One of the joys of these types of "shared universes" like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all the in-house references and easter eggs dotted throughout the plot for the hardcore fans to find. Marvel's The Punisher is no exception. Being based from the world of comics means we get references from two directions, both from the already established MCU and from the source material. There is at least one major Marvel easter egg in The Punisher per episode in this first season. Warning: This post contains spoilers from The Punisher Season 1.
So where have you seen that image before? Or why *does* that line seem so familiar? Let's run down all the callbacks and Easter eggs tucked away in The Punishers' inaugural season.
Episode 1: Frank's Reading Material
In the opening episode Frank is reading Moby Dick. That's not really an in world Marvel easter egg, but it is a reminder of who Castle is: He's a man like the famous Captain Ahab, always finding the white whale and chasing him again, in an endless quest for revenge that has no end but death for all.
This comes up again later in the episode, when Frank is talking to Curtis. His friend is trying to pull him out of the endless cycle of revenge, but Frank isn't hearing him. He thinks he's retired, but it won't last long. There's always another sighting of the White Whale.
Episode 2: Not The Only Ghost in New York
At the beginning of episode 2, Frank is contacted via payphone by Micro, the NSA analyst who is also in hiding because he knows about the tape of what happened in Kandahar. But what he says could be taken more than one way: "You're not the only ghost in New York."
Of course, Micro is speaking of himself, but my mind immediately jumped to another "dead man" who isn't actually dead, because his real life persona and his vigilante persona could no longer coincide in this city: Daredevil, Matt Murdock. As those who watched The Defenders know, he too is another ghost in New York City, who might one day join up with Punisher's team of the non-living.
Episode 3: The Scrabble Words
War is long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer panic. In one of those stretches of boredom, we see a scrabble game underway as the Black Ops teams awaits their mission. Some of the words: "DIE" "TITS" "SWARMING" "MURDER" "ARMOR" "INTERMENT" and "FUBAR."
That last one isn't in the scrabble dictionary by the way. But not a bad play. Because the situation they're about to realize they've been put in and the things they're gonna be asked to do are deffo: fubar.
Episode 4: Vietnam
The Punisher comics were originally published starting in 1975. Frank Castle was a marine, recently back from a war, and had lost his whole family to gang violence on the streets of his supposedly safe home country.
But that wasn't Iraq he was in, or Afghanistan. This being 1975. Castle was a Vietnam vet, as were all his buddies, including Curtis. To update, they've obviously moved the war timetable up. But that mans when Curtis is supposed to be talking about his own service in Vietnam, suddenly it becomes "his father's service" in Vietnam. Cute way of keeping the details, just assigning them to the last generation.
Episode 5: Agent Orange
At the beginning of episode 5, we finally learn the real name of "Agent Orange": William Rawlins is a character straight out of the Marvel The Punisher comics. The show hews pretty closely to that character's story line, too.
In the comics Rawlins is a CIA agent who happens to be involved in the heroin trade. here, Gunner reveals everything is bigger than Castle originally understood it to be. Agent Orange, Ray Schoonover (Castle's former commander who he killed in Daredevil Season 2) and the guy in charge of the morgue were using KIA marines and dead POW bodies to ship back tons of heroin to the states.
(So *that's* how Schoonover became "The Blacksmith" and the biggest drug kingpin in NYC....)
Episode 6: Raven & Blackbird
More to come...