This spring, former ‘Walking Dead’ star Jon Bernthal made his debut as the Punisher in the second season of ‘Daredevil’. In the face of an overwhelmingly positive response that Bernthal’s take on the character received from fans and critics alike, Marvel and Netflix were quick to announce that the Punisher would be granted a spinoff series on the streaming service. There has been no official word on when that series might premiere, but the common assumption is that it will likely bow sometime in 2018, as Marvel’s pattern of producing two Netflix shows per year would seem to leave 2017 booked solid between ‘Iron Fist’ and ‘The Defenders’.
However, rumors are beginning to circulate that we may not have to wait that long after all to revisit Frank Castle. Specifically, this speculation is being fueled by two recent events that suggest Castle may be making an appearance at some point during the fourth season of ‘Agents of SHIELD’. First, it was announced on the New York Comic Con Twitter account that Bernthal’s production schedule would require him to limit his appearance at the con to Saturday and Sunday. While the tweet specifically mentioned his “Netflix production schedule”, there is evidence pointing more directly toward an ‘Agents of SHIELD’ appearance. Namely, a recent screening of the season premiere of the ABC series saw Jeph Loeb (who serves as Marvel’s Head of Television – which includes both traditional television and streaming properties) introduce a pair of surprise guests. The first of those guests was Felipe Smith, who created the version of Ghost Rider making a much-ballyhooed debut on the show. The second was Gerry Conway, who in 1974 co-created the Punisher with artist John Romita, Sr. In addition, Loeb is reported to have remarked that “You will understand why I brought all of these people here later in the season, and why it makes sense.”
Please keep in mind, however, that all of this evidence is circumstantial and nothing is yet official. While Bernthal may well appear on the show, this could also be hinting at an unannounced appearance on an upcoming Netflix series (which could in turn tie in with ‘Agents of SHIELD’). For those itching to see more of Bernthal’s Punisher, Loeb’s alleged comments at the screening will no doubt prove especially hard to ignore.
Loeb and other Marvel producers are fond of pointing out that “it’s all connected”. But while ‘Agents of SHIELD’ has referenced things like the Sokovia Accords or (of course) Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD, and both ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ have alluded to the Battle of New York, there has been relatively little in the way of direct crossover between the various arms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What crossover there has been has typically taken the form of the sort of references described above or appearances by relatively minor characters like Lady Sif or Maria Hill. If the rumors of Bernthal’s Punisher appearing on the show are true, that would arguably make him the most significant character to cross between Marvel properties, with the possible exception of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.
Stay tuned to ScienceFiction.com for more news on Marvel’s television projects as it develops!