Netflix's 'Punisher' Happened Outside 'Defenders' Timeline

Ever wonder why, throughout all thirteen episodes of Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, the Defenders didn’t show up when a domestic terrorist blew up New York? That’s because the show was “outside” their timeline, a new behind-the-scenes feature reveals.

On Tuesday, Netflix released a belated featurette on The Punisher that contains a multitude of spoilers, now that most of the world has binge-watched Frank Castle’s return as the Punisher. During the feature, co-showrunner Steven Lightfoot says: “My version of The Punisher is outside The Defenders timeline, so I think it’s unique in that it’s very much its own story.”

Contextually, Lightfoot isn’t saying The Punisher isn’t in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s just unburdened by it. It simply means Lightfoot and his team don’t have to write in pre-existing characters like Matt Murdock or Luke Cage, which can make production on a TV show really expensive and complicated to shoot really quickly.

Still, Lightfoot’s wording is subject to speculation: Does “outside The Defenders timeline” mean the show takes place before The Defenders, or after it? Lightfoot is trying to say it doesn’t matter, but New York goes under panic for a while in The Punisher, while another mass event rocks Manhattan during The Defenders. That neither of those events conflict can be confusing to audiences who are convinced they’re watching a shared universe of films and TV shows.

Marvel’s films and TV shows are more popular than ever, but perhaps that promise that “it’s all connected” is getting harder to fulfill as time goes on. The heroes who get big blockbuster movies are certainly all connected, while the TV shows — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, etc. — occupy their own corner. There’s scant crossover between the two realms, and whatever ties have been established are slowly being erased or flat out ignored.

Creatively, it’s a good thing that shows like The Punisher care only about telling its own story. But from a fan’s perspective, seeing Frank Castle lock and load against Thanos would be a sight to behold, and it’s just out of reach.

Marvel’s The Punisher is streaming now on Netflix.

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