So far, Marvel's relationship with Netflix has given us three exceptional seasons - two of Daredevil and one of Jessica Jones. On September 30, we'll be seeing Jessica Jones's love interest on his own terms in Luke Cage. We already know that next year, we'll be treated to two phenomenal shows - Iron Fist, starring Finn Jones as the titular character, and The Defenders, an 8-episode series that unites the superheroes against a deadly threat. Daredevil Season 2 introduced us to Jon Bernthal's Punisher, and the character was successful enough for Marvel and Netflix to sign off on a spinoff series. Now, it's looking likely that this series will air next year!
What's the Evidence?
If you search for The Punisher on the Netflix app, you get taken to this landing page (believed to have been loaded today- the page is still live at the time of publishing). There's no date on the landing page, but Netflix tend to publish these about a year before a series airs.
Supporting this, Screen Geek has released a strong rumor that The Punisher will begin filming later this year under the code-name "BULLET TIME" (according to Screen Geek, The Defenders will be filmed under the code-name "FEARLESS", which seems highly likely). Jon Bernthal's schedule for New York Comic Con seems to confirm this:
All the evidence comes together to indicate that the series is soon to begin filming, and will air next year.
Why Is This Significant?
In July 2015, Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos explained to Variety how Netflix planned to handle Marvel content:
“I think ideally there will be a rhythm of about every six months you’ll get a new season or a new series from the Defenders group. And then they’ll crossover into a combined [Defenders] season once we’ve launched the first season of each of the four characters.”
According to Sarandos's comment, you'd be expecting to get no more than two Marvel Netflix shows every year. Although Daredevil Season 3 was confirmed at SDCC 2016, Netflix quickly confirmed that the show wouldn't air until 2018 - nor would Jessica Jones Season 2. That fits with the 'two-a-year' pattern.
But everything changes if The Punisher is airing in 2017, because we already have Iron Fist and The Defenders. That will make three new Marvel Netflix shows airing in 2017!
Why Is This Happening?
It's possible that Netflix has just changed strategy, and now plans to release three superhero series every year. Given the tremendous success of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, that wouldn't come as a surprise; the fact that The Defenders is only 8 episodes long (thus shorter than other Marvel Netflix series) might factor into this.
There are other possibilities, though. Screen Geek speculate that The Punisher is filming at the same time as The Defenders in order to have some sort of tie-in. That said, a close look at Sarandos's words raises another possibility; she refers to "a new season or a new series from the Defenders group". Although Jon Bernthal's Punisher was introduced in Daredevil Season 2, it's possible that The Punisher is counted as a standalone project, separate from the 'Defenders group'. In that case, the series would have a completely different production crew, making it possible to film The Punisher at the same time as The Defenders. Only time will tell.
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This possibility is very exciting. Marvel fans are eagerly hoping for more Marvel superheroes to come to Netflix - rumors abound, covering everyone from Blade to White Tiger - but the 'two-a-year' pattern posed a very real problem. If that 'two-a-year' pattern only holds for the Defenders, then other superheroes could come to Netflix sooner, rather than later.
All of this is speculation, of course. All we know for certain is that The Punisher is very likely to air in 2017, meaning next year we'll get not two but three doses of Marvel action on Netflix. Whether this is the start of a new approach, or just a one-off, I think we can say for certain that we're in for a treat!
Are you looking forward to The Punisher? Let me know in the comments!