Even though the Punisher is responsible for permanently stopping countless criminals, Frank Castle is a better hero without his murderous alter ego.

One of Marvel Comics’ most iconic crime-fighting vigilantes is unarguably the Punisher, due mostly to his methods of unforgiving brutality–though if Frank Castle were to tone down his brutal nature and even rid himself of the ‘Punisher’ persona entirely, he’d actually be a better hero, and the X-Men prove it.

Frank Castle’s journey to becoming the Punisher is one that he had been on his entire life, though it wouldn’t culminate into true metamorphosis until the day his family was killed right before his very eyes. Castle was always prone to violence as he grew up in poverty and witnessed atrocious crimes everyday that were consistently going unpunished. Frank killed his first victim when he was just a child, burned him alive and watched as the flesh melted off his bones. From that point on, it became impossible for Frank to lead a normal life as he craved gruesome violence in the name of justice–but he could direct himself, which is why he joined the military and became a marine. But, when his time as a U.S. soldier came to end, Castle was just back at square one–then, the unthinkable happened. Frank’s family was murdered in front of him by two warring gangs having a shootout in the park. This made Castle snap, and after applying everything he learned in the marine corps mixed with his inherent interest and skill in killing, Frank Castle became the Punisher–though the world may have been a better place if he hadn’t.


Related: Daredevil And Punisher Are Finally Ready For Their Epic Holy War

Frank Castle Chose to Save People Instead of Killing Them in Age of Apocalypse

Punisher's fate in the Age of Apocalypse.

In X-Universe #2 by Scott Lobdell, Terry Kavanagh, Carlos Pacheco, and Terry Dodson, readers are taken to the alternate reality of the Age of Apocalypse, a world where the X-Men are led by Magneto and are fighting for their lives against the tyrannical rule of En Sabah Nur. However, this particular two-issue story doesn’t follow the X-Men and their efforts against Apocalypse, but rather what became of nearly every other Marvel Comics hero in this splintered timeline. While a number of heroes never got the chance to properly exist at all, like Spider-Man (who was unceremoniously killed before getting powers) or Captain America (who was never awoken from his frozen slumber), others simply existed in other forms. For instance, Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers never got powers, but she became a spec-ops soldier skilled enough to get the drop on Wolverine and even save his life. Similarly, Frank Castle never became the Punisher, and instead committed his life to peace as a monk.

In the Age of Apocalypse, Frank Castle’s family was killed in En Sabah Nur’s cullings alongside millions of other ‘flatscans’ (or non-mutants). Rather than committing himself to a life of vengeance as the Punisher, Frank decided to use his life to find peace in a world where all hope seemed lost. After becoming a monk, Brother Frank and his monastery opened their doors to both humans and mutants who didn’t want to end up killed or tortured by Apocalypse. In the end, Castle saved countless people in those early days of Apocalypse’s rule–and that, right there, is why he’s a better hero than he was as the Punisher.

The Punisher kills people, whereas this issue proves that Frank Castle has the capacity to save people–proving that he’s not only better off without the Punisher on a personal and spiritual level, but that he’s also a better hero than his murderous alter-ego ever will be.

More: Tony Stark Isn’t Iron Man in X-Men’s Darkest Timeline, He’s Spider-Man

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