Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), if a recent and surprising Instagram leak is to be believed.
The apparent confirmation comes via Kasey O’Keefe, a relatively unknown actor from Los Angeles, who recently uploaded an image of him and Bernthal on the Meta-owned social media platform.
Normally, such photographs would not attract much attention. However, in the image caption, O’Keef apparently drops a big hint that Bernthal’s Punisher has joined Marvel’s cinematic juggernaut. In it, O’Keefe praises Bernthal, calling him a “tremendous actor”, before writing “Looking forward to working with you during Marvel Phase 5!”
Take a look at O’Keefe’s Instagram post below:
Back in August, we covered the news that Bernthal wasn’t ready to have his own Disney Plus MCU show, or join the MCU. That report came after Rosario Dawson, who played Claire Temple/Night Nurse on several Marvel Netflix TV series including Daredevil and The Punisher, incorrectly suggested that Bernthal’s Punisher was getting an MCU standalone TV series.
While Marvel hasn’t officially commented on the matter, several MCU insiders have stated that Bernthal will join Charlie Cox – who played Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Netflix’s Defenders-Verse – to make the leap to the MCU via Disney Plus. Cox’s Murdock/Daredevil has appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. He is also set to make a cameo in Echo’s standalone series before having his own show on Disney Plus – Daredevil: Born Again – in 2024.
As for the insiders talking about Bernthal’s return,Tom Smith (opens in new tab), We Can Get Some Freebie (opens in new tab)and MyTimeToShineHello (opens in new tab)who all have a decent track record when it comes to insider knowledge about Marvel productions, all have suggested that Bernthal has already signed on to reprise his iconic role in future MCU projects.
Naturally, O’Keefe’s post should be taken with a huge pinch of salt, so don’t take this as confirmation that Bernthal It is really coming to the MCU. We’ve reached out to Disney and Marvel for an official comment on O’Keefe’s post and rumors of Bernthal’s return, and we’ll update this article if we receive a response.
Analysis: Where might the Punisher appear in the MCU?
Given his obvious ties to Daredevil from Netflix’s various Marvel TV shows, Daredevil: Born Again seems like the most likely place for Bernthal to make his MCU debut.
The duo were two sides of the same coin on Netflix’s Defenders-Verse, juxtaposing incredibly well due to their individual brands of justice and opposing beliefs about how far vigilantes should go to seek revenge. Bringing them together on Daredevil’s first MCU project would be a perfect opportunity to further explore that dynamic, particularly with Born Again slated for an unprecedented 18 episodes (well, unprecedented as far as the length of Marvel Studios’ TV shows goes).
If not born again, where would the Punisher – aka Frank Castle – appear? Marvel’s Thunderbolts movie would be the ideal fit, with this supergroup being positioned as an anti-hero team. Castle is not a villain, nor is he a hero in the traditional sense, so he would be a perfect (not to mention crowd-pleasing) addition to the Thunderbolts roster.
And the Echo TV series too? Perhaps the Punisher will make the briefest of appearances on this show, especially if Daredevil appears in an equally small role. This would make for an intriguing side plot in Born Again, with Murdock potentially stunned to see Castle making the rounds across the US with the aim of doling out his own form of punishment to criminals across the country.
The rest of the Marvel Phase 5 lineup such as Loki season 2, Secret Invasion, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are too far along in their production to include The Punisher. Other Marvel movies and shows in development, including Captain America 4 and Agatha: Coven of Chaos, aren’t suited to its street-style disposition either.
Our guess? If The Punisher is about to join the MCU’s increasingly stacked roster, he’s sure to be in a Disney Plus series like Born Again. But we’ll have to wait and see if that’s really the case.
For more MCU-based content, check out everything worth knowing about the latest Phase 4 MCU projects, including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Alternatively, read where you can stream every Netflix Marvel TV show so far.