[SPOILERS for Daredevil season 2 ahead.]
Daredevil season 2 has now incorporated two important characters, in the forms of Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), from the world of Marvel Comics into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and of that pair, it seems fair to say that The Punisher is the one who’s made the bigger splash with his debut as part of the MCU’s Netflix corner. Furthermore, the Daredevil season 2 finale left Frank Castle’s story thread on a note that begged for continuation, whether that be in Daredevil season 3 or a Punisher spinoff series that may or may not be in development already (for his part, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb has downplayed that rumor).
Matt Murdock/Daredevil himself, actor Charlie Cox has come out in support of Bernthal’s Punisher getting his own series, and we’ve likewise argued that Frank Castle needs a corner of the MCU to call his own, rather than having to continue competing with Daredevil for screen/story development time. Bernthal has now come out and made it clear that right now he’s not concerned so much with how The Punisher’s journey continues in the MCU; rather, he’s just invested in making sure that it does continue, in whatever form best allows the anti-hero’s journey to continue packing a punch.
Complex interviewed Bernthal about his work on Daredevil season 2, including the extensive (and grueling) fight scenes that he participated in – prompting Bernthal to praise Daredevil stunt coordinator Phil Silvera for his guidance, calling him “one of the most creative and skilled people in the business.” When asked about his hopes for The Punisher’s MCU future, Bernthal responded:
For me, it’s not a question of what they want to do with a character, it’s more, how are they going to do it, and who’s going to be the ones to do it. This character is in my bones now, he’s in my blood. If they want to go forward in any way, for me it’s just really going to be about making sure we do it in a way that’s raw and intense. I want to push the envelope. I wanna alienate more of the audience and try to bring them back.
One of the noteworthy comic book influences on Daredevil season 2 is that of the Punisher MAX series created by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon (following Gareth Ennis’ run working on Punisher comic stories under the MAX banner). Bernthal confirmed to Complex that Punisher MAX was the big influence on him, adding that he and Daredevil season 2 showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez “seemed to be on the same page with that” as they planned out The Punisher’s story arc for the show. The Punisher MAX narrative, as it were, pits Frank Castle against Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio in the MCU) as well as Bullseye and – eventually – Elektra; who, as foreshadowed by the episode’s final scene, will return to the world of the living following her death in the Daredevil season 2 finale.
Much like Daredevil season 2 loosely adapted elements of Punisher MAX (among other comic book stories), Daredevil season 3 could follow suit and eventually pit both Matt Murdock and Frank Castle against a super-villain like Bullseye – whose own debut in the MCU seems to be but a matter of time at this point – and/or even a newly-resurrected Elektra. Alternatively, Daredevil season 3 could take inspiration from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Born Again” comic book story by having an incarcerated Kingpin seeks his revenge against Matt Murdock (something Fisk’s Daredevil season 2 plot thread laid the foundation for) with Bullseye’s help, while The Punisher heads off on his own adventure in a Punisher Netflix TV series.
Regardless of what happens, it seems fair to assume that the Punisher will, in fact, continue to be a part of the darker (and more dangerous) Netflix corner of the MCU. Whether the folk at Marvel TV decide the character would be better served by a solo series or a role in a third season of Daredevil or even the planned Defenders crossover mini-series, is a question that remains to be answered for now.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced. We’ll keep you posted on the possibility of a Punisher series as the story develops.