How Armor Wars Can Reintroduce Jon Bernthal's Punisher to the MCU

With Charlie Cox confirmed to return as Daredevil in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's only a matter of time before other heroes from Netflix's Marvel slate appear as well. Cox's Matt Murdock has long been rumored for a Spider-Man: No Way Home appearance, and all signs point to Vincent D'Onofrio reprising his Kingpin role in Hawkeye. Fans have expressed their excitement at the thought of Jon Bernthal bringing Frank Castle/Punisher back into their lives, but it remains to be seen where and when Marvel Studios would make such a decision. In our opinion, Marvel should go the unexpected route of debuting Bernthal's Punisher in the Iron Man spinoff project Armor Wars for Disney+.

Jon Bernthal made his Frank Castle debut in the second season of Netflix's Daredevil, and then starred in his own The Punisher solo series. Known for cleaning up the New York City streets with his huge arsenal of firearms, many will look to other street-level projects for the perfect opportunity to include Punisher. While Marvel Studios will probably turn to the comics for inspiration, there are also examples of taking projects in surprising directions. Nothing would be more surprising than seeing Don Cheadle's James Rhodes chase down The Punisher in Armor Wars, especially when the vigilante is revealed to be wearing one of Rhodey's discarded War Machine armors.


2017's The Punisher #218 by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Guiu Vilanova introduced the concept of the Punisher/War Machine armor. Recruited on a secret mission by Nick Fury Jr., Punisher stole the armor and quickly updated its physical looks with his signature white skull logo. Punisher with guns he has to physically hold is bad enough, but the thought of Frank Castle unleashed with some of the latest weapon technology is the thing of nightmares. Villains like Baron Zemo and even superpowered foes had their hands full trying to stay alive. If it wasn't for the Avengers stepping in and convincing Punisher to give up the War Machine armor, he would still be terrorizing the Marvel Universe with it.

This is what makes Armor Wars the perfect place for Punisher/War Machine. In a Disney+ Investor Day video from December 2020, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige posed the question of "what happens if Tony Stark's tech falls into the wrong hands?" This is similar to the Armor Wars storyline from the comics, when terroristic threats began hijacking Iron Man's creations. Frank Castle could even be considered one of those "wrong hands" that Feige referred to, leading to some memorable Cheadle/Bernthal interactions on the small screen.

Just about every Marvel Studios Disney+ series has included a surprising guest star: WandaVision had Evan Peters, with fans led to believe he was reprising his Quicksilver character from the Fox X-Men Universe; The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brought in the Black Panther Dora Milaje character Ayo; Loki had the shocking introduction of Jonathan Majors as the Kang variant He Who Remains; and Hawkeye will likely reveal Kingpin. 

Marvel Studios should do the right thing and give the people what they want: Jon Bernthal as Punisher. Except, he should do it as a weaponized one-man-War Machine in Armor Wars.