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Punisher isn't in the Nietzsche - The Punisher

Punisher isn’t in the Nietzsche

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Recently a post was published discussing the possibility that Frank ‘The Punisher” Castle was possibly the prophetic ubermensch of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

I readily disagree, although Punisher does share some qualities of the ubermensch or more specifcally the “overman,” he isn’t the sort Nietzsche had in mind.

Nietzsche only discusses the overman in his first book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, describing mankind as the bridge between animals and the overman. The overman embodying the next generation, the next level in human progress. A being who creates, leads, and embraces the will to power and the will to live! While Frank Castle is an imposing figure, not bound by conventional superhero morality, he fails to create and falls short of the overman.

The overman isn’t bothered by the morality of the time, but he isn’t a merciless character either. The overman is a creator of new moralities and thus brings the world into a new era, changing the status quo out of pure will.  While Frank Castle isn’t bound by the morality of his peers and colleagues, he doesn’t create a new morality either. He fights a never ending war against crime and evil, everyday a new villain, syndicate, or thug gets gunned down and two more take their place. The fact that Castle is in a perpetual fight for change means that he cannot be the overman, in any respect.

Castle is an agent of destruction and death and garners no true followers which the overman can do and through this generates a new world, a new standard by which to live, and a new morality followed by all. A key of the overman is the will to power, an essential part of all of Nietzschean thought. The will to power enables creation, ambition, and change, it is the driving force within man to achieve.

Punisher isn’t making a change. Of course he is removing the evil from the world, he’s taking out criminals with every reload. But he it is all futile, the difference he’s hoping for never comes and such is the plight of comic heroes and villains. The Joker and Batman constantly fighting, always ending the same way barely giving ground. Superman always battling Lex Luthor. Iron-man always going after Whiplash. Spider-man forced to always fight the Green Goblin. Captain America doing battle with Red Skull. While each super power criminal and hero is up for a Nietzschean analysis none of them could ever be the overman.

Another charge against Punisher is his lethal behavior. He’s too invested in the people and the killing. It can be argued that Punisher needs to kill the villains out of some PTSD induced compulsion.  The overman would be a character who not only kills but whose emotions have no baring, he would understand and feel of course, but his mind would be clear and his actions driven by reason nothing more.

While every hero and villain can be examined under a Nietzschean light, Punisher isn’t one who stands out as the ubermensch and frankly there isn’t a hero or villain who could be. They are all entangled in unending battles for right, or justice, and fail to even see the flaws in themselves. We get the offshoot series and story arches where heroes die, change, become something different, but ultimately they face the same problem over and over again. Never resolving any.

The idea of the overman is just that, an idea, a goal to set ourselves a guide to live by. And unfortunately our heroes are the same.

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