While fans far-and-wide may be incredibly excited about the prospect of The Punisher being rebooted to fit more directly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the last actor to play him, Jon Bernthal, isn’t necessarily sold on the idea yet. For those unfamiliar, Bernthal played Frank Castle, better known as the Marvel vigilante The Punisher, in the Netflix series Daredevil before spinning off with his own standalone series that lasted for two seasons. Unfortunately, The Punisher, Daredevil and their fellow connected shows Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and The Defenders were all canceled. Now, after years away, it’s up to Disney which of these heroes, if any, they want to reboot and put into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, speaking on The Fourth Wall Podcast, Jon Bernthal shared his less-than-favorable thoughts on the idea of putting a character so dark and violent into the otherwise lighthearted world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor said that he doesn’t want to see the character handled in a “light” way. He views Frank Castle as a man who lives in darkness and, unlike characters like The Hulk or The Winter Soldier, is in no big rush to get out of that darkness.
Jon Bernthal even said that he would be willing to reprise his role of The Punisher provided he could do it in the same dark, gritty spirit as the Netflix shows. He told the podcast host that he understands that Frank Castle means so much to fans of the source material that he simply wouldn’t be able to bring himself to play anything less than what he feels they deserved. His comments echo those he previously made to ScreenRant in September when he noted that he only wants to work on the project if it’s got the same DNA as the Netflix show.
It’s worth noting that the entire time Jon Bernthal was playing Frank Castle on Netflix, Marvel envisioned that these series took place within the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It just happened in corners of the world where Steve Rogers and Tony Stark were too high profile to venture. The actual problem that Jon Bernthal is addressing is that all Marvel characters now live on Disney and its family-friendly Disney+ streaming service. So, there’s likely no place alongside WandaVision or Shang-Chi for a character that once literally put his thumbs through a bad guy’s eyes on-screen.
Then again… maybe there is and Jon Bernthal is wrong? Ever since the Marvel and Netflix shows were canceled, there have been calls from each hero’s respective fan base to revive them in other projects if they can’t have their very own TV shows again. Recent rumors indicate that Disney and Marvel are planning to cheekily slide characters from the Netflix shows into its upcoming series, thus allowing them to exist within the world, remain canonical and still keep the family-friendly tone that people have come to expect.
For example, it has been rumored and possibly leaked that Charlie Cox will reprise his role as Matt Murdock in the upcoming film Spider-Man: No Way Home wherein he will act not as the superhero Daredevil, but as a lawyer to a legally embattled Peter Parker. Other rumors indicate private investigator Jessica Jones could show up as an ally to She-Hulk in her series. However, these lighthearted examples don’t come close to indicating how Jon Bernthal’s Punisher could come back in a way that the actor would find fitting of the dark source material. Sadly, fans will just have to put their trust in the creative minds behind Marvel. If we’ve seen the last of The Punisher, they can at least take solace in the fact that Bernthal gave it his all.