The Punisher could be returning to Disney Plus — with Jon Bernthal as the lead

jon bernthal as the punisher standing in the street
(Image credit: Netflix)

It sounds like another Marvel character will be making the jump from Netflix to the MCU-proper. According to Rosario Dawson, a staple figure in Netflix's Marvel shows, we haven’t seen the last of The Punisher. What’s more, it sounds like Jon Bernthal will be back to play him.

Dawson revealed this at the Chicago C2E2 convention over the weekend, noting she has heard that The Punisher is returning, something she’s excited about because it was the only Marvel Netflix show she wasn’t actually in — and she’s a big fan of Jon Bernthal. A revival would give her the chance to get all five shows on her resume, and work with Bernthal.

It’s been a while since Dawson graced the streets of the Marvel Universe. But back in the days when the five Defenders-verse shows were on Netflix, Dawson played Claire Temple — a nurse and invaluable ally to various street-level heroes. And good thing too, because Temple had a habit of treating some life-threatening injuries and saving the titular heroes’ lives. 

You can end up with a lot of damage out on the streets, even if you’re nigh-invulnerable like Luke Cage. It helps to have someone with medical training on your side.

The fate of many Defenders-verse heroes is still in limbo right now. Both Daredevil and the Kingpin have made their return to the MCU-proper, with the former getting his own Disney Plus series in 2024. But there has been some speculation on the canonicity of the previous show, and whether other characters might make their return.

Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Claire Temple and, of course, The Punisher himself. Frank Castle always seemed pretty unlikely, considering his brand of justice is antithetical to what Disney generally considers appropriate content. It’s hard to punish people that way if you’re restricted to PG-13-level activity.

The other Defenders-verse heroes, no matter how violent they were on Netflix, don’t have that same problem. It would be like relegating Deadpool to PG-13, something ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ tried and failed to do. Thankfully Disney has already announced Deadpool 3 will aim for an R-rating, and can hopefully extend that freedom to The Punisher. 

The fact that the first two seasons of The Punisher are available on Disney Plus further suggests that this could actually happen without any threat of corporate censorship.

Which is a good thing, since Bernthal’s Punisher was incredibly well-received. The solo show had its flaws, but it proved to be the best live-action version of the character to date — and there have been a lot of them. Here’s hoping what Dawson has said plays out, and Frank Castle gets a fresh start on Disney Plus.

Whether or not Dawson would play a role is unclear. But either way she will be getting her chance to shine on Disney Plus, with Star WarsAhsoka show hitting the service next year.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.