The Punisher arrived on Netflix with a literal bang, and also a banger of a theme song. The new show continues the dark, tortured, broody, and bloody vibe of Marvel's Netflix series with the franchise's most relentlessly gritty story yet, and viewers pick up on that right away thanks to the ominous yet catchy song that plays over its opening credits. If you were wondering what the theme song for The Punisher is, then you are not alone.
The show's opening credits are just as visually captivating as they are musically. Over an inky black backdrop, we see various gun and ammunitions parts float together to finally form the Punisher logo of a large skull. What brings it all together is the music: a haunting, orchestral arrangement for strings that manages to invoke the isolation and interminable determination of the Punisher's mission of vengeance. Arranged by Tyler Bates, a composer with a long history of superhero movies and series under his belt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Watchmen, John Wick), the instrumental theme also has a bit of a character touch, since we go on to see Frank Castle playing the acoustic guitar often throughout the series. With its melancholic guitar plucking, the opening song may also draw on the themes of Bruce Spingsteen, whom we learn fairly early on in the series is Castle's favorite musician.
The gritty, country-tinged theme song also seems to lend itself to a comparison to another major superhero project from this year that also initially shocked audiences with its unexpected reliance on morose, stripped-down acoustic guitars. Much like how Logan separated itself from the rest of the X-Men movies by showing the darker and dingier underbelly of the normally bright and bombastic franchise (with a big help from Johnny Cash's "Hurt" playing in the first trailer), Punisher is attempting to replicate for Netflix's Marvel universe. After all, Punisher was the only major player to strike out on his own and not join The Defenders.
It was clearly very important for The Punisher to get its theme song perfect, since music actually does play a pretty significant part in Frank Castle's life. Castle's guitar was a very important and defining part of himself before his family was murdered and he turned to vigilantism, which we see through various flashbacks. There are clips of sweet moments when Castle would be playing his guitar for his children, and we see him at probably the most excited he's ever been when he finds out his wife bought him Bruce Springsteen concert tickets while he was on duty in the Marines. However, present-day Punisher seems to have set aside his passion for music to focus instead on hammering a wall for countless hours a day and reading Moby Dick.
The scores have also been a massive part in the Marvel Netflix series in distinguishing the divergent tones between each Defenders show. Jessica Jones was able to play up its detective genre by using tinkling pianos and soft jazz as a throwback to classic film noir movies. Luke Cage relied heavily on curating '90s hip-hop music to better transport viewers to Harlem, and Iron Fist incorporated Asian influences in its score to suit its setting as well. The Punisher's more foreboding, acoustic theme is an effective way for the show to tell us that we're in for a more gruesome and no-nonsense superhero story this time around.
The Punisher follows the story of former Marine sniper Frank Castle, whom Netflix viewers first met in the second season of Daredevil last year. Now that he's accepted his vigilante mantle, the standalone series sees Castle confronting his super sketchy military past to get revenge on the men who murdered his family.