"Jon Bernthal is returning to his most punishing role. The actor will reprise Frank Castle, aka antihero the Punisher, in Marvel Studios’ Daredevil: Born Again for Disney+, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
"Bernthal joins Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio in the series, which begins shooting in New York this month. In a departure from 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."
So many questions still about how much Jon Bernthal will be involved in this highly anticipated soft reboot/revival of Daredevil. Whatever the case may be, having an actor of Bernthal's caliber in any kind of high-profile project is a fucking win. The guy is a capital-A Artist and you can't throw that term around lightly.
Not only is Bernthal a magnificent acting talent, but the run of critical acclaim he went on for the better part of the past decade is nothing to sneeze at:
Sheeeeeesh man. The third play I ever remember going out of my way to buy was Small Engine Repair. Had no clue at the time who Jon Bernthal was, but he originated one of the roles in that play. As you can see, he went on to executive produce and star in a Certified Fresh movie version of it.
Not long ago I wrote about how Jeremy Strong's hardcore acting process was cramping the ever-awesome flow of his Succession co-star Brian Cox.
…And touched briefly on the history of American acting, how the Actors Studio changed the game because of U.S.-based folks bringing over and adapting the teachings of Konstantin Stanislavski's system from the Moscow Art Theatre.
I promise I'm bringing all this back around. Bernthal ramped up his acting training in earnest by studying at the Moscow Art Theatre. Straight to the source. Gotta respect the hell out of that. And he's not one of those actors who'll necessarily 100% stay in character the entire time he's shooting something. However, Bernthal will commit to the point where the vibe and energy of the character he's working on sticks with him even when he's off-set during a project. Similar to what Strong does for Succession, perhaps to a slightly lesser degree.
Point being, Bernthal's bold, committed and dynamic performance as Frank Castle/The Punisher in Season 2 of the original Daredevil Netflix series was nothing short of a revelation. This courtroom scene is one of the better-executed and acted reversals I've ever, ahem, witnessed:
Daredevil's success led to multiple Netflix spin-off shows and crossovers. Bernthal got to play The Punisher for a couple seasons on his own before that whole sort of mini/TV-MCU got pulled and Disney+ burst onto the scene.
I'm pretty positive and lenient when it comes to grading out shows or movies I watch. That said, I doubt I'm the only one who feels Marvel has gotten a little stale lately. Or maybe there's too much content at once and I find myself waiting for a new superhero's origin story to run its course with familiar beats prior to an inevitable larger team-up.
This is uncharted territory for Marvel in the Disney+ era. They're taking a beloved show, injecting their own flavor into it and, in all likelihood, watering it down at least a tad from the brutal, gritty, street-level vigilantism that made the OG Daredevil show such a smash hit.
That brings me to the final, main point I want to make about Bernthal. He has a pretty high standard for what he will and will not do. A cheap comeback or cameo as Frank Castle wouldn't suit him. Nor would a toned-down version of his character. Here's a key passage from the THR report from Bernthal back in 2021 discussing a potential Punisher return:
"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. 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."
Given that Daredevil: Born Again is 18 episodes and Bernthal's casting has broken just as production gets underway, my sense is he has a pretty significant role. Significant enough to where he'd be willing to pick up with the antihero again. Money talks. Everyone has a price. Disney/Marvel has monopoly money. And so on. But Bernthal won't just do this for the sake of doing it.
I'm a little crestfallen that, per THR, it appears Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll won't be reprising their key supporting roles as Foggy Nelson and Karen Page respectively. Still holding out hope they'll return somehow. Nevertheless, I have very real faith that Bernthal's stamp of approval means this series will still be brilliant on its own merits.
Eighteen episodes of Charlie Cox as Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio playing the main villain Kingpin were reason enough to get excited. Cox's MCU debut in She-Hulk doesn't concern me too much, because his more lighthearted drawing fit that series. Not like it was a standalone Daredevil outing.
Bernthal really is an X-factor who could push this new show to another level, though. If the Born Again creative team somehow matches or eclipses what Season 3 of Daredevil did, I'll be stunned. That's pound-for-pound one of the best seasons of TV ever, with Cox and D'Onofrio as the primary catalysts. Can't wait to see what they're cooking up for next year.