Punisher’s MCU Future Is Now Guaranteed After Marvel’s New Villain Twist

Punisher, Kingpin, and Daredevil in various MCU projects

With Marvel’s latest villain twist, the stage is perfectly set for the Punisher’s long-awaited MCU debut in Daredevil: Born Again. Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher, was portrayed by Jon Bernthal in the Netflix TV series Daredevil, and the character was such a success that Bernthal ultimately got his own spin-off show, The Punisher. However, the series, along with the rest of the Marvel shows, were all canceled by early 2019. The character has been on hiatus since, but he will officially join the MCU timeline with Daredevil: Born Again.

Daredevil: Born Again will also see the return of Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin. Both Daredevil and Kingpin have already been integrated into the MCU, with Daredevil’s appearances including She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Echo, and Kingpin appearing in Hawkeye and Echo. Echo, in particular, has set up both characters for their returns in Daredevil: Born Again, with Kingpin cementing his intentions to run for mayor in the Echo post-credits scene.

The MCU’s New York Needs The Punisher Now More Than Ever

Jon Bernthal As Frank Castle Looking Confused Standing In An Alley In The Punisher Season 2

With Kingpin set to make this grab for power, The Punisher’s return is coming at the perfect time in the MCU. The Punisher’s origin is a brutal one, but it makes him perfectly poised to dismantle the type of corruption that Kingpin’s bid (and presumed win) for office will entail. As an anti-hero, The Punisher doesn’t shy away from violence, and it’s due entirely to his past. Having lost his wife and two children to murderers, Frank Castle became willing to do quite literally anything to stop crime, and it’s that sort of reckless gumption that will be needed to stop Kingpin.

This also sets up more conflict between Franks and other MCU heroes with more strict opinions on deadly force. The Punisher was perhaps at his best in Daredevil season 2 when Frank and Matt’s ideologies clashed, forcing both to consider (though not necessarily accept) the flaws in their flavor of vigilante justice. With the Punisher now fully integrated into the MCU at large, other street-level heroes like Spider-Man could similarly find issues with Frank’s methods.

The Punisher Can Make Kingpin More Dangerous

Kingpin with Bullseye in Daredevil season 3

Kingpin has already proven to be a major threat in both Hawkeye and Echo, with Echo especially showcasing his willingness to bludgeon strangers for wronging him or the people he considers family. Still, his interest specifically in becoming Mayor makes Kingpin a very different problem for Daredevil: Born Again. With that position, Kingpin will have access to a different level of organized crime and he can weaponize the public for his own aims. Particularly given his anti-vigilante history, The Punisher can act as the perfect scapegoat for Kingpin to win favor in this way.

The MCU is also perfectly primed for this kind of rhetoric to be effective. Public opinion of heroes like the Avengers has shifted over time, and while the Sokovia Accords were ultimately overturned, they reflect a general anxiety about superheroes that could easily be kicked back up. While it isn’t entirely clear what Kingpin will specifically be up to in Daredevil: Born Again, this complicated relationship between heroes and the public can certainly be exploited, and, with a controversial hero like The Punisher, it will be easier for Kingpin to have the public see things his way.

Daredevil: Born Again Set Reveals Prove The Punisher Hasn’t Changed

Jon Bernthal in a dark hallway in The Punisher

While Echo is proof enough that Marvel Studios is okay with realistic violence, set photos and videos have revealed that Frank Castle hasn’t changed since his time in the Netflix Defenders Saga. Early images show Frank bloody and battered, presumably following run-ins with NYC’s criminal underbelly. Moreover, he’s still sporting the classic Punisher outfit and logo despite its recent controversies.

However, the Punisher’s brutality is on full show in a Daredevil: Born Again set video that shows Frank shooting a new Marvel hero. Without any context or details, it’s unclear why the Punisher would kill a hero, but all will be revealed when Daredevil: Born Again releases sometime in 2025. However, it’s great to see that Frank will be as brutal and controversial in-universe as ever as he formally joins the MCU.

Netflix’s Defenders Saga, including Daredevil , Jessica Jones , Luke Cage , Iron Fist , The Defenders , and The Punisher , were initially marketed as MCU canon. However, the relationship proved to be one-way, and as Marvel Studios started their own television productions on Disney+, Netflix’s shows seemed to slip out of canon. However, Marvel Studios’ head of streaming recently confirmed that the shows are full and complete MCU canon.

Why Jon Bernthal Should Return As The Punisher

Jon Bernthal in The Punisher Season 2 Finale firing guns and using the skull logo

Jon Bernthal is the perfect actor to play The Punisher, and it will be thrilling to see him reprise the role for the MCU. In addition to Bernthal playing the role so well in Netflix’s Daredevil that he earned his own spin-off series, Bernthal has made it clear that his passion for the character is genuine. That can only mean good things for his return to the role in Daredevil: Born Again. In an interview with Screen Rant, Bernthal explained that he cares about the character of Frank Castle deeply, signaling a dedication that goes beyond just playing a role.

This casting is also important because it continues Marvel’s efforts to tie the Netflix shows into the current MCU canon. That work is perhaps most notably being done with Daredevil: Born Again itself in that even the title suggests a continuation, but by bringing back Cox, D’Onofrio, and now Bernthal, Marvel is clearly working to connect those projects in a way that makes them feel a little less sidelined and clarifies the many questions about what is canon. This is only good news, as it means the returns of actors like Jon Bernthal as The Punisher.

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