The violent side of Marvel has had its supporters, and the MCU’s triumph has included more than a few blood-soaked corners:

A Still Of Marvel's Most Violent Series Hit-Monkey
A Still Of Marvel’s Most Violent Series Hit-Monkey

Marvel’s violent side has had its share of advocates, and the wave of projects that have followed the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe includes more than a few blood-soaked corners. The quartet of Netflix programs – notably The Punisher’s two seasons – had previously established a benchmark for brutality that appeared difficult to surpass. A serious take on Frank Castle virtually had to feature a large degree of carnage by default, aided by the lack of censorship and encouraged by Marvel’s recent film success. When it comes to violence, Marvel’s Hit-Monkey, which aired on Hulu on November 17th, outperforms even Castle. The animated series follows the exploits of a deceased hitman who is mystically linked to a Japanese snow monkey who takes up his job for the sake of revenge. The sheer imaginative cruelty of the killings reaches a level that may not be surpassed anytime soon.

The Punisher won the respect of long-time Marvel fans for its mature attitude, while Hit-Monkey is cut from a different cloth:

Marvel's Hit-Monkey is cut from a completely different cloth
Marvel’s Hit-Monkey is cut from a completely different cloth unlike The Punisher series

The Punisher garnered the respect of long-time Marvel fans in part because of its mature approach to the character and the tragedy he’d been through. That was mirrored in the violence, which was gritty, authentic, and frequently terrifying in its suddenness. However, the program tended to save its emotional force for unique situations rather than dilute it via repetition, which heightened the effect of the violence proportionately. It also allowed for extensive reflection on the aftereffects—both in the world and in Castle’s mind—while retaining the pace and energy necessary for a high-end action performance. Hit-Monkey is cut from a separate fabric. With a purposefully ludicrous notion and a lot of smirking at the camera, the violence becomes even more outrageous by default. The tone invites extremes, and with a narrative including all kinds of corruption and criminal misbehavior, actual repercussions are minimized. It may go completely over the top in terms of the number of killings and their grisly details, since it doesn’t need to imbue the kills with the dramatic weight that The Punisher did.

Violence could be seen in Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot,” as the legendary snow monkey takes down a local crime lord’s minions:

A Still from Marvel's Hit-Monkey Season 1, Episode 1, "Pilot,"
A Still from Marvel’s Hit-Monkey Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot,”

That begins right away in Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot,” when the titular snow monkey decimates a local criminal lord’s minions. It features an onscreen beheading and many gunshot fatalities, followed by the slow-burn assassination of Jason Sudeikis’ witty phantom hitman. The ending not only includes the loss of the title character’s family — hundreds of snow monkeys – to assault rifle fire, but also his own retaliatory attack on their perpetrators, which adds five more deaths to the tally. The corpse count continues to rise as the series progresses; Season 1, Episode 2, “Bright Lights, Big City,” begins with a villain’s hand being fed into an industrial meatgrinder, followed by the rest of her getting sliced in half.

The animation of Hit-Monkey allows us to push that envelope further by adding artifice to the bloodshed:

Marvel's Hit-Monkey is a rip-roaring, comedic thrill ride
Marvel’s Hit-Monkey is a rip-roaring, comedic thrill ride

By adding artifice to the violence, the animation allows it to push that limit even farther. Pen-and-ink violence is less shocking than photorealistic violence, giving Hit-Monkey more leeway to cause mayhem. The Punisher can’t keep up since he’d be adopting Hit-exaggeration, Monkey’s which would transform an intended reflection on the long-term ramifications of trauma into a comedy. Hit-Monkey, on the other hand, loses none of its thematic merits by going overboard, and a large part of the fun derives from simply watching the monkey chop down his enemies like wheat. By default, the violence escalates to a new degree. The cost of violence is viewed differently by Hit-Monkey. It does not overlook the loss of the title character’s family or the impact his career has on him, but its excessive tone does not function if it is toned down. More than anything, Hit-Monkey is a clever satire of Quentin Tarantino’s flicks, and skirting the necessary violence would be absurd. Hit-Monkey understands what it is, and it is filled with gore. It would be futile to pretend differently. Hulu is presently airing Season 1 of Marvel’s Hit-Monkey.

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