For years, Frank Castle was the comic book industry’s leading anti-hero as the Punisher. He stood alone as the only character who fought the “good fight” but would do anything to win it. However, when Jason Todd was resurrected as Little Red Hood, he raised the bar on the anti-hero game and put a new spin on cleaning up the streets of organized crime and the tactics with which he achieved his goals.
The Punisher is known for the creative yet blunt brutal force he uses to bring about justice. He is empowered by the pain of losing his family and takes it out on anyone who gets in his way. Similarly, Jason Todd also has pain in his past. At first, that gave him a self-righteous sense of justice that ultimately only masked revenge. However, their similarities are rooted in different ideals that drastically differentiate the two anti-heroes.
The Red Hood and Punisher had evil beginnings
Introduced in amazing spider man #129 (by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr.), after losing his family to gang violence, the Punisher began attacking mob members, killing them one by one. Spider-Man (who has a big problem with this) got in Castle’s way, making him the main target of the Punisher. Eventually, Castle realized the error in his ways when the Jackal, whom he was working with at the time, murdered people without honor. This started a new approach to crime fighting for the Punisher, as he began to consider the gray area between good and evil. And while Castle doesn’t often work with partners or on a team, over the years he’s developed a respect for the purity and kind nature that Spider-Man exuded all those years ago.
In contrast, Jason Todd had a much more tumultuous history that directly affected him before he became Little Red Hood. Jason Todd is the adopted son of Bruce Wayne, who served as the second Robin. Jason always had a chip on his shoulder that led to a penchant for violence. Like Robin, Jason was captured and beaten to death by the Joker. Years later, he was reintroduced to the DC Universe in the story “Under the Hood” (by Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke) when he was resurrected by Talia Al Ghul. His anger at Bruce Wayne for allowing criminals like the Joker to continue to do to others what they did to him almost drives Jason crazy. He became the Red Hood and a thorn in Batman’s side as he littered the streets of Gotham with the bodies of any and all he considered to be criminals.
How The Punisher And Red Hood Have Changed Over The Years
The Marvel Universe is usually a more positive and forgiving place compared to the DC Universe. Gotham’s heroes have it twice as hard when it comes to feelings of hopelessness seeing Batman’s rogues gallery continually out on the streets. For years, this shaped Jason Todd’s approach to “crime-fighting,” as the torment of watching one villain after another go unpunished kept the anguish of his own tragedy at the forefront of his mind. the. This led to him nearly killing Batman during the Battle for the Cowl only so he could take Bruce’s place and use the bat mantle to exact personal revenge on him.
By contrast, characters in the Marvel Universe tend to get involved in major events with other heroes, regardless of their own agendas. During Marvel’s Civil war, Castle pushed against the “anti-hero” stigma when he stepped in and saved Peter Parker’s life, turning him over to the safety of Captain America’s team. This act alone was a huge step for Castle in redefining the dogmas by which he had lived his life up to that point. By choosing sides and protecting Peter, he demonstrated an openness to an agenda that was not tied to his own.
Recently, Jason Todd has also come to accept a perspective that allows for more nuance when it comes to villains. He has accepted some of his contempt for Batman and has even led his own team of heroes with the Outlaws. However, Jason and Frank still have two distinctly different sets of ideals that stem from their fundamental moral underpinnings. Ultimately, the Punisher seeks justice, while the Red Hood always comes back for revenge. Thus making the “hero” in Frank Castle better and more effective than the “anti-hero” Red Hood will forever be indebted to.