The creators or originators of any visual iconography have no control over how others interpret, use or co-opt their designs, leading to several symbols being intrinsically tied to one thing despite initially having no connection to it whatsoever. The most prominent example is obviously the swastika, which was derived from an ancient Sanskrit word meaning ‘conducive to well-being’ and was first used as early as 3000 BC.
The point is, people can use any design for anything they want, and after the recent riots at the Capitol, it appears as though Marvel are facing some backlash in relation to the Punisher. Of course, they have absolutely no say in what Frank Castle’s signature skull logo appears on in terms of unofficial merchandise, but one image in particular has led to calls for the violent vigilante to be retired.
As you can see from the reactions below, some critics don’t think that such a well known company should continue to glorify a character who dispenses their own unique brand of street justice, especially when a certain section of society has adopted his iconic symbol for their own means. That being said, not everyone agrees with this, as you can see from these tweets.
The seditionists that invaded the Capitol today wore a Punisher logo. I say @marvel needs to either aggressively enforce their trademark so it isn’t printed everywhere or abandon the Punisher completely. You can’t allow your characters to be used by terrorists. pic.twitter.com/CLHv243N9u
— ComicTropes (@CTropes) January 7, 2021
— BEN BISHOP (@BISHART) January 7, 2021
I'm in the latter camp. The Punisher needs to go away completely. Even Darkman is a goody-two-shoes compared to him, if anything for his self-awareness that he's become a monster. https://t.co/nycajJppsg
— KevinCV #BlackLivesMatter (@GoldenTalesGeek) January 7, 2021
I agree tbh https://t.co/abuxkn7E0I
— ShilsWonderJedi ʬ⁸⁴ (@Shilskenobi22) January 7, 2021
The punisher LITERALLY goes around town MURDERING people. https://t.co/B8hYP417nu
— Young Wilbur the Third (@MitchBO49) January 7, 2021
Have him killed by Squirrel Girl. https://t.co/jPTRTDCbjt
— Brian LaBelle (@brianlabelle) January 7, 2021
No. Do not abandon the Punisher. What they can do is put out a comic making it clear where Frank stands on this…. oh, wait…. they’ve done that already. On second thought, maybe do eliminate Frank for a minute https://t.co/jP3yeG1fEj
— Josh “Thanos” Webb (@FightOnTwist) January 7, 2021
At this point, I wouldn’t be upset if Marvel just killed him off. https://t.co/c1EAkQFbDt
— Phil Spiderman (@Debaser77) January 7, 2021
frank castle would have literally decimated all of these people wtf is this https://t.co/3AddbgtAca
— owner of frank castle’s ass (@dandelionmurdck) January 7, 2021
It’s quite funny to me ’cause Frank would’ve killed this motherfucker right there on the spot. https://t.co/4mLx04QQyM
— Luci S. Dracul (@LuciDracul) January 7, 2021
just want to point out, that frank castle would kill every single one of these fuckers https://t.co/ENjSuYowCi
— Darthpoopsie (@Darthpoopsie88) January 7, 2021
I'm pretty sure that the creator of the Punisher is totally against this. https://t.co/ysrOiiz2I8
— G P Podcast (@g_p_podcast) January 7, 2021
It’s a fucking character. Ppl will use their image however they want. Censoring artists now? GROW UP FUCK https://t.co/P8DpHgXN8v
— medusa (@medusa26938461) January 7, 2021
Obviously, the other side of the argument is that the Punisher’s co-creator Gerry Conway has made it very clear that he condemns any and all uses of Frank’s insignia to promote violence, and just last summer he was asking Disney to sue the police for using it. Not only that, but a new Punisher-inspired Black Lives Matter T-shirt was released to show us what side of the political divide Conway lies on.
In any case, the Punisher is a fictional character from the pages of a comic book, and trying to force Marvel into retiring him would border on the censorship of art. Not to mention that it wouldn’t be reflective of either the company or creator’s personal beliefs anyway.