Due to the rights issues with Netflix, the chances of the characters popping up in Marvel Studios projects was previously impossible. But now, the window has closed and so a return for each character in the MCU can happen.
Jones and Castle
Jessica Jones was the second of the Marvel shows to debut on Netflix, following Daredevil, in November of 2015.
The series starred Krysten Ritter as the titular character, a sardonic private eye with super-strength. It followed her on cases and dealing with her trauma at the hands of the mind-controlling Kilgrave (David Tennant).
The first season introduced Mike Colter as Luke Cage, who then gained his own Netflix show. The pair joined Daredevil and Iron Fist in the Defenders series.
Jon Bernthal first played Frank Castle in season 2 of Daredevil. The former Marine was driven to the breaking point by his family’s murder and became a brutal vigilante.
This earned Bernthal a Punisher spin-off which ran two seasons.
There were also reports of Netflix having concerns over the budget for each series and the challenges balancing the shows into the MCU.
The status of the characters has been in limbo as Netflix still retained the rights for two years after the cancellation announcement. With that deadline passed, this means Jones and the Punisher can now be used by Marvel Studios.
Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage had already been reacquired by Marvel Studios in 2020.
When asked earlier in 2021 about the chances of the Defenders characters appearing, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige stated: “Everything is on the board. That’s one of the fun things about the comics is that characters would appear and disappear and come and go. All of it is inspiration for the future. There are some great characters and actors from those shows.”
Of course, just because Marvel Studios has the rights back does not mean they will in fact use Jessica Jones or the Punisher. Even if they do, it might not be the same actors.
Both Ritter and Bernthal had made it clear they would love to each return to their roles in the future. There had been rumors of a possible Punisher film with Bernthal in the role but nothing has been confirmed. Recasting both the parts would not be out of character for the MCU.
There have been reports of Charlie Cox possibly reprising his role as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man 3 but those too are yet to be confirmed.
While it may seem unlikely that Disney+ adds the old Defenders shows to their roster, Jessica or the Punisher could appear in the Disney+ MCU shows.
A challenge would be how each Netflix series was much darker than the family-friendly MCU shows on Disney+. One possibility might be the Punisher appearing on the planned Moon Knight series. There’s also a chance Jessica shows up on the upcoming She-Hulk show.
Right now, what matters is that all of the Netflix Marvel characters are under the Marvel Studios banner. This means the chances they appear in a proper MCU series are much better than before.
Jessica Jones seasons 1-3 and The Punisher seasons 1 & 2 can be seen on Netflix.