Jon Bernthal’s Return As Punisher: All We Know

After a run as the character on Netflix, Jon Bernthal could be returning as The Punisher in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

The rumors are hot and heavy, and they don’t look like they will be going away anytime soon. After a three-year departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jon Bernthal appears to be returning to a role that helped continue his rise to Hollywood stardom. That role is as Frank Castle, who is better known as the vigilante The Punisher.


jon bernthal punisher

It has been six years since Jon Bernthal first took up vigilantism as The Punisher when he appeared in the second season of the Netflix hit series, Daredevil. The season introduced Bernthal as The Punisher following the first season that saw Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) deal with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, besting the villain and bringing a little bit of relief from the crime that had been taking over Hell’s Kitchen.

Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle and The Punisher won the actor rave reviews that only built on his rising star, which started with his role as Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead. Although Netflix wasn’t quick on the uptake, they eventually did greenlight Bernthal’s The Punisher series. It ran for two seasons, the first in 2017 and the second, after an ungodly long delay, ran in 2019.

Jon Bernthal didn’t miss a beat from his first performance as The Punisher in Daredevil to his solo outing. Critics and fans alike loved his take on Frank Castle, which is why it was confusing that it took so long between season one and season two, and even more so confusing when Netflix pulled the plug on the series after only two seasons.

It should be noted that Netflix was purging their streaming service of all Marvel series they had going at the time including Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.

The Punisher ran for 26 episodes while on Netflix. The first season found Frank Castle uncovering an even larger conspiracy than the one which involved the deaths of his wife and children. Season two found Frank Castle on the road where he is drawn into the mystery of attempted murder, forcing Castle to decide if he should embrace his alter ego, The Punisher.


Rosario Dawson (upcoming Ahsoka series) starred as Claire Temple in five episodes of season 1 and three episodes in season 2 and was speaking at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo in August when she let slip that Jon Bernthal would be coming back as The Punisher. Was she telling the truth?

“I found out yesterday The Punisher was happening again, so I feel like it’s my second chance,” she said to the audience. “It’s the only one of those shows I wasn’t in, and I love Jon Bernthal, so let’s all make it happen collectively, guys.”

Apparently, her “let’s all make it happen” statement was referring to her making a cameo appearance on the still unannounced official return of Jon Bernthal as The Punisher. But letting news like this slip is a major no-no and news Dawson took back not long after spilling the beans. Maybe the higher-ups at Disney explained her faux pas because Dawson responded to the slip by saying that she had heard The Punisher news from fans, which is why she said what she said. Right.

Jon Bernthal has been asked in the past about a possible return as the violent vigilante to which he did say he’d be interested. He explained his position to The Hollywood Reporter, telling them while he’d be up for another run as The Punisher, his return would only come if the character was handled the way he was originally drawn up.

“So I was really grateful, respectful and weary of the places where that role took me and the world in which I had to live in. That being said, that’s where that character needs to be. It needs to be a level of darkness. I think if there’s any let-up on that character, you do a disservice to the character, to every iteration of the character, to every comic book that’s come before, and to all of the unbelievable fans of the character. This character means so much to people in the military. So like I said before, it’s not about whether you do the character; it’s about whether you can do it right, and I’m only interested in doing it right.”

That should be music to all fans of The Punisher, but what Bernthal was doing was reminding fans (not that they really needed reminding) of the violent nature of The Punisher stories. After he appeared in season 2 of Daredevil, Jon Bernthal went on to lead The Punisher on Netflix. The series ran for 2 seasons and as the name promised, it was filled with punishing violence.

How would Frank Castle’s level of violence translate on Disney+? Fans may already be getting their answer as Disney is dipping its toe into the R-rated superhero market. Both the R-rated films, Deadpool and Logan have made their debut on Disney+.

Not only that, but Deadpool 3 is on its way and with Hugh Jackman joining Ryan Reynolds as Wolverine, the combined pair look to up the Disney R-rated factor. This could just be laying the groundwork for more adult-themed material, which The Punisher fits the mold.

More evidence that Disney is becoming more open to adult material is the fact that Blade is on the schedule of R-rated films coming from the Mouse House and Werewolf by Night recently dropped on Disney+, a special one-episode venture that had a lot more violence in it than seen previously on the Disney+ streaming service.


Rosario Dawson’s slip about Jon Bernthal returning as The Punisher hasn’t been the only thing that has given way to more speculation of an impending return. A recent Instagram post by “actor” Kasey O’Keefe has tongues wagging.

The post is of O’Keefe standing next to Jon Bernthal with the caption, “Jon Bernthal is a tremendous actor!! His range & versatility are attributes I plan on incorporating in my characters & work kudos to a boss!! Looking forward to working with you During Marvel Phase 5!!”

While this all looks and sounds promising, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Looking at O’Keefe’s Instagram page, besides the picture with Jon Bernthal, O’Keefe’s page also has himself standing next to other superstar actors such as Bradley Cooper, Allison Janney, Jessica Chastain, and Jason Sudeikis. In each one he captions them expressing hope that he would be working with them in the future.

Taking an even deeper dive, O’Keefe barely registers a blip on IMDB, though we are not trying to diminish anything he may have done in Hollywood circles. Saying you hope to be working with all the amazing talent seen on his Instagram page and actually doing it are two very different things. But it is Hollywood, so one never knows


Okay, let’s pretend that Rosario Dawson’s slip was right on the money. When exactly would Jon Bernthal make his triumphant return? Would it be for his own series, or would Bernthal’s The Punisher show up in another series?

The best guess would be his return would come via the recently announced Daredevil series, Daredevil: Born Again. This would be for the MCU’s Phase 5, though we don’t have an exact date for this new series. But seeing as that Jon Bernthal first portrayed The Punisher during Daredevil’s second season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see his return be right alongside Daredevil.

It will be interesting to see where this leads Jon Bernthal and The Punisher. With Bernthal’s star on the massive rise after starring in features like Those Who Wish Me Dead with Angelina Jolie and The Many Saints of Newark and TV series such as We Own This City and the newly released American Gigolo, Disney would be smart to bring back Bernthal into the Marvel fold. Time will tell, though, and once we get more news on a possible return, we will be sure to share it.