I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped.

Anyone have any others?

Marvel Catholics:
Daredevil
Firebird


Rokk_Krinn
02/06/2005, 12:51

Remembered one at 6 a.m. that totally skipped my mind -

Frank Castle, the Punisher.

He even was looking into becoming a priest at one point. Now, I'm sure he pretty much figures God and him are at odds so he may not be a practicing Catholic and I'm also fairly certain part of the reason he's Catholic is because writer's figure that's the default religion of Italian-American characters (e.g.: the Huntress) but, yeah, our favourite gun-wielding maniac is Catholic.


[http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637&page=2]

JasonVoorhees
02/07/2005, 16:20

Frank Castle isn't Cathlic . . . he's a Satan Worshiper!


Everlovinblue
02/12/2005, 07:47

re: Frank Castle isn't Cathlic. . he's a Satan Worshiper!

Ugh... just ugh. So untrue.


I Am The Game
02/12/2005, 09:23

Punisher #30, Mike Baron's run. My favorite issue in the whole series. He goes to confession regularly...


Firebrand32
02/12/2005, 10:01

Punisher was Catholic, and to an extent I believe he still is, though with twisted morals.

From: "How many Atheist superheroes/heroines are there?" forum discussion, started 20 May 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?p=3716053; viewed 24 May 2007):

05-20-2007, 07:30 AM
reenold

Frank Castle is still nominally Catholic, I think, but I am afraid he strays from the doctrine a bit.

From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):

[Reader comments:]

At 5:51 PM, Tom Foss said...

mela said: You have to guess (like Adherents does) to find the good pious people, while the bad ones are rendered as larger than life and thus more painfully obvious.

Is there really that much guesswork? Daredevil, Huntress, and Nightdrawler are all outspoken Catholics. Punisher is a semi-lapsed Catholic. Granted, Catholicism is a subset of Christianity, but that's about equal to the number of outspoken Jewish characters I could name off the top of my head. Given the number of Christmas specials and cross-bearing headstones in comics, I think we can come to some pretty clear conclusions about a lot of non-Catholic Christian characters as well.

From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):

Speedbreaker
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM

I found this great resource entirely by accident:
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html


GC Rust
post Mar 29 2006, 12:18 PM

The Punisher is Catholic? Somebody on that page has been watching a little too much Boondock Saints. :D

Still, an extremely neat read.

Booster Gold is too religious. He's a Hedonist. :D


Paladin
post Mar 29 2006, 04:06 PM

No, that's accurate. Frank Castle was considering becoming a priest before he enlisted in the Marines. He dropped out of that for two reasons:

1. Falling in love.
2. Being unable to forgive those who broke commandments.

It's one of his older characteristics.


Ironbite
post Mar 29 2006, 04:12 PM

Oh he does forgive people who break commandments.

He just sends his forgiveness with bullets.

From: "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on "Millenial Star" website [which comments on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):

[Reader Comments]

Comment from: Eric Russell

What I find ethically disturbing is the relatively new wave of badboy superheroes who are dark and dirty people but obtain the good guy status just because they fight bad guys. In terms of recent movies, I'm thinking Hellboy, Constantine, Spawn, The Punisher, the guys in Sin City, etc. It's like writers want to make their characters as cool as possible to the fanboy masses while still maintaining an image of a hero who does good.

10/12/05 - 01:16

From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):

06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
TheToileteer

You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...

So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? ...Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's (though we do find Cap consulting the New Testament for inspiration during the 1970's, and of course Damien Hellstrom trained for the Roman Ritual). Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice). USAgent, in his stint as Cap, was hinted to be a conservative Protestant. What was the motivation for all this? In the case of Daredevil, his being Catholic became a kind of shorthand for guilt and so on. Nightcrawler was assumed to be Catholic because of his Bavarian origins, Punisher because of his mafia connections...

In these cases, religions were still mainly used as shorthand...

From: "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 by grabbingsand on Metafilter website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):

Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.


[User comments:]

Frank Castle knows he's going to hell, he's just taking everyone else with him.

posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on March 7

From: "Comics and Religion", posted 8 March 2006 on "Savior Machine" blog website ("Personal blog of a Kuwaiti who works on building a community for his peers") (http://www.2by4.org/content/2006/03/08/comics-and-religion/; viewed 19 June 2007):

I've never considered what a super hero's religion was; it was a moot point. It was kinda given that Spiderman, or Superman would be raised under some Judo-Christian values, but it was never evident in the writing or the story. All you knew and cared about was that they were the good guys and were fighting the bad guys.

So when I saw this list of comic book characters religions I was amazed to see the level of research in the writing of these guys. Just look how they figured out that Spiderman is Protestant or Sasquatch is Jewish.

There are about 8 or 9 that are Muslims, but that is more obvious due to the natures of their story.

So this got me thinking, imagine the regular super heroes that we know - like Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, etc. - were actually Muslim. Would it change things much? Would Frank Castle still be the Punisher if he wasn't Catholic? I don't think so, because all these characters have ethical and philosophical ideas that make them do what they do. For Spiderman, it is the classic "with great power comes great responsibility". Even Batman and Punisher share the same views when it comes to criminals, but have different methods of acting on these views...

From: "Your Spiritual Thought for the Day", posted 15 July 2007 on "Roman de Renart" blog website (http://foxeddc.livejournal.com/467235.html; viewed 16 July 2007):

[Reader comments:]

lamuella wrote:
Jul. 16th, 2007 12:25 am

I've always thought that Batman was a Calvinist. His intense believe in personal justice and judgement for intentions would lead me to think that way...


hillgiant wrote:
Jul. 16th, 2007 01:37 am

The Punisher would be a another example of a Calvinist, IMHO. Batman must have had some hope in redemption. Otherwise, he would not have turned criminals over to the authorities.

From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):

Terrific Lines
November 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM

...There have to be all kind of characters. Liberals, conservatives, independents. Heroes or Villains. The Punisheer, for example. I like the character, but if he was a real person I would think he is a criminal who has to be jailed. Why? Because I think that killing people never could be a solution.

I can understand there is a difference between the stories I can read in comic books than in the newspapers. Between what happens in a movie than in the news. My ideas, my opinions, are ruling my life for every decision I do, but also let me enjoy a good story, even if the hero is a killer.

From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):

Brandon Hanvey
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM

I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html


StoneGold
11-29-2005, 02:31 PM

...Or, like Punisher. Granted, Castle was definitely a Catholic. But do you think the Punisher is? Hell, I think his time as an angel actually enforced his disbelief in God. I know it did mine.


Theophilus
11-29-2005, 08:22 PM

...I think Chuck Dixon had some brief references to Frank's Catholicism, but this was before the modern fully pathological interpretation of the Punisher.

I remember a sort of joke where he went to the confessional and the priest was like, "Not again!"


StoneGold
11-29-2005, 09:29 PM

Actually, I'm pretty sure it dates back to Mike Baron. But there's a reason Frank left the seminary for Vietnam. And generally, any religion has been treated as a part of Frank Castle, not the Punisher.

But really, why would any religion want to have itself associated with the Punisher?


Theophilus
11-30-2005, 06:33 AM

Yeah, but since Frank was asking penance for the sins of the Punisher, this was at least a treatment where there was still dramatic tension between Frank and his alter ego.

Realistically, I think the only way Frank could go would be the 'Born' approach. But from a literary perspective, I really enjoyed the tension in Dixon's run. I remember an issue where Frank saved a flag-burner from some angry arms-dealers, lectured him on how people died for that flag as well as how rap does not constitute music, and then killed him some arms dealers but good and took the booty. That was a great issue.

re: "But really, why would any religion want to have itself associated with the Punisher?"

Would you question an edict issued by Frank Castle?


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