Most everyone is familiar with Marvel’s popular anti-hero badboy, the Punisher, and the fact that he has a really cool looking skull logo. (Nearly all of Marvel’s big heroes have logos or symbols, and Punisher is no different.) What you may not know is that there’s actually a lot of symbology behind the Punisher, his logo and his catchphrase. Why is the Punisher Skull gaining popularity with police and military members? We’ll explain everything and then tell you where you can buy the best Punisher Skull products on the internet!


Symbolism Behind The Punisher And His Skull

The Punisher wasn’t always treated as a popular character in the Marvel franchise. He was originally sort of an annoyance to the superheroes, and he often got in Spiderman’s way. So, he’s definitely come a long way, and it’s mostly due to people relating to his sense of revenge and vigilantism. Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher, is a former U.S. Marine who was the victim of a hit made against his entire family. His family was killed, and he was left for dead, assuming he’d die too. He didn’t, and that was the start of a lot of revenge killings. 


Why does he wear the Punisher Skull? The Death’s Head Skull is actually used on his vest because it’s bulletproof and it draws fire to a place on his body that’s protected. What’s more, it’s supposed to be intimidating because it’s the last image that many people see before he kills them. It’s a callback to his days in Vietnam when he used the image to toy with the soldiers who captured Castle. 


Punisher Skull Meaning for Police and Military

When you learn that Frank Castle is a former marine, it’s no surprise that members of the military identify heavily with him. Castle’s catchphrase is “Si vis paceum, para bellum”, which is Latin for “If you want peace, prepare for war.” So, naturally soldiers, military officials and police officers can identify with that sort of thinking because their jobs are ultimately to keep the peace, which isn’t always an easy job to complete.


During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it wasn’t at all unusual to see buildings and territories tagged with the skull. This is because the American Sniper, Chris Kyle’s unit marked their territories and gear with the skull and called themselves “the Punishers”. 


In 2014 police started using the Punisher skull too and combining it with the thin blue line. This was because there was a lot of tension between Americans and police officers, and the officers started wearing the Punisher skull in solidarity. Popular use of the Punisher skull by police officers has only grown over the years, and this may be why: In an interview with the Vulture an officer named Jesse Murrieta said “Frank Castle does to bad guys and girls what we sometimes wish we could legally do, Castle doesn’t see shades of grey, which, unfortunately, the American justice system is littered with and which tends to slow down and sometimes even hinder victims of crime from getting the justice they deserve.” 


This line of thinking has caused some backlash and is quite controversial, of course. In 2017 there was a public outcry and call for a police chief in Kentucky to remove the Punisher skull emblem from 8 different squad cars. But as io9’s writer, Beth Elderkin, points out, the Punisher is a murderer. She says “The job of a police officer is to uphold the law, to serve and protect. The Punisher kills people he feels deserve it. There’s a big, dangerous difference between those two things- and there should be.” 


A lot of Punisher fans point out that Frank Castle hasn’t historically been a fan of the criminal justice system or the officers that enforce it. As a matter of fact, his character embodies the ideals of vigilante justice and the failure of the criminal justice system as a whole. Many people feel that when police officers wear the Punisher skull, they’re wearing a symbol that indicates they’re not on the system’s side. And while that may be well and good in theory, a police officer that doesn’t follow any rules can be a very dangerous thing, as the call for police reform in the country has already pointed out. 


Many people feel that whether you like Frank Castle and his morals is irrelevant when you put on the uniform and the badge. They feel it’s morally reprehensible for police officers to look up to a fictional murderer who stands against many of the ideals they’re supposed to uphold. 


In fact, writers of the Punisher comics seem to be in agreement with that line of thinking. In a 2019 issue of the comic (Punisher #13), Castle is cornered by two officers who notice his logo and drop their weapons, telling him how much they look up to him. He proceeds to beat them down and tells them “I’ll only say this once: We are not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave that up a long time ago. You don’t do what I do. Nobody does. You boys need a role model? His name is Captain America and he’d be happy to have you.” 


Where You Can Buy the Best Punisher Skull Products

Thin Blue Line Skull Flag

This is a gorgeous way for police officers to voice their frustrations with the system! It’s a 3x5 foot one-sided flag with a black background, the elongated Punisher skull with the thin blue line flag overlaid on it. It’s also a great way to show off your support of local law enforcement.

Patriotic American Flag Skull Short Sleeve Shirt

 

This isn’t your typical Punisher skull logo! It has an overlay of a bright red-white-and-blue American flag. This is a great shirt of any red-blooded, patriotic American. It makes a thoughtful gift idea close to holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the 4th of July. You can also gift it to military members or police officers to show your support. It’s a way to wear your cause and express yourself with brilliantly vibrant colors and iconic imagery!

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