Marvel's Netflix universe has so far been one of the most well-received properties within the comic book genre, especially compared to other television shows under this genre. Season 2 of Daredevil not only brought back the blind vigilante, but also introduced Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher. Viewers became so attached to the anti-hero that waiting for him to appear in other shows would not satisfy the desires of most. Netflix and Marvel have since announced that Bernthal is getting his own show, The Punisher, but no release date has come out just yet.
The rumor mill has pointed to Steve Lightfoot's (Hannibal) Punisher series hitting Netflix 2017, but that does not seem to be the case given production has not yet begun. While one of the more recent reports pointed to Microchip joining to help Frank, the threat that causes him to fight back has not yet been known. It is still a mystery right now as to who it will be, but it appears the villain has been cast.
TVLine is reporting that Ben Barnes has been cast as a series regular as the villain for The Punisher. Barnes may be best known for his role as Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise, but is making more of a dramatic turn with a role in Westworld on HBO. The report indicates that Barnes could be playing a man by the name of Bobby Saint, the son of Howard Saint, who once appeared in Thomas Jane's The Punisher movie played by James Carpinello.
Barnes is not a name that will automatically bring people into the series, but it does provide some potential excitement as a whole. Netflix has done a great job casting people and giving them the chance to shine in the role. Hopefully Barnes will be the latest example of this, especially if he is playing Bobby Saint as reported. Saint is not a big name, with hardly any history in the comics, so the show would be free to do whatever they want with him. After getting big name villains such as Kilgrave, Kingpin, and others for Marvel/Netflix series past, giving The Punisher a villain they can make however they want is an intriguing start.
While Barnes' casting is not yet confirmed, it does show what stages in pre-production that the series is in. Audition videos have already begun to surface for other possible characters, so if casting for the entire series is underway then a 2017 release could be plausible after all. Netflix has typically begun production on these Marvel series roughly a year before they hit, so The Punisher could be the first series that hits after The Defenders is released (sometime) in 2017.
Doing it this way would give Charlie Cox and Krysten Ritter time off before filming Daredevil season 3 and Jessica Jones season 2, respectively (though Ritter has stated before that she is filming Defenders and season 2 of Jessica Jones back-to-back). If a 2017 release is being eyed, expect more updates on The Punisher Netflix TV series in the near future.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. The Defenders and Iron Fist arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, The Punisher and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.