On grit, Netflix, and The Punisher (or a meditation on rearranged and delayed gratification)

Rearranging gratification allows me to feel awesome now about a thing that I’ll be doing later.

The value of this cannot be overstated: by making the process of delayed gratification immediately gratifying, the likelihood of adherence skyrockets. As I’ve done here, you link two separate activities together in order to achieve proper gratification rearrangement.

Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is an aged Marine Corps combat veteran who wages a one-man war on organized and violent crime. His ethos is brutally simple: there exists in this world evil, the blackest kind that cannot be rehabilitated or muzzled. This evil will spread like a cancer and must be ended with a strong and decisive hand. Usually, through the liberal use of his M16 or ka-bar knife.

His inciting event, which marked the transition from Frank Castle to The Punisher, was the death of his family in the crossfire of a mob hit. One sunny day in Central park, the Castles sat down for a lunchtime picnic when Maria, Lisa, and Frank Junior (wife, daughter, son, respectively) were killed in a hail of gunfire a gunman botched the assassination of a mob boss.

The agony surrounding his family’s death forced him into a darkness that turned him into judge, jury, and executioner. With his finely-honed military skills, he has waged sustained combat against organized crime ever since. My favorite run of The Punisher was written by Garth Ennis from ’04 – ’09 in the Marvel MAX imprint, where he battled a giant killer named Barracuda, a Soviet-forged Russian general, and elements of the US military itself. 

The Punisher is featured heavily in the second season of Daredevil on Netflix. The thirteen episode season is available to view in its entirety on the Friday before this #LongFormSundays post. To rearrange gratification, I will delay binge-watching this Daredevil season in exchange for a chance to ramble about my favorite comic book character aka this post.

Within the Marvel Comics lore, Frank served originally in the jungles of southeast Asia during the Vietnam War as a force recon marine. Some adaptations have him aging in real-time, approaching the end of middle-age, while other writers have bumped him to an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran to keep him more timely, and better able to absorb damaging blows.

Writing this #LongFormSundays post felt so easy. Honestly, this feels like I’m taking a week off! And this is my reward for watching my favorite comic book character brought to life in an award-winning television show  I just have to wait until after my first Gastrointestinal (Course Four) exam. This is the rearranged gratification aspect. I get to enjoy writing this post now, which makes studying easier because I don’t have to work too much on this, and later I’ll binge. Lots of gratification all-around.

He is not the God of Thunder nor a big green menaceHe is the embodiment of devoting yourself to a specific cause, wholeheartedly and without abandon. This is also the appeal of Batman/Bruce Wayne. At their core, they are both men that have been forever changed by violence, who then go about utilizing every tool of violence to ensure it does not happen to other families.

I admire The Punisher. Fear is at the root of Frank Castle fear creates the environment for his creation, such as human trafficking, rape, murder, and genocide. I wish these elements of the human condition did not exist, but they do and The Punisher is the clearest antidote to this fear. To some in this world, the rules are clear and will be enforced. This has powerful fascist overtones, but is also a soothing fairy-tale that makes the dark less scary.

Delayed gratification looks at life in a vacuum. It’s kind of painful and not terribly fun because it’s just a long waiting game that depends on grit and determination. Both are skills and attributes that are worth developing in a useful individual, but not necessary to grind and test at all times. Rearranged gratifications stacks behaviors in a way that better reflects life making it feel really good to do good things.

There are no happy endings in The Punisher. When he has a role to play in the story, fear has already done a great deal of damage. He comes in and takes out the trash. He can’t put together the broken china any better than you can. If he could, then he would probably fix his own.

For an outstanding (and graphically violent) introduction to The Punisher, check out this 10min short film Dirty Laundry featuring Thomas Jane, who starred as Frank in the 2004 movie adaptation.



8 thoughts on “On grit, Netflix, and The Punisher (or a meditation on rearranged and delayed gratification)

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