For the last several years, many of the properties that other studios were borrowing, such as Blade, Daredevil, and Ghost Rider, have been in the process of returning to Marvel, due to contracts saying that the characters must be used in a movie within a certain time frame, or the character reversed. Marvel has full rights now to use these characters in any degree they choose, including the Daredevil TV show and a rumored 4th Blade movie.
Among these characters is one of my personal favorites, Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. Recognized mostly for his giant skull emblem across his chest, The Punisher is one of the first and most recognizable Anti-Heroes in Marvel. He fights crime by completely annihilating and, in certain cases, disemboweling organized crime.
So will the Punisher turn up? I believe so.
He is a character that can very easily fit into a number of different aspects of the MCU. The MCU is already developing other characters, such as Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. On this very street-level direction that the MCU is headed, the Punisher would fit extremely well.
Some people claim that the Punisher already has been in the MCU. According to Captain America 2 directors Antony and Joe Russo, there is a Penske Truck that appears in the right place multiple times, once to save Nick Fury and once to kill Sitwell. To quote the directors, “The man who drives that truck…Is very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He’s got a plan and a very specific skill set.” I think that the directors were being facetious, but many claim that this description means that the driver was the Punisher.
Personally, unless I see a skull or hear the name Castle, I don’t think he’s the Punisher. It is a real stretch to see a truck and declare the Punisher.
That being said, the Punisher is one of the most recognizable characters in Marvel, so I would be shocked if he’s not on his way. Personally, I think he can fit very well into the Defenders TV shows. He and Daredevil have had numerous run-ins, due to their very different approach to justice.
The trick is that once the Punisher is cast, he is the Punisher. The MCU is a rather large Universe. Just as Vincent D’Onofrio is the Kingpin for all of the MCU, so too the Punisher would be the only one. If used in the wrong way, cast as the wrong actor, or any other thing that could go wrong, the rest of the MCU is without him. This is not a reason to not bring in the Punisher to the MCU, but a reason to go extremely carefully about it.
In short, the Punisher is inevitable. The fans want him. He would fit very well into the Defenders, in my opinion. I am extremely eager to see where the MCU decides to fit him. Only time will tell.