*Spoilers for The Punisher and The Defenders Ahead.*
We met Karen Page in the very first episode of Daredevil. An episode that would set the tone for all future Netflix/Marvel shows. And Karen has gone through a lot since then. She’s been accused of murder, she’s killed someone, she’s been a paralegal, had an on-again-off-again relationship with The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, and now she’s an investigative journalist working for the Bulletin. And she’s doing a kick-ass job. When we met Karen, she was tough, no question. But she was scared. She hadn’t really found her footing. But now she’s one of the strongest, not to mention most likable characters in the MCU and it’s time we start giving her the praise she deserves, especially after her role in The Punisher.
Karen Page, played by the fantastic Deborah Ann Woll, may only appear in four episodes of Netflix’s latest Marvel show, but her role is so much larger than that. She acts as our guide through the season, especially in morally-conflicting moments. One of the things that makes her so easy to relate to is, in fact, this conflict. She’s torn because she knows what Frank does is morally wrong, but even though she doesn’t agree with it, even though she’s fought against it in other circumstances, she understands it. And she knows that even though Frank does bad things, he’s not a bad man.
This isn’t talked about in the show, but The Punisher takes place after the events of The Defenders. We can assume it’s only been a short amount of time since Karen lost Matt, and you can see that loss on her face. She still feels that grief, and she feels it more when she sees Frank. Now, there’s no question that Daredevil and The Punisher handled justice two very different ways, but in the end, they weren’t that dissimilar. Protect the innocent, defeat the evil. They just had different definitions of the word ‘defeat’. So when Karen looks at Frank, there’s a part of her that sees Matt and where his decisions led him. She sees Frank on that same path. He isn’t thinking long-term in the beginning of the series, but it’s Karen that gets him to start. It’s her faith in him that allows him to at least consider the possibility that there might be a life for him without this war.
The relationship between Frank and Karen is unquestionably complicated, but it’s also beautiful. Whether you think it’s platonic or romantic, there is an undeniable love between them. A love that makes them willing to die for one another. Despite the fact that they haven’t known each other for very long, in many ways they understand each other better than anyone else. Karen sees herself in Frank, in his anger, his willingness to do anything to protect the people he cares about. And though it scares her, she’s starting to accept that it’s true. And Frank sees himself in Karen, the part that isn’t The Punisher. And like Karen, he’s also afraid. Being The Punisher has given him a purpose, a distraction. I think he truly believed that he would never survive this war. It’s Karen that shows him an alternative.
Karen has been accused on more than one occasion of finding herself too deep in cases/investigations. But that’s who she is – willing to find the truth, to get justice, even if it means putting herself in danger. When Lewis sends a letter directly to her, she’s warned by Ellison not to publish an editorial with her name on it, but she won’t stand for anyone thinking that she agrees with the bomber. She won’t hide behind the paper. She speaks her mind and stands up for what’s right, what’s just, to a dangerous degree. But she still does it.
Karen Page may not wear a super-suit or have heightened abilities, but she’s just as much of a hero as the others. She, like Matt, like Frank, searches for justice. But she doesn’t do it with violence. She does it with a pen. She doesn’t just want bad men to pay for the bad things they do, she wants to expose them. She wants the world to know, she wants the world to remember. Let’s face it. We love watching our favourite superheroes or anti-heroes go head-to-head with bad guys because it’s so out of this world. We love Karen Page because she’s from our world. She’s a woman who tries to do what’s right without any superpowers, without any heightened abilities. We can relate to her. And that’s why we love her.
Having become one of the best characters in the MCU, she’s been asked by outlets if she’d ever consider her own spin-off. And if it’s done right, she’d love to. Whether that will ever come to pass is unclear, but we do have one suggestion for Marvel. Give us more Karen Page, whether that’s in her own spin-off or in future seasons of Daredevil, The Punisher, and The Defenders. We want more, and quite frankly, she deserves more.
The Punisher Is Currently Streaming On Netflix.