What Role Will DAREDEVIL’s Punisher Play in the MCU?

The new Netflix run of Marvel series has been giving us a more mature look at the superhero world, with Daredevil and Jessica Jones giving us much more violence than we’ve gotten from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while Jessica Jones also ramped up the sexual innuendo. And while everyone is still getting over their jealousy of Luke Cage actor Mike Colter for getting to share a bed with Krysten Ritter (sweet Christmas, she is gorgeous), we’re still looking ahead to the future.

More than anything, fans are wondering just what role the Punisher will play in the second season of Daredevil, and whether or not we can expect to see more of him in the MCU. We’ve already gotten a few images of actor Jon Bernthal portraying Frank Castle, one of the few “superheroes” whose power is sheer grittiness and moral ambiguity. While Marvel is taking a much more adult approach to its Netflix shows, it’s hard to imagine Castle running around and blasting people in the face with oversized weaponry. In other words, it seems as if the violence wouldn’t get too graphic—although it’ll definitely be there.

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we now have a firmer idea regarding how Matt Murdock will be handling the skull-chested anti-hero, who he perceives to be a threat. And while we waited three episodes to see Kingpin in the first season, we’ll be seeing him almost immediately when the next season releases sometime in 2016. According to showrunner Doug Petrie:

“The advantage of any sequel is you can dive right in. We hit the ground running and then we ran as fast as we fucking could.”

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Much like Daredevil, the Punisher is sort of a small-time character in the MCU. While the big superheroes are out there stopping alien invasions and thwarting government conspiracies, the Punisher just goes around shooting everyday low-life scumbags. Most refer to him as an anti-hero rather than a straight superhero, since he has a tendency to murder the absolute bejeezus out of every criminal he encounters. This is probably going to be at the heart of the conflict between Murdock and Castle.

There may also be some ideological differences that come into play. Petrie’s fellow showrunner, Marco Ramirez, had the following to say on the matter:

“He [Castle] has a different moral code. Matt is a devout Catholic—and you rarely see a character who’s a devotee anything on TV. Frank has Hammurabi’s Code. It’s like letting a great white shark into the water.”

The show will also be dipping into current issues a bit in order to give the show a bit more weight. According to Petrie:

“Viewers watching the show will be rooting for this guy with a gun but we’re also going to force people—the way we force Matt—to second-guess themselves. Taking lethal justice into your own hands in America in 2015 is tricky shit. We have not shied away from the rich complicated reality of Now. If you’ve got a gun and you’re not the police, you’re going to incite strong feelings. We’re stirring the pot and we’re aware of the headlines where we live and we’re trying to get people to think.”

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Petrie and Ramirez apparently had some discussions regarding Travis Bickle, the isolated and unhinged veteran portrayed by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Bernthal went through a lot of effort to encapsulate the qualities of a character who has no real friends and who seems bent on murdering those he considers to be symptoms of society’s illness. As a result, he’s a bit out of touch. And the way Bernthal sees it, this is what makes him the perfect character to premiere in an era during which wars seem to be breaking out rampantly all over the globe.

“This character has resonated with law enforcement and military. He’s brought the war home with him in the worst possible way. And the best thing about him is that if he offends you, he just doesn’t care.”

So the Punisher will be challenging our moral views in the same year that Captain America: Civil War will be making true superheroes question their allegiance to the government. This appears to be a morally nebulous year for the MCU, and it’s possible that at least some of the dialogue between Murdock and Castle will be influenced by their perceptions of the battle between the Avengers.

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Speaking of the Avengers, some fans have speculated that the characters from Marvel’s television shows might make an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War. While this may be possible, it’s probably safe to say that none of these characters will appear before then, nor will they likely play a significant role. Each of the series on Netflix seems to focus on heroes who take to the streets while the Avengers are manning the larger threats. In a world full of superheroes, someone like the Punisher isn’t technically much more useful than someone like Maria Hill. He doesn’t even have super-bureaucrat powers.

That said, there’s always a chance that Frank Castle might make his way into another heroic team. He would make a neat addition to the Defenders, but there’s also a slim chance that a few of the characters may form the Heroes for Hire before (or even during) the first season of The Defenders. Of course, this is some pretty wild speculation. The likelihood is that we might not see too much of the Punisher outside of Daredevil, as it’s hard to imagine Murdock forgiving his murderous ways unless Marvel softens the character quite a bit by the end of the season. And that just wouldn’t go over too well with fans.

No matter what happens, it’ll be exciting to see Frank Castle in action when Daredevil returns to Netflix for a second season at an as-of-yet unannounced date in 2016. As for his future after that, fans will just have to wait and see.