Before The Punisher's Frank Castle had his own show, he was first a foil to Matt Murdoch on Marvel's Daredevil in Season 2. This served as a stand-in for the "typical origin story" for a superhero that they get at the beginning of their standalone series. (Think Matt Murdoch working his way up to the suit in Daredevil Season 1, or Danny Rand's discovery of himself in NYC in Iron Fist.) Frank Castle, on the other hand, has already met his first Big Bad that inspired him to become "The Punisher." But who was Schoonover in the world of The Punisher? And why was he so important to Castle becoming the character he is when this new show begins?
Schoonover The Marine
Colonel Ray Schoonover was first introduced as a member of the United States Marine Corps, and the man who had been Frank Castle's direct superior. His first appearance in the show was during the trial of Frank Castle, where Castle was accused of putting down dozens upon dozens of members of organized crime syndicates, including the entire Irish Mob.
Despite Castle's eventual derailing of his own case, thereby guaranteeing his conviction, Schoonover was called as a character witness to testify on the former marine's behalf. On the witness stand, he spoke of Castle's bravery, his dedication to his unit, and how he was not someone who should be thrown in jail, but a hero who deserved the Medal of Honor.
Schoonover The Blacksmith
But, Schoonover had a secret. Upon his return to the United States, he had become a drug lord — the most powerful in New York City. He went by the name of "The Blacksmith." But, not only had he turned away from the righteous path and into a life of crime, but he was part of that infamous Central Park shootout that killed Castle's wife and children.
That shootout wasn't just another day in the gang wars of New York. It was actually a stakeout that had gone terribly wrong. The D.A., Samantha Reyes, had arranged a sting in hopes of unmasking The Blacksmith, and pulling down most of the organized crime in the city. Instead, they wound up with a massacre in Central Park.
Schoonover had been keeping the fact that he was involved with the death of Castle's family a secret from his subordinate. Despite testifying on Castle's behalf, Schoonover was secretly relieved when the conviction came down.
Schoonover The Catalyst
What Schoonover didn't foresee was Wilson Fisk deciding that rather than killing Castle in jail, he would help him escape to be a weapon on the outside.
Once that happened, Schoonover began trying to cover his tracks. He attempted to make it look like Castle was stalking the Reyes' daughter, and then assassinated Reyes herself, in hopes of keeping the name of "The Blacksmith" from getting out, and framing Castle for it. He also went after everyone else who had uncovered too much, including Karen Page. But Castle rescued her in the nick of time.
Frustrated, Schoonover wound up kidnapping Page once she put two and two together. But again, Castle was there to rescue her. He crashed his car into Schoonover and then dragged the injured man to a cabin, while his now-former commander taunted him that if he'd only agreed to join the Blacksmith's gang and push heroin, the entire Castle family would still be alive.
Despite Karen's pleas to Castle to let Schoonover live, to bring him to trial and to expose the drug ring, Castle had to put Schoonover down himself. This was the man who had taught him to be a marine, to fire guns, to be the man he is. He had to kill Schoonover, because in doing so, he proved to himself and everyone else that he was "The Punisher."
How will this story, and Schoonover's ghost, haunt the coming story? We'll learn soon enough. The Punisher arrives with 13 episodes on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.