When streaming platform Disney+ was first announced, Netflix’s scrappy The Defenders team – consisting of individual series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and spin-off The Punisher – came to an abrupt end, despite the franchises’ overall popularity. Jessica Jones and The Punisher were the last two of Netflix’s Jeph Loeb (Avengers Assemble, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) helmed Marvel series to get cancelled at the streaming service, in February 2019. With the series cancellations hitting the two-year mark on Thursday, Marvel Studios and its ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe have officially retained the rights to all of Netflix’s street-level heroes.
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While Disney+ has allowed for the MCU to expand into the world of television, it’s too soon to tell whether the characters of Jessica Jones and The Punisher will find a home on one of these many upcoming series. Krysten Ritter (Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23, Breaking Bad), the actress behind tortured private-eye and reluctant super hero Jessica Jones, has shared her willingness to revisit the character with fans on Twitter in the past. Comicbook quoted Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Baby Driver), the actor responsible for bringing The Punisher’s revenge-driven Frank Castle to life across multiple Netflix series, sharing similar sentiments about his Marvel character: “Frank’s always there, he’s always a part of me. And when we get the call to go, I’ll be ready.”
I would play JJ again in a HEARTBEAT – she’s the coolest character ever and I love her! Hey, you never know what the future holds 🤪 As for now I’m so proud of the long run & the deep character work I got to do. It’s been a dream and never say never! https://t.co/donjfIgjvp
— krysten ritter (@Krystenritter) June 24, 2019
ScreenRant reported, on the possibility of Ritter or Bernthal getting an opportunity to reprise their roles in the MCU: “while [it] appeared to be highly unlikely a few years ago, there could be some precedence for it now.” The precedent to which they’re referring is the news of Daredevil star Charlie Cox’s (The Defenders, Boardwalk Empire) appearance on the set of Spider-Man 3. While it has not yet been confirmed that Cox will be providing counsel to Peter Parker as Matt Murdock, also known as the street-level fighter Daredevil, it’s a major point of speculative excitement among fans.
Unlike Murdock, Jennifer Walters, a Marvel comics character coming to the small screen in Disney+’s She-Hulk, is bringing a confirmed legal powerhouse to the MCU. Sources, such as The Mary Sue, have already expressed hope that Jessica Jones will be able to make an appearance in the courtrooms run by Tatiana Maslany’s (Orphan Black) Walters. Marvel fans feel that Jones is a natural fit for the forthcoming legal comedy – despite her character’s darkness – due to her profession as a private investigator and connection to Walters in the comics.
Both Walters and Jones share a close friend in Patsy ‘Trish’ Walker, also known as the superhero Hellcat. Ginger Gonzaga’s (Kidding, Togetherness) recent casting in She-Hulk has already drawn speculation that she might be playing a version of Walker, who was originally played by Rachael Taylor (Transformers, Headland) in the Netflix shows. Jessica Jones’ relinquished rights will certainly keep MCU fans vigilant of upcoming announcements regarding She-Hulk.
Moon Knight – starring Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Before Sunrise) and May Calamawy (Ramy, The Long Road Home) – will bring another highly anticipated Disney+ addition to the MCU. While it’s unclear where The Punisher’s TV-MA Frank Castle could find a home in the MCU, some feel Moon Knight might strike the proper tonal fit. The darker series is set to explore mental health and has already served as a rumored pathway for Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Men In Black) to reprise his Daredevil villain Kingpin onscreen.
While these casting speculations may seem preemptive or far-fetched, Movieweb reminds readers that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has gone on the record saying that “everything is on the board.” Speaking specifically of the Netflix series, Feige said “all of it is inspiration for the future. There are some great characters and actors from those shows” (Movieweb).
WandaVision has already set an example of incorporating cast members from Marvel properties originally produced outside the bounds of the MCU, and the in-flux continuity the series has introduce into the MCU canon is expected to continue in Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness. Only time will tell what surprises Marvel Studios has in store for fans in the future, and whether the actors and/or characters from Jessica Jones or The Punisher will be involved.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat