Apparently the Punisher just does not quite fit in with the cool kids over on ‘The Defenders,’ and frankly (no pun intended), I’m fine with that. News has recently surfaced that there was a mandate from Marvel that no Defender could be featured or make a cameo in ‘The Punisher’ series, so aside from Karen Page, there will not be any other crossover with the rest of the Netflix MCU heroes. And the reasoning for that? Well, according to showrunner Steven Lightfoot while speaking to Syfy.com:
“When I came in to take the show on, it was always very clear to me that they wanted it to sort of tell its own story and run on its own track and not really intersect with what was happening in The Defenders. That was part of the brief.
I guess I could speculate on the reasons for that, but I think from what I understand the original concept for the four characters that became The Defenders was always the plan and the Punisher spun out of that. But very much certainly when I came in the brief was always that it was to be its own show and its own thing separate from that.”
The story is also being told that Frank Castle’s story is more grounded and gritty than any other in the Netflix corner of the MCU. This just would not mesh all that well with the Defenders, who just finished a story where they were fighting supernatural ninjas capable of coming back from the dead whose primary goal in New York was to tunnel under the city and dig up some dragon bones so they could create more of the elixir that helped sustain their eternal life. Not exactly the kind of street-level realism you want to juxtapose Frank’s war on crime with, especially when a large part of what makes him such an anti-hero is his callous disregard for the lives of the criminals he punishes, many of whom die at his hands. He would not really seem all that dark if we knew half those criminals could just be brought back to life later.
Aside from that, it does make sense that the Punisher was never a part of the original plan, so shoehorning him into ‘The Defenders,’ or trying to squeeze one of those characters into his show does not make that much sense. At this particular point in the timeline, Matt Murdock and Karen are the only associates on the team aware of the Punisher, and with Daredevil being “dead” after ‘The Defenders,’ no one else on the team would even be aware of Frank’s existence, so why would they pop on in his series?
What are your thoughts here? Is Marvel just playing it safe to insulate their ‘Defenders’ characters from Frank Castle, in case the public finds his particular brand of gun-toting violence a bit too offensive right now? Or should he be on his own regardless, because that is how his character works best? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!