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Jon Bernthal Describes the Only Way for His Punisher to Work in the MCU

Jorn Bernthal The Punisher Netflix how to join Disney+ Marvel MCU keep it dark and grounded

The Netflix arm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is so odd. Never officially de-canonized from the universe but pretty much entirely ignored, it hovers in a nebulous spot right now, especially since Marvel now has the rights to make shows with any of the characters and there are hints at a surprise return of a Netflix villain in Hawkeye. That leads to questions of actors returning to roles and their very dark characters returning as well. None is darker than Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, and the actor thinks it would be a challenge for his character to appear in the MCU.

Sitting down to discuss King Richard with THR, Bernthal was asked if his take on the character in The Punisher, which ran for two seasons on Netflix, could find a home in the MCU. While he would be happy to play the character again, he isn’t so sure that his take would work. It would require the “road and a darkness and a rage” that comes with playing a character whose family has been ripped away, and Bernthal expressed how portraying the character had taken him to dark places.

“That’s where that character needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be a level of darkness. I think if there’s any let up on that character, you do a disservice to the character, to every iteration of the character, to every comic book that’s come before, and to all of the unbelievable fans of the character. This character means so much to people in the military.”

Obviously, the Punisher is an extremely dark and violent character, and that worked for Netflix’s edgier take on the universe. However, Bernthal is correct that it feels really hard to do the Punisher justice in the PG-13 world of the MCU. The darkest Marvel has gotten is probably WandaVision, and that still ended in giant sky laser action. Of course, Bernthal, won’t rule out returning as long as it is done right.

“So like I said before, 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,” he concluded.

About the author

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is a News Writer and film aficionado at Escapist. He has been writing for Escapist for nearly five years and has nearly 20 years of experience reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and video games for both print and online outlets. He has a degree in Film from Vassar College and a degree in gaming from growing up in the '80s and '90s. He runs the website and has written for The Washington Post, Destructoid, MTV, and more. He will gladly talk your ear off about horror, Marvel, Stallone, James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.