When Marvel and Netflix's partnership to create a shared universe - as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - based on The Defenders was first announced, the plan was to debut standalone seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist before a team-up miniseries. However, after successfully launching the New York City-focused universe with the well-received first season of Daredevil, and receiving even more critical acclaim with Jessica Jones season 1, Netflix gave both shows second seasons.
Daredevil season 2 is the next series on the Marvel/Netflix slate to hit the streaming service, and it will introduce fan-favorite comic characters Frank Castle a.k.a. Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung). Early buzz about Bernthal's portrayal of the Punisher made reports of a spinoff based on the vigilante seem like a logical step for Netflix. However, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb has since downplayed those rumors.
Digital Spy spoke to Marvel Television's Executive Vice President about the possibility of a Punisher spinoff but, though Loeb didn't completely shut down a future standalone Punisher series, he said the initial reports seemed to be based more on speculation than definite talks between Marvel and Netflix:
"I think that's something that people are speculating on, as opposed to something that's actually happening. … It's certainly our hope that any of our characters will be embraced and that people want to see more of them."
In addition to briefly discussing the possible Punisher spinoff, Loeb also talked about the critic and fan reception of Jessica Jones, the news of its renewal, and the response to those reports of Netflix's announcement during the Television Critics Association 2016 winter press tour:
"What we're really trying to do is to tell the best stories that we can. For us, the greatest award was when Netflix called and said, 'We'd like to do another season with you.' When they announced that Jessica Jones was getting a second season, every single report said, 'It should come as a surprise to no one that Jessica Jones has received a second season order.' I'm the guy going, 'Well, it was a surprise to me!' It isn't a given in television."
Certainly, as Loeb says, very little in television is a given. When The Defenders universe was first announced, it sounded like a similar plan to Marvel Studios' Phase 1 - introduce each character in their own shows before bringing them together for a team-up. But the reality is quite different with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) making his first appearance in Jessica Jones, and Daredevil season 2 premiering before Luke Cage or Iron Fist have even debuted their first seasons.
Adding to the complications of the Marvel/Netflix slate are these rumors of spinoffs. Loeb has now downplayed the possibility of a Punisher series, but Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said during the 2016 winter TCAs that "any character" in the universe is "on the table" for a spinoff. But, Sarandos also said at the time that there wasn't anything that was being discussed.
So, these comments from Loeb and Sarandos may indicate that a Punisher spinoff isn't currently being discussed by Marvel and Netflix. But, given that their Defenders universe is always evolving and neither flat out said a Punisher spinoff will never happen, it seems Frank Castle's standalone TV show might yet become a reality down the line. It's likely Marvel and Netflix are waiting for Daredevil season 2 to premiere before beginning those discussions in earnest - that is, if they plan to have those talks at all.
Daredevil season 1 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Daredevil season 2 will debut on Netflix on March 18th, 2016, followed by Luke Cage season 1 later in 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced. We’ll keep you updated on the Punisher spinoff as development continues.
Source: Digital Spy
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