Marvel's The Punisher was a late addition to Netflix's line-up of Marvel TV shows, launched as a spinoff after the second season of Marvel's Daredevil. Now, as the show is about to debut its own second season, it stands as one of the only series left of a once-flourishing television multiverse that has gotten caught in a war between Hollywood's two most powerful companies.
Last fall, the streaming network axed its Marvel series one by one, canceling Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil in succession. The only survivors are Punisher and Jessica Jones, the latter of which has no season three premiere date announced, a bit of an ominous sign. According to executive producer Steve Lightfoot, those cancellations — which most spectators have chalked up to Disney's own streaming ambitions — happened after The Punisher's second season was in the can, so they had no real bearing on the story or action. And yet, in their new context, the final few moments of the season finale can function either as a series wrap or new momentum.
"We left season two in a place where my hope was everyone would just be like, fantastic, I can't wait for Season 3," Lightfoot tells SYFY WIRE. "And if we get to make Season 3, I'll be absolutely delighted. I would love to make 10 seasons."
Whether that happens remains to be seen — and is out of their control. According to Marvel TV's Jeph Loeb, it's all on Netflix.
"That's not our decision to make," Loeb says. "We have a fantastic cast. We have a terrific writing team and extraordinary crew. Love working in New York… It's ultimately going to be Netflix's call, as it is with every show. We are beholden to the network and it's the network who decides whether or not we're going to do it."
Loeb notes that he has told everyone he can that he has little control over the future of the series, but the public's understanding of the feature film business — and its endless sequels — sometimes makes for some confusing.
"I'm not sure everybody quite understands that and thinks of it more of the way that a movie sometimes doesn't have a sequel because it didn't do well at the box office," he explains. "But we're much more living in a world where if the theater owners could say we don't want another movie, that would be the more close equivalent. The network is the one who decides."
Frank Castle can survive just about anything — we'll see if that includes Netflix's decision makers.