Netflix's new Marvel series is basically the crossover lover's dream. The Defenders premieres Aug. 18 and is stuffed to the gills with characters from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, from Misty Knight to Foggy Nelson to Jeri Hogarth. One fan favorite Daredevil anti-hero is a likely suspect to make a surprise appearance too: Frank Castle, played by Jon Bernthal. How many episodes of The Defenders is the Punisher in, though?
UPDATE: There's a promo for The Punisher Season 1 after the credits of The Defenders season finale.
EARLIER: Well, there's actually no official news about Frank appearing in The Defenders... yet. Though neither Marvel, Netflix, nor Bernthal have confirmed if or when he may show up, there are definitely a lot of clues that suggest that fans will be catching a glimpse of the Punisher in this summer's highly-anticipated superhero team-up, ahead of his own solo spin-off series premiere.
First, there's the fact that Bernthal attended The Defenders panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Ostensibly, he was there to promote The Punisher — he introduced the first preview clip of the show to the lucky audience members — but his appearance might mean something more. Then, there's also the fact that he makes a cameo appearance at the end of the Stan Lee-narrated trailer for The Defenders. Now, according to Entertainment Weekly, the clip of Bernthal was actually from footage from The Punisher... but it still seems like a hint, right? There's also the very telling fact, that when EW asked him point blank about his appearance in The Defenders, Bernthal was unable to provide a direct answer.
So a Punisher appearance in The Defenders is looking very likely at this point. The evidence just keeps on stacking up. Keep your eyes peeled during the eight episodes of the new series for a glimpse of the character, no matter what hand-waving Marvel may be doing to convince you that he's sitting this one out.
That said, don't get your hopes up for the Punisher joining the team as an actual Defender anytime soon. After hedging about the potential of a second season of The Defenders, Marvel head of television Jeph Loeb joked to Collider that they'd be "like peanut butter and asparagus." He also explained, "One of the things that's unique about The Punisher — and Jon Bernthal's performance — is that that character can stand alone. Even in the comic books, Frank Castle's Punisher is a character that does well by himself. I think that when you start mixing it in, it feels a little off."
Still, whether or not Frank Castle will appear in (or eventually join) The Defenders, it's good to know that he's got his very own Netflix series in the pipeline. There's no official release date for it yet, but word is fans will get it before the year is out. Deborah Ann Woll is co-starring, and judging by the complex relationship Frank and Karen Page built in Daredevil Season 2, they're going to be a lot of fun to watch together.
Between a possible Defenders cameo and the impending arrival of his own series, Bernthal's Punisher is one character Marvel seems to know fans can't get enough of.