It's becoming more and more obvious as the reviews for Netflix's Daredevil Season 2 start flooding in that fans are really happy about Jon Bernthal's portrayal of the Punisher. We're not going to give out storyline spoilers here, but I will say this: Jon Bernthal really brought Frank Castle to life. I say that with the utmost respect to Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson, the only actors who have worn the skull on the chest. This new version of Marvel's deadliest vigilante clearly balances the violence that makes up the character of the Punisher and the human price being paid by Frank Castle.
So, now that we have a successful Punisher portrayal, what's next for Jon Bernthal in this role? Marvel/Netflix execs have stated before that there weren't plans for a Punisher/Netflix project on the coals, but I'm sure this topic will be discussed further as the fans continue to weigh in. The door is open for a standalone Punisher series, possibly even a prequel. There are so many questions about the Punisher's past — the tragedy of his family, his time in the Marines, and what brought Frank to New York in the first place — to answer. Jon Bernthal really nailed it and deserves to tell a tale of his own in this universe.
One thing that really makes the Punisher stand out from other gun toting vigilantes is what he represents. Frank Castle is not just some guy out to dispense his version of justice, the Punisher is the living idol of the voiceless victims, he is the aftermath of violence after the death of the innocent. His family was murdered brutally, his life destroyed, and his soul ripped right from him. The Punisher is the sum of gun violence, and the life of this character has a ton of material to pull from and modernize for the big screen.
What about a movie?
With Jon Bernthal taking over the mantle of the skull, you have the perfect equation for a successful movie franchise for the Punisher. You have stories for the big screen that can play well. For example, Punisher: Eye For An Eye, originally written by Carl Potts, would be a great place to start. From there they could go to the very first volume of the great Punisher: War Journal saga where we get to really dive into the world of a broken man reborn into a merciless killing machine.
In my heart of hearts, the one story I wish we could all see is The African Saga: Punisher And Wolverine. Yeah, it's a long shot but these two characters on screen at the same time, facing off in the African heat, could really be something to see. If something like this were to ever happen (I doubt it) there would have to be a new Wolverine cast, since our good friend Hugh is done. We can only wish, friends.
What's likely to happen?
We're probably going to see more Punisher in Season 3 of Daredevil, or maybe even Season 1 of Luke Cage, for now. With three failed attempts at big screen success, the money men of Marvel may be reluctant to pull the trigger on another movie franchise, but if we keep seeing more of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle portrayed like this, then producers may be swayed toward putting some serious money behind this iconic character once again. Yet, there is a great opportunity to see a Punisher movie released exclusively on Netflix — since they have a strong hand in the rights — or a six episode mini-series if they want to test the market before bankrolling anything pricey. Fans of Frank Castle are just going to have to wait and see.