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Netflix postpones ‘Marvel’s The Punisher’ after Las Vegas massacre

The premiere of

The premiere of "Marvel's The Punisher," which is heavy on gun violence, is being postponed out of respect for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Netflix said on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Photo Credit: Netflix / Jessica Miglio

In the first television-related fallout from the Oct. 1 massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas, Netflix has postponed a special premiere and rollout of “Marvel’s The Punisher,” its sixth series from Marvel, and potentially among its most violent.

Netflix on Thursday also pulled out of a pre-scheduled panel session at New York Comic Con, which began Thursday. Along with the Comic Con panel, the streaming service had planned a special surprise launch of the series in October, according to some fan sites, rumored to be as early as Saturday.

Netflix had never announced an official date — instead teasing fans by redacting a date from promotions — hoping the element of surprise would galvanize the new series’ already huge fan base. Netflix and Marvel had hoped to mimic a strategy now frequently deployed by the music industry: The surprise album “drop,” when albums from major stars (most recently including Drake, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna and Radiohead) arrive with little or no fanfare.

“Marvel’s The Punisher” is now expected to be launched later this fall. A spokeswoman for Netflix said, “We never announced a premiere date and have not yet.”

“The Punisher” is based on a popular action hero from the Marvel universe dating back to the mid-1970s — Frank Castiglione, otherwise known as Frank Castle, a former Marine captain turned vigilante who witnesses a gangland execution of his wife and children in Central Park. Jon Bernthal — who introduced the character in the second season of “Daredevil” — will reprise the role.

While each of the Marvel series for Netflix contain violence, the gun violence in “The Punisher” is extreme — indeed, the opening credits feature numerous guns, including semi-automatic rifles.

In a statement after pulling the series from Comic Con, Netflix and Marvel said, “We are stunned and saddened by this week’s senseless act in Las Vegas. After careful consideration, Netflix and Marvel have decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for Marvel’s The Punisher to participate in New York Comic-Con. Our thoughts continue to be with the victims and those affected by this tragedy.”

“Marvel’s The Punisher” picks up after Castle has avenged the murder of his family members, then subsequently uncovers a vast conspiracy in New York City (like the other Marvel series, this was also filmed in New York). When announcing “The Punisher” in 2016, the series showrunner, Steve Lightfoot, said in a statement: “For me, the complexity and unpredictability of Frank Castle make him an incredibly compelling character and I couldn’t be more excited to dive into his world. After watching Jon’s performance in ‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ I could not be more excited to be working with him to further develop and progress the story of this anti-hero in a show of his own.”

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