Daredevil and the Punisher have a long and bitter rivalry in Marvel Comics. One wouldn’t exactly call it friendly at first glance. However, Matt has never put the Punisher away for good, and Frank has never killed Daredevil. With that in mind, there is definitely something more going on than just a difference of opinions on how to fight crime.
That said, one would never call them friends either–it just hasn’t ended in one killing the other yet. Daredevil and the Punisher have come to blows many times, and neither would be sad if they never saw the other again. However, there is something more going on here. What is at the core of this rivalry? What sets it apart from the Punisher’s feud with Spider-Man? The Fandom article on this by Billy Arrowsmith is some great additional reading on the subject.
10 A Difference In Opinion
The biggest and most obvious reason for what takes place between Frank and Matt is the difference in approach to fighting crime. Daredevil has an even stricter no-killing policy than most Avengers. The only times he’s ever killed were (arguably) during his first outing as Daredevil, in Shadowland when he was possessed by the Beast of the Hand, and a recent accident in Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto’s run of Daredevil. He does know what it’s like to take a life, but he is thoroughly against doing it.
The Punisher thinks that eye-for-an-eye is the only way to bring any balance to the world, even as he brings chaos wherever he goes. Frank believes that, without his intervention, killers, rapists, and similar assorted monsters will never get the punishment they deserve. Killing isn’t just an easy way to deal with the scum of the world; it’s part of his philosophy.
9 Unshakeable Conviction
Speaking of philosophy, Daredevil and the Punisher have polar opposite perceptions of the world. They are a pair of extremes. Matt Murdock is a devout Catholic with an unshakable faith in the United States criminal justice system. He’s a lawyer and a superhero, and he sees the Punisher’s actions as a vile subversion of that system that Daredevil serves. Frank thinks the system is rotted to its very core, and the Punisher is the corrective for it. The failures of the criminal justice system and law enforcement took Frank Castle’s family away from him, and the Punisher will never stop making the criminals of the world paying for it.
8 Traveling In The Same Circles
Despite this philosophical distance, Daredevil and the Punisher often run into one another because they work near one another. They both operate in New York primarily, and they frequent the seediest parts of the city. Hell’s Kitchen, once upon a time, was considered one of the dirtiest and most crime-ridden parts of the city, and the fictionalized version of it is Daredevil’s stomping grounds. Frank doesn’t generally have neighborhood pride, but Hell’s Kitchen’s propensity for corruption draws him near it.
7 Ear To The Ground, Eyes On The Street
On top of that, Daredevil and the Punisher tend to tackle the same kind of crime. Neither is generally out to save the world; both men handle the day-to-day misery that is bred in poverty and apathy.
Killers, gangs, and crimelords are their bread and butter, with the Kingpin, Bullseye, or the Hand being the biggest threats either is likely to face. This means, in addition to being near one another a lot, Frank and Matt get to see each other handle similar situations in opposite ways.
That’s the thing–despite their deep and unshakable convictions, Daredevil and the Punisher are not incapable of self-reflection. Matt knows what he does must look silly at best and dangerously irresponsible at worst to many people. Frank knows that he’s allowed his crusade to turn him into a blood-soaked monster. They can see how the other operates and have almost certainly longed for it at some point or another. Matt is an angry man who has let that anger drive him to dark places before. Frank was once a family man and remembers what it was like to have anything resembling a normal life–even one has unstable as Matt’s.
5 Frank Deeply Admires Daredevil
That’s another weird hitch here. Frank deeply admires Daredevil. Despite how many times they’ve battled, Frank Castle respects Matt Murdock. He’s seen how committed Matt is to his own version of the same mission, and definitely doesn’t want to see Daredevil retire. Frank knows there is no going back from the path he’s taken–he knows and has seen things that don’t allow for that. However, he largely wants to see Daredevil stick to the path he’s already chosen.
4 Shared Misery
Matt Murdock and Frank Castle have both been through absolute hell. Frank watched his family die in front of him, and Matt never knew his mom and lost both his dad and his eyesight at a relatively young age. Matt has also had his life ripped to pieces on the regular and has watched numerous girlfriends figuratively and literally torn apart by the world.
Many of Matt’s tragedies happened after becoming Daredevil and some even after his first encounter with the Punisher. Frank and Matt understand one another in a deep way as both have been kicked in the face by fate on more than one occasion.
3 Giving A Crap
Consequently, neither man could completely hate the other, even if they tried. On top of that, they are both mostly isolated in their vigilante lives. Matt’s always tried to keep Daredevil apart from Matt Murdock, and he’s never been much one for teams–even if he has teamed up with the likes of Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist many times. He’s no Avengers regular though. In that weird way, the Punisher is one of the most stable relationships that Daredevil has had as a superhero.
2 Condemnation But Not Contempt
On the other end of it, Daredevil doesn’t see the Punisher as subhuman scum. Captain America, the Avengers, and even Spider-Man have expressed that they completely detest the Punisher. While Matt condemns the Punisher’s actions on every level, he still understands Frank enough to not have complete contempt for him. Matt sees the Punisher as a man and not a monster.
1 Powerless In A Super-Powered World
It’s also worth mentioning that the Punisher nor Daredevil have super-strength, the gift of flight, or the ability to shoot lasers from their body. Daredevil has superhuman senses, but his means of fighting crime comes from trained skill and acrobatics. The Punisher has his own training and a boatload of guns. They are aware that they are small-scale measures relegated to their own corner of a world that has the likes of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men running around. In a way, that allows Matt and Frank to feel some sense of solidarity with one another, even if they will almost certainly come to blows the next time they meet.
Marvel's Daredevil and the Punisher have always had a friendly rivalry that some fans don't get. Here it is, explained.