The Punisher is back.
Four years after the cancellation of Netflix’s The Punisher and the unceremonious end to a series devoted to one of Marvel’s most iconic anti-heroes, actor Jon Bernthal will reprise his role in the upcoming Disney+ series Daredevil: Born Again.
Bernthal will return as Frank Castle, a Marine veteran whose departure from military service coincides with the tragic death of his family — collateral damage in an attempt on his life due to a nefarious conspiracy, a double cross, and a heavy dose of corruption amongst his former brothers in arms.
The murder of his wife and children sets Frank on a single-minded path, not for justice, but for vengeance, which puts him on a crash course with Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, in the second season of the Netflix series of the same name. The character was eventually spun off and landed his own series, which ran two seasons before it was canceled in 2019. (You can read about season one and season two, here.)
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Among military and veteran viewers, the comic book character has enjoyed a generally positive reception and is almost single-handedly responsible for the proliferation of skull motifs on tactical gear in the last two decades.
“He’s like the single Marvel universe operator,” Mitch Gerads, the illustrator for the 2014 series of The Punisher, previously told Task & Purpose. “The military has a way of going about things and it’s a very tactical mindset, especially special operations. … We just approached it from this tactical mindset … and it’s in a way our homage to the actual warriors we met, and know, and love.”
As for Bernthal’s portrayal, he managed to add a layer of depth to a figure who could have easily been a two-dimensional triggerman at best, and a broken and dangerous veteran with a gun at worst — a character whose military service was merely an excuse for why he was so good at shooting people.
Instead, the Netflix arc from Daredevil to The Punisher gave viewers an on-screen version of Frank Castle whose time in uniform not only sharpened the skills he relies on as the Punisher but provided the foundation for beliefs — his codes of conduct and loyalty — which when violated set him down a bloody road.
As for Dinsey’s Daredevil: Born Again, Bernthal has been cast alongside Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, the titular lawyer by day and crime fighter by night, with Vincent D’Onofrio reclaiming his role as Kingpin. It’s unclear exactly what the focus or scope of Daredevil: Born Again will be, or if it will retain the grim tone the series had on Netflix now that it’s appearing on the more family-friendly Disney+ platform.
For what it’s worth, Bernthal previously stressed that if he were to return to the role, he’d only do it if the character remained true to the source material, which is, to put it lightly, dark.
“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,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2021. “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.”
Daredevil: Born Again is expected to premiere on Disney+ in Spring 2024.
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