Earlier this year, it was confirmed that actor Jon Bernthal’s well-received take on the Marvel anti-hero The Punisher from Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 would spin off into his own Netflix series. Most reports have suggested we may not get Marvel’s Punisher until 2018; however, a few interesting developments have suggested that we may be seeing Frank Castle a little sooner.
The fan chatter started with a Tweet from the New York Comic Con official account, promoting the convention that is happening in October:
“Due to his Netflix production schedule, @jonnybernthal will only be at #NYCC on Saturday and Sunday,” the Tweet said.
— New York Comic Con (@NY_Comic_Con) September 21, 2016
With no indications that the Punisher spin-off has begun shooting yet, nor any word that Marvel’s Defenders is beginning production, that seemed a little fishy to many. Then, there was another interesting hint dropped: At a recent screening for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 premiere, Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb introduced some special guests. Comic book writer and artist Felipe Smith, who created the Robbie Reyes version of the Ghost Rider character (who is currently on the ABC series) was there, as was a man who Loeb introduced as “the creator of The Punisher,” Gerry Conway, who wrote Frank Castle’s first appearance in issue #129 of The Amazing Spider-Man back in 1974.
“You will understand why I brought all of these people here later in the season, and why it makes sense,” Loeb was reported as saying.
Take this all with not a pinch but a bucket of salt, though. It is quite possible that Bernthal’s schedule legitimately is tied up for something like an appearance in Iron Fist; however, Loeb’s comments would and should make a Marvel fan take pause. The latest season for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its new 10PM timeslot has promised to be a darker take, and we’ve already seen a major Marvel figure in the Ghost Rider. A dark, violent, and ground-level character like Frank Castle would definitely fit in with this supposed new direction.
Marvel and Jeph Loeb seem to frequently say “it’s all connected,” but there has been very little of that on the screen. Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has referenced the Sokovia Accords, the Netflix shows have mentioned the Battle of New York and other various characters in passing, and sometimes MCU actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Jaimie Alexander, and Cobie Smulders have shown up, but those moments are few and far between; a stronger connection to remind fans that there truly are connections might be exactly what the ABC series needs. It’s a shame we couldn’t see, say, Daredevil’s response to superhero registration in Captain America: Civil War, or the premiere Marvel superhero team learning that their friend Phil Coulson is still alive. But at the very least, a crossover acknowledging that the TV part of the Marvel Universe is connected would be very welcomed.
Perhaps confirmation of what exactly Bernthal will be doing to reduce his NYCC schedule will be revealed at the convention itself; for now, though, all fans can do is wonder.