What Marvel’s ‘Punisher’ Series Means for Netflix
Marvel has been expanding its cinematic empire every year since it began back in 2008. This in turn led to its equally-as-expansive collection of TV shows, beginning with ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, and proliferating into a self-contained Netflix franchise. Daredevil kicked things off with its first season in 2015. It was soon followed by Jessica Jones, and then most recently, a follow-up second season for Daredevil. Luke Cage and Iron Fist are next on the docket, but soon, another hero will be joining the lineup, with Marvel having green-lit a full-on series for Jon Bernthal as The Punisher
Bernthal first appeared as the infamous anti-hero in Season 2 of Daredevil. His story was easily the highlight of an otherwise scattered season, acting as a moral alternative to Matt Murdock’s less extreme crimefighting philosophy. It’s an arc that could have carried the entire season by itself. Soon, it’ll get the chance to carry a whole series, as Marvel continues to strengthen its hold on superhero TV. While Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter plug away on ABC, The Punisher gives them a chance to explore a character whose level of violence and ruthlessness could only be contained by Netflix.
Right now, details are scarce on where it’ll pick up in the story of Frank Castle (aka the Punisher). Daredevil dug into Castle’s back-story a good deal, detailing the loss of his family, his days in the United States Special Forces, and the quasi-psychotic break leading to a crime-family murder spree. Still though, it left plenty of open doors for a Punisher series on either end of the character’s timeline. We could get a show that goes back to the early days of Frank Castle, giving us a more detailed account of his descent. Or it could pick up where Daredevil‘s second season left off, putting us right in the middle of the current arc.
Wherever Punisher does end up going, it represents a tectonic shift in Marvel’s Netflix Universe. The juggling act gets even more complicated, as the streaming service now has to balance debut seasons for Luke Cage and Iron Fist, a second season of Jessica Jones, a potential third season for Daredevil, and then finally, a Defenders mini-series that combines all the various heroes into a single show. Right now, Netflix is on a two-show-per-year pace, which makes the most logical schedule the following:
- 2016: Daredevil (Season 2), Luke Cage (Season 1)
- 2017: Jessica Jones (Season 2), Iron Fist (Season 1)
- 2018: Daredevil (Season 3), The Punisher (Season 1)
- 2019: The Defenders
All this is without even factoring in the potential for a second season of Luke Cage or Iron Fist, and suffice it to say, Marvel is about to have a lot of tough decisions to make. Season 2 of Daredevil already showed cracks in the facade, acting as a cautionary tale for too many stories in one place. That’s not exactly an issue that gets solved by introducing more standalone series into the mix, even with a character as nuanced and intriguing as Frank Castle. That all being said, it’s not like Marvel has a whole lot to prove at this point. Jessica Jones was stellar in its debut season, Luke Cage promises to be more of the same, and they’ve been nothing if not deft in handling of their Netflix universe.
The fact of the matter is that Jon Bernthal definitely has the power to carry his own series. The Punisher was enough of a draw in his limited role on Daredevil to instill enough confidence for a full 13-episode run, and Marvel’s green-light speaks volumes to that. Next, it’ll be a question of how the studio manages to work another new series into an already-crowded schedule. At the very least, we can rest easy knowing that The Punisher is anything but a waste of space on that docket.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest