The recent casting announcements for Spider-Man 3 seem to have opened the floodgates for what is possible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Worlds are colliding and all characters – past and present – now could theoretically be in play. Even though the upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+ will connect to any future Marvel films, the various Marvel Netflix series have stayed out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years. That divide now looks to be over, as it looks as though Charlie Cox might play Daredevil once again in Spider-Man 3, and a new rumor hints that Jon Bernthal could also be back at Punisher.
Grace Randolph originally stated the rumor, and while her gossip can usually be pretty hit-or-miss, the involvement of Charlie Cox does make this one seem slightly more viable. Considering fans of the Marvel Netflix shows have been vocal for years about wanting to see these characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it does seem like Spider-Man 3 would be the perfect place to fit them in. Randolph states that in addition to Charlie Cox, other favorites like Jon Bernthal’s Punisher and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin could also make appearances. It’s unclear, however, if Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or Iron First will appear as they did in the streaming shows, or if those characters will be absent or recast.
Just last month, Jon Bernthal said that there’s always hope he could return as Punisher in some later project, and Bernthal has praised his Pilgrimage costar Tom Holland, saying he’s one of the best actors he’s ever worked with. With Spider-Man 3 opening up the ideas of multiverses, it’s extremely likely that Bernthal could appear as Punisher, as we might see the “Netflix Marvel” universe in some iteration, although it’s not clear if Bernthal’s Punisher would be little more than a cameo.
In addition to potentially adding Jon Bernthal as Punisher, Spider-Man 3 is already reviving a number of past Marvel characters. Past Spider-Man universes folding into this new one was first hinted at near the end of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, which saw the return of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. Back in October, it was announced that Jamie Foxx would be reprising his role as Electro from 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Even though this news sounded unlikely, the reveal later that Benedict Cumberbatch would play Doctor Strange in the new Spider-Man film made it seem extremely likely Peter Parker’s next adventures would involve the multiverse.
The news for Spider-Man 3 picked up recently, with Alfred Molina also returning to the Spider-Man universe as Doctor Octopus, reprising his role from 2004’s Spider-Man 2. This casting lent credence to the idea that the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be building the Sinister Six out of villains from the past iterations of Spider-Man. Further rumors have claimed that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield might return as former Peter Parkers, while Kirsten Dunst could come back as Mary Jane Watson, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. With so many old faces returning, there’s no reason why Punisher couldn’t also make a cameo.
The Punisher was one of the last series in production for Marvel Television, before Marvel shifted to Disney+ programming. The series ran for two seasons on Netflix, and was a spinoff of Daredevil. While there have been rumors since the show’s cancellation in 2019 that Disney+ or, more likely, Hulu, could revive the series, nothing so far has come of the news.
Yet despite the conclusion of The Punisher, Jon Bernthal has stayed extremely busy. In 2019, Bernthal appeared in The Peanut Butter Falcon and Ford v Ferrari, and earlier this year, Bernthal appeared in the Dakota Fanning drama, Viena and the Fantomes. Bernthal has some intriguing projects coming up, including Small Engine Repair, which he also produced. Bernthal will also appear in The Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, Those Who Wish Me Dead from Hell or High Water writer-director Taylor Sheridan, and a new Netflix film starring Sandra Bullock. Bernthal is currently filming King Richard, about the father of Venus and Serena Williams, starring Will Smith.
While it may have seemed extremely unlikely for the characters from Marvel’s Netflix series to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore, especially after all those shows have been canceled, Spider-Man 3 has opened up the realm of possibilities. With Daredevil seemingly joining the cast, and Punisher now rumored as well, who knows what other past Marvel characters might be joining the fray.