As The Punisher circles closer, details have emerged about why Frank Castle operates independently from the rest of the street-level heroes known as The Defenders, which is an intentional move on the part of Marvel. Netflix's universe of street-smart heroes and heroines have become a beloved part of the MCU at large and while they have yet to interact with their big screen counterparts they have worked together - but Frank hasn't been among them.
That makes sense, up to a point. The Punisher first appeared in 1974 in Spider-Man #129. Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru, Frank Castle predated the wave of psychologically tortured anti-heroes who made up a large portion of the 1980s comic book scene. The character has since appeared in multiple film adaptations as well as many Marvel comics storylines, but his character has always operated best alone where he can confront his demons like the murders of his family.
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That's something that Marvel TV took into consideration when writing out their plan for their Netflix programming. Syfy.com sat down with showrunner Steven Lightfoot to discuss Frank Castle's personal history and the challenges of adapting a character like him to the screen. According to Lightfoot, Frank's own show was a happy accident, a deviation from the original plan to bring The Defenders together - possibly inspired by the fans.
When I came in to take the show on, it was always very clear to me that they wanted it to sort of tell its own story and run on its own track and not really intersect with what was happening in The Defenders. That was part of the brief.
I guess I could speculate on the reasons for that, but I think from what I understand the original concept for the four characters that became The Defenders was always the plan and the Punisher spun out of that. But very much certainly when I came in the brief was always that it was to be its own show and its own thing separate from that.
Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle was a standout of the second season of Daredevil. The character's own show has been criticized by some who feel that he represents an outdated stereotype and doesn't deserve as much screen time as he was getting. If this was something that "spun out" of the interest in The Defenders, fans of the Punisher might want to start getting concerned as Frank will need a lot of support to get a second season for his show.
However, there was clearly enough interest in continuing the character's journey. both from Marvel and the fans enthused by Bernthal's performance, to give Frank this chance for a personal storyline to continue his punishment of the criminals of the MCU. How far it will go remains up to the fans.
The Punisher premieres Friday, November 17 on Netflix. Premiere dates for the new seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have not yet been announced.