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How Jon Bernthal’s Punisher could fit into ‘Daredevil: Born Again’

'Daredevil: Born Again' is the perfect series for Jon Bernthal to make his return as the Punisher. Here's how it should happen.

Jon Bernthal Punisher
Image via Disney Plus

Jon Bernthal is back as Frank Castle/the Punisher in Daredevil: Born Again and the new series needs to get his reintroduction right.

The actor made his first appearance in Daredevil season two on Netflix. Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) was trying to find those responsible for killing the Irish mob, which turned out to be the one-man army known as the Punisher. Matt was unknowingly interacting with Castle and eventually, his law firm, Nelson and Murdock, defended him in court. After his family was killed by the Irish mob, Frank was driven to extreme levels of violence and sought revenge against them. After the two faced off and kind of reconciled, Daredevil got to star in his own bloody story.

Image via Marvel Television

In Punisher season one, Frank hadn’t changed much. He was still fixated on destroying all those responsible for killing his family. He suffered major betrayals, discovered a conspiracy within the CIA, and battled demons that haunted him every step of the way. In season two, things don’t get much better as Frank found out it was the government and not the mob who planned the deaths of his family for his refusal to go along with a black ops mission he didn’t agree with, only adding fuel to the fire.

Punisher season two ended with Frank in an interesting place. He wasn’t exactly a changed man; Frank’s friend from the marines Billy Russo/Jigsaw (Ben Barnes) betrayed Frank’s trust when he allowed Rawlins (Paul Schulze) to kill Castle’s family, and then he tried to kill Castle himself. In the end, Frank cut up Russo’s face using a shattered mirror, but he didn’t kill him, so there’s some growth and maybe a chance at changing how he operates in the future.

When last Daredevil and Punisher met, they were working together. The Hand (an ancient ninja order devoted to the spread of darkness) had kidnapped everyone Daredevil had saved in the past, including Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), and it’s up to Daredevil and Elektra (Elodie Yung) to free them. They fight a horde of ninjas in a warehouse, and Elektra jumps in the way of Nobu’s (Peter Shinkoda) attack to protect Daredevil. She dies as a result. Daredevil is seemingly defeated, but the Punisher arrives and snipes the remaining ninjas before they can kill the crime-fighter. Daredevil gives a nod to the Punisher and the gun-toting vigilante exits. They’ve reached a place of respect.

punisher daredevil
via Marvel Television

Daredevil season three was a story that was very much about fear and reconciliation. The crimson hero is called “the man without fear,” and yet he’s been through many traumatic experiences. He had lost battles, loved ones, and with Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) out of prison as an FBI informant, there’s a lot to be worried about. Season three brought Matt’s friendship with Foggy and Karen back into the picture, and in the end, Daredevil was able to overcome his fears and bring Kingpin to justice by putting him back behind bars.

Daredevil’s appearance in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law showed him in a better headspace. He first met Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) in court when he defended Luke Jacobson (Griffin Matthews) in a product liability case. He grew closer to Jennifer and gave her some sage advice about this superhero business as they took down Frog-Man and his goons. With Kingpin confirmed to be out of prison in the Hawkeye series, he’ll still be on Daredevil’s radar as he prepares for his next big move.

This build-up of these two titans, Daredevil and Kingpin, will happen in the Echo series as both stars are set to return. Maya Lopez/Echo (Alaqua Cox) has a vendetta against Kingpin for orchestrating the murder of her father, and it’s safe to assume he’ll make it out of this series alive to appear in Daredevil: Born Again. Daredevil’s mission could be to stop Kingpin from amassing more power, and this plan might involve the return of Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), who’s even more ruthless than Kingpin, upping the stakes. Daredevil would want to bring down Kingpin without killing him, but Punisher might have other plans.

Punisher and Kingpin have history; they were both in prison together. Kingpin had Frank kill an inmate, then he turned on Frank and allowed inmates to beat Frank with the expectation that he would die. Frank survived and Kingpin admitted to what he did, which didn’t make Frank happy. The conversation got physical, but Kingpin still allowed Frank the chance to escape so that he could destroy the crime rings of New York, inadvertently gifting Kingpin fewer enemies. Wilson Fisk is a businessman first.

In spite of freeing him, Frank could still hold a grudge against Kingpin, and the drama would be made sweeter if there’s some connection that Fisk has to the CIA. Perhaps he’s secretly funding another abhorrent program like Operation Cerberus, Frank finds out, and wants to put an end to Kingpin for the crimes against vulnerable people. Daredevil would have the difficult task of stopping Punisher from killing his worst enemy. As much as he wants Kingpin to pay for his crimes, his moral code is defined now, whereas Punisher is more of a work in progress.

About the author

Ethan Alexander