Jon Bernthal is returning to his most punishing role. The actor will reprise Frank Castle, aka anti-hero The Punisher, in Marvel Studios’ Daredevil: Born Again, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Bernthal joins Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio in the series, which begins shooting in New York this month. As opposed to other Marvel series, which come in at six or nine episodes per season, Born Again is planned as a whopping 18-episode epic. Writers and executive producers Matt Corman and Chris Ord are behind the show which is expected to bow in the spring of 2024.
Born Again takes its title from a landmark Daredevil storyline published in 1986, written by Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzuchelli. The show is deviating from that plot, although by how much is unclear. The Punisher, for example, made no appearance in the comic story. Daredevil versus Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, remains the focal point.
Bernthal first played the grieving father-turned-vigilante on Netflix’s version of Daredevil, debuting the character during 2016’s second season. He went on to headline his own series for Netflix, playing the titular character for two seasons of The Punisher, which spanned 2017-19.
Charlie Cox has exclusively told TechRadar that Daredevil: Born Again won’t be fully R-rated, so it won’t be as violent as Netflix’s Daredevil series anyway. Still, the best part of Bernthal’s Punisher was his raw, uncompromising, and vicious crusade against the criminal underworld. Removing that R-rated aspect of the character dilutes him and, in the eyes of some fans, may make The Punisher too Disneyfied to be seen as the same individual we’ve seen before.
Then there’s the other elephant in the room: the absence of Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson and Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page.
Daredevil Season 3 ended with Foggy, Page and Murdock reuniting to form a new law firm called Murdock, Nelson and Page. However, THR suggests that Woll and Henson have not been asked to return as their characters for Born Again, noting that it’s unclear if they’ve been recast or aren’t part of the series at all.
If the MCU’s Daredevil, Fisk and The Punisher are the same character iterations from Netflix’s Daredevil, wouldn’t it make sense to bring back Matt Murdock’s business partners – not to mention fiercely loyal friends? Foggy and Page are as integral to Daredevil’s comic book and live-action journeys as anyone else, if not more so.
Sidelining these characters-especially the versions played with such emotional gravitas by Woll and Henson-for Born Again suggests that Daredevil’s Netflix show may not be fully canon in the MCU after all. It also raises the question of whether Born Again will address their absence. If it doesn’t, audiences might see it as Marvel simply picking and choosing which elements to carry over from Netflix’s TV adaptation.
The studio has a history of picking and choosing what content and characters to carry over from its non-MCU productions. On the comics side, the publisher has also been downplaying the scarier aspects of the legacy character, changing his skull logo to something that looks more like an alien, and ridding him of his firearms altogether. How this will affect the TV series depiction of the character remains to be seen.
Born Again follows Netflix’s Daredevil series that ran for three seasons from 2013-18. That was known as the Netflix era of Marvel television and was back when the series side was not integrated with Marvel’s movie side. Marvel TV, then run by Jeph Loeb, produced a number of series for Netflix, including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist on top of Daredevil and Punisher. Netflix canceled its Marvel shows ahead of the late 2019 launch of the competing streaming service, Disney+.