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Here’s Why ‘The Defenders’ Didn’t Use Kingpin or The Punisher

Defenders Kingpin Punisher Absence Explained
Marvel / Netflix

The grand experiment of Marvel’s Netflix Defenders more or less paid off, but we’ll always wonder why some fan-favorites didn’t make the cut. Enter producer Marco Ramirez, who explains why Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin wasn’t a central threat, and why Punisher was too busy.

You’re warned of full spoilers for The Defenders from here on out, but even as Elektra usurped Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra as our Hand-y big bad, there’s good reason showrunners wanted a new threat for the four-way teamup. Ramirez could have gone the Avengers route with a big bad already intimately acquainted with the team, but now tells The Hollywood Reporter the four heroes needed to be on even keel:

We were already bringing in a lot of folks from Daredevil’s world, for example bringing in Wilson Fisk … we would need something that was new to all four of them, so that everyone was on the same page. We needed a villain who was a common denominator, if that makes sense, as opposed to everyone having a villain [from their show] who they’re facing off with here.

That doesn’t quite explain why Daredevil and Iron Fist characters Elektra, Madame Gao, Bakuto and The Hand itself wouldn’t fall under the same heading, but it’s worth noting that The Defenders’ final shot seemingly set up an iconic Daredevil arc that features Fisk as big bad. Ramirez wouldn’t confirm that Frank Miller’s Born Again would guide Daredevil Season 3, but only that they wanted to reference one of its panels.

So, what of The Punisher? We’ve heard Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb explain why Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle wouldn’t necessarily gel with any iteration of the team, but Ramirez explains the omission mostly came down to timing:

It all came down to availability and stuff like that. Even getting into the Frank Castle of it all, because people kept asking, ‘What’s the Punisher going to get into in The Defenders?’ And I would have to honestly answer them, ‘Nothing. He’s not in it!’ And they would be like, ‘Sure he’s not.’ And I would be like, ‘No, no, he’s really not. He’s busy with his own show!’

That didn’t stop Punisher and Daredevil regular Deborah Ann Woll from making an appearance, but scheduling was surely tougher on Bernthal. In either case, would The Defenders have been better with Kingpin or The Punisher?

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