Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is about to get even darker, and a little more anti-heroic. Today Marvel’s Television division announced that Jon Bernthal (of Walking Dead fame) has signed on to play the MCU’s version of The Punisher, who’ll be appearing in the next season of Netflix’s Daredevil. For those unfamiliar with The Punisher, also known as Frank Castle, Marvel’s description sums him up pretty nicely.
“He is a vigilante who aims to clean up New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen by any means necessary,” Marvel’s press release reads. “No matter how lethal the results.”
Bernthal took to Twitter to announce his excitement about the role:
Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb said that “Castle’s appearance will bring dramatic changes to the world of Matt Murdock and nothing will be the same,” but if you really think about it, the Punisher popping up in Hell’s Kitchen makes almost perfect sense for Daredevil.
Earlier this year Daredevil proved that Marvel wasn’t afraid of expanding its storytelling to include superheroes with more dubious morals, vicious fighting styles, and a decided lack of traditionally “super” super powers. Compared to Daredevil (Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox) the Punisher is everything Daredevil the show was, but turned up to eleven. Unlike Daredevil, whose powers are derived from heightened senses and extensive martial arts conditioning, the Punisher’s abilities are entirely based on his training as a highly specialized Marine and his fondness for deadly weapons.
Marvel’s decision to introduce the Punisher into the its current cinematic mythos is also telling of its commitment to introducing big-name characters through television first, as opposed to films. In 2013, Marvel announced a partnership with Netflix that would see a total of four live-action series released on the streaming service in the next few years. In addition to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage would all be introduced to the MCU through their own individual Netflix series. The four series would eventually converge into an Avengers-esque miniseries entitled the Defenders that would presumably feature the four lone heroes teaming up.
Though they’re both fan favorites, the Punisher and Daredevil are best known, cinematically, for their critically-panned, box-office flops that were created before Marvel regained its rights to both properties. In stealthily rebooting them on the small screen instead of dropping them into the next Captain America whole cloth, it’s more than possible that Marvel has much larger plans for the characters in the not too distant future. After all, Marvel’s Phase 3 wraps up in 2019.