While the Punisher’s storylines are usually grounded in gritty realism, his latest one pits Marvel’s deadliest antihero against a literal god–and only one character, who has recently been introduced in the MCU as a villain, can help him win this war.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Thor: Love and Thunder, the God of Thunder finds himself in the presence of every god in the Marvel Universe. Thor hoped to recruit a team of deities to help him kill Gorr the God Butcher before any more gods were killed by his hand. Instead, Thor was ridiculed by Zeus until he was outright attacked by the King of the Gods–a chain of events that led to Thor attacking Zeus with his own lightning bolt. Due to his insolence, Zeus decided to make Thor pay–and he recruited his son, Hercules, to enact his vengeance.
In Avengers #50 by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and John Buscema, Hercules is lost in a realm known as the Land of Shades after he is sent there by a Titan named Typhon. As Hercules wanders these cursed lands, he comes across the Gods of Olympus and discovers that they, too, were sent to the Land of Shades by Typhon. When the Greek demigod Hercules encountered his father, Zeus, readers were assuredly expecting some form of conflict as Zeus recently exiled Hercules from Olympus–much to the pleasure of Ares who used Hercules’ exile as a way to get closer to Zeus. Instead, however, Zeus met Hercules with open arms and assigned him the task of defeating Typhon, and in doing so, regaining his honor. When Ares violently objected to Zeus’ decision to trust Hercules with such a task, Zeus forced him back with a swat of his hand, making Ares walk away from the situation in shame as his power was nothing compared to that of Zeus.
How Hercules’ Could Help the Punisher Against a Mutual Enemy
In the latest run of the Punisher comic series by Jason Aaron, Jesús Saiz, and Paul Azaceta, the Punisher has been marked as the High Slayer of the Hand and imbued with the power of the demonic beast the ninja clan worships. By aligning himself with the Hand, the Punisher made himself the arch enemy of the God of War himself, Ares. In Punisher #6, the Punisher and Ares fight one-on-one for the first time, and Frank Castle is easily defeated even with his new demonic powers. As it stands, it seems as though the Punisher has no chance in defeating the God of War–unless he aligns himself with another Marvel Comics warrior: Hercules.
If the Punisher could convince Hercules to help him defeat Ares–who is also the demigod’s long-time rival as shown in Avengers #50–Hercules could then call upon his father, Zeus, to end Ares’ villainous influence on the world once and for all. Zeus is easily more powerful than Ares, and he has fought the God of War on Hercules’ behalf before–so if the Punisher could get Hercules to help him (since Hercules has been known to help Marvel’s heroes in the past), then it is likely Zeus would be willing to lend assistance to his son. While it is highly unlikely any of that would actually happen, it is theoretically possible–and given the Punisher’s current power level in relation to that of Ares, relying on Hercules (who is effectively an MCU villain at this point in time) may be his only option.