Back to Daredevil, let’s skip to episode four. In Penny and Dime, Karen Page discovers an investigative side, and starts digging in Frank Castle‘s past… and we finally see his family, albeit in photograph only. The wife is Maria Castle, portrayed by Lauren Gray Weinerth, and as you can guess she doesn’t appear much in the show. Maria is the only member of the Castle family to have appeared in every single portrayal of the character, starting from 1989 The Punisher, where she was renamed Julie and she was played by May Lloyd; she only appeared in a flashback, where she burnt alive with her two daughters. In the following movie of the same name, Maria was played by Samantha Mathis, and we get to know her a little as a loving wife and mother before she gets run over by John Saint with his truck. In Punisher: War Zone Maria once again appears only in a photo, this time as a corpse. Now, time to see who the wife of Frank Castle really is.
Not much is known about Maria’s early life, not even her maiden name. She was born in New York City, and when she was still pretty young she met a nice guy, Francis Castiglione, whom she fell in love with. Castiglione had another love in his life: the army, and Maria knew it from the very beginning. When the boy enlisted, the two of them got married just before he left for the training camp, and she officially became the wife of a soldier. Her husband rose in ranks rapidly, while Maria waited for him at home… where she found out she was pregnant with their first child. While Francis was becoming a captain, Maria gave birth to Lisa, the first new member of the family… and the baby’s father could only meet her briefly before being sent to Vietnam. Maria and Lisa stayed at home while Francis spent two turns in war, but finally he came back with medals appointed to his chest: this was the chance the Castigliones had to live a happy and peaceful life. Maria got pregnant a second time, and she gave birth to Francis Jr., a boy who was meant to seal the happiness of their family… but her husband never really came back, and it became clear that he was still with his mind in Vietnam, and that he desperately wanted to come back. Despite fearing for him, Maria understood how much important it was for her husband to come back to his men still fighting, and she supported him when he decided to legally change his name in Frank Castle in order to be (illegally) sent to Vietnam for a third time. Finally, the war ended, and Frank came back home for good, with a new job as a trainer that kept him near home. The nightmare of having her husband risking his life every day was finally over, and Maria could start breathing again.
Things, however, weren’t that easy at all: despite being physically home, Frank’s mind was still in the middle of the war, and it took him some time before realizing that he was finally in peace, with people who loved him. Maria did her best to help her husband, being by his side during the bursts of rage and the nights of tears, always letting Frank take his time even to open up with her, sharing his burden (something that he seldom did). Maria had to fight with all herself the thought that her husband just didn’t want to come back to them, that he loved the marines more than he loved his family… but finally Frank made it, and even the war nightmares started to be just a bad memory. Maria’s husband, finally, was back, and he wanted to make amend for all the time he had spent far from home… being it physically or just psychologically. Frank’s way to start a brand new life with his family turned out to be one day in Central Park, just like every other normal family who never knew the problems they did: Maria was more than happy, and the kids as well. They organised a picnic at Sheep’s Meadow green, and while Maria and Frank were preparing, the kids started to play… going too close to the spot a local Mafia gang had chosen for an execution. The gangsters clearly didn’t like the idea of witnesses, so they gunned down the entire family: only Frank emerged barely alive, Maria died on the spot with her children. From beyond the grave, Maria’s soul watched over Frank, seeing her once loving husband becoming a ruthless and brutal vigilante known as The Punisher; in Heaven, she also met the family’s guardian angel, Gadriel, in sorrow for being unable to protect them… but still in time to protect Frank. Maybe.
Maria Castle is a loving and patient woman, with a remarkable inner strength that allows her to run a family of two kids and a broken husband on herself. Despite the many horrible things Frank did in war, Maria still sees in him the good man she married, and she’s the only one able to call him “Angel“… and believe it. In a life of darkness and death like Frank Castle’s one, Maria is one of the few beacons of light.