While Disney+ has had no problem putting out MCU shows this year, there’s still a vocal legion of fans who yearn for the stars of the once mighty Netflix series to get their due. Primarily, this hope has reserved for Charlie Cox’s Daredevil and Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, and while Cox has rather gracefully talked about MCU Daredevil while also reminding folks that he’s just an app away, Bernthal’s made a fairly more decisive statement.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bernthal talked about how he still carries a passionate torch for the role that helped catapult him to his current stardom. “He’s really in my heart, man. He’s really in my bones,” he said, describing himself as “enormously protective” of Frank. Though he hasn’t played the character since 2019, he’s still found himself grateful for getting to explore Frank’s darkness in the limited time he had, and he described Frank as having a “deep meaning and resonance” in him.
When asked about the possibility of returning to Frank’s bloody combat boots in the MCU proper—since that’s a thing anyone can do now—Bernthal was emphatic in that it couldn’t be sanded down to fit the usual MCU tone. “I think if there’s any let up on that character, you do a disservice to the character, to every iteration of the character…and to all of the unbelievable fans of the character,” he said. “It needs to be that level of darkness…it’s not about whether you do the character; it’s about whether you can do it right, and I’m only interested in doing it right.”
Even though he’s not saying it directly, it’s evident that Bernthal has some skepticism in how the MCU will tackle the Punisher when he eventually shows up. Thus far, the films and shows have largely been family friendly affairs, and even some of their heavier material like What If or Eternals sometimes brushes these instances off or loops them back around to standard happy endings that also set up sequels. Time will tell if Disney is willing to let the MCU truly stew in the darkness that made Daredevil, Punisher, and Jessica Jones compelling to watch for multiple seasons, or if their rendition of Frank Castle will just be a good guy with a gun.
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