Jon Bernthal on Why Marvel's The Punisher Was Never Part of the MCU

The Punisher star Jon Bernthal responds to questions asking why Marvel Studios never pulled the trigger on including Frank Castle in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying such decisions are "above my paygrade." Bernthal, who played the violent vigilante in Marvel Television and ABC Studios' Season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil and two seasons of Marvel's The Punisher on Netflix, has yet to reprise the role in the connected cinematic universe under the purview of Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige. Netflix canceled the series after 26 episodes in 2019, pink-slipping The Punisher along with DaredevilLuke CageIron Fist, and Jessica Jones

"I don't know, man. If they're talking about it, they're not including me in the conversation, you know what I mean?" Bernthal told Jake's Takes when asked why his Punisher never crossed over into the wider MCU on the big screen. "That's all above my paygrade. I wouldn't tell you even if I could (laughs)." 

Netflix's connected Marvel series acknowledged the movie universe as canon, referencing events from The Avengers and The Incredible Hulk, but Marvel Studios has yet to recognize those series as taking place within the MCU. Feige was not involved in the five series produced for Netflix by the Jeph Loeb headed Marvel Television, folded into Marvel Studios when Feige was promoted to Marvel Chief Creative Officer in 2019. 

Marvel Studios has since branched out into television, producing MCU-set series such as WandaVisionThe Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, featuring characters and storylines that will crossover or otherwise extend onto the big screen in upcoming movies like Spider-Man: No Way HomeDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Captain America 4

No characters from the Netflix series have yet to appear in any works produced by Marvel Studios. There are persistent rumors Charlie Cox, who played Matt Murdock on Daredevil and The Defenders, will be the first to reprise his role in the Spider-Man sequel swinging into theaters on December 17. 

Marvel regained the rights to The Punisher and Jessica Jones earlier in 2021, bringing all formerly Netflix-controlled characters under Disney's Marvel Studios banner. 

"For me, with Frank, it's really not whether we do it again or not, or whether I play him again or not, it's about doing it right," Bernthal previously told Entertainment Weekly about reprising the Punisher role for Marvel Studios. "I just care so much about getting him right, and that's kind of where it begins and ends with me. I just give want to give the folks whom he means so much to the Frank Castle that they deserve. That's sort of where I'm at with it. I love Frank. I always have, I always will."

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Bernthal is now starring in Small Engine Repair, out now in theaters. All episodes of The Punisher are streaming on Netflix.