Frank Castle: The Punisher. Darker than Daredevil and broodier than Batman, he's a scary and violent figure who's always straddled the line between hero and villain. Mr. Happiness himself is getting his own series, with Jon Bernthal reprising and expanding on his role from Daredevil Season 2. If you're looking to get in the mood for this new take, there's plenty of media out there for you to digest. These movies and shows are often gory, bleak, depressing and unsettling. But if you need a film festival to put you in the mood for what looks like a bloody crime saga, you can't really go wrong with this menu.
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We'll start with the obvious one. If you want to be truly ready for the upcoming Punisher series, you should probably bone up on the first two seasons of Daredevil. This Netflix original helps establish Marvel's version of New York City and the world that Bernthal's Punisher inhabits. Plus, Frank Castle was a key character in the show's second season, setting up his solo debut. For those completely unaware of what a Punisher is, or whom he'll be punishing, this is the logical place to begin.
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If you're a grizzled antihero fan and haven't seen Breaking Badyet, you've got quite the thrill ride to look forward to. Bryan Cranston's Walter White has become arguably as iconic a character as any comic book meanie. White goes from a benign schoolteacher to a terrifying drug kingpin over the course of five gut-wrenching seasons, with scientific knowledge and an unquenchable ego as his superpowers. There's not enough space here to explain why you should check this show out, but suffice to say, anyone in the bingeing mood will have more than enough material to stay hooked.
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Liam Neeson's big phone speech about his "particular set of skills" has overshadowed the movie it came from. It's also been parodied to death, even by Neeson himself. Nonetheless, Takenis probably an unavoidable influence at this point, and the theme of a government-trained dad trying to right wrongs for his daughter's sake has some obvious resonance with the upcoming Punisher series.
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While you're checking out comic book adaptations, go ahead and see one about a morally ambiguous vigilante fighting corruption from the shadows and blowing stuff up real good. Frank Castle could only dream of having the same kind of setup as Hugo Weaving's V, who guides Natalie Portman on a guerilla crusade against a totalitarian government in the near future. Also, Stephen Fry doesn't turn up in many movies like this, so enjoy his rare appearance in this role as a TV personality under target.
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The Dark Knightmay be Christopher Nolan's best-loved Batman flick, but this one got the series rolling and jump-started the wave of "dark and gritty" superhero films we're still dealing with today. Whatever you may think of Nolan's fight scenes, there's no denying that Batman Begins is a singular take on the Batman mythos, tracing Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne from childhood trauma to life as a grizzled crime fighter. While the Scarecrow doesn't get nearly enough screen time, Cillian Murphy plays a wonderful Jonathan Crane.
Credit: Warner Bros.
This may not have been the first cinematic adaptation of everyone's favorite skull-wearing gun nut, but we'll leave you to watch the 1989 Dolph Lundgren version at your own risk. Thomas Jane's turn as the Punisher boldly upped the ante of the hero's tragic origins. In the film, he loses not just his wife and children, as in the comic, but his extended family. Damn. This is also one of many ill-advised 2000s movies in which John Travolta tried to play a stone-cold villain — something we're still not entirely sold on.
How many movies begin with the tired premise of someone waking up in a room with no idea how they got there? Oldboyis one of the few movies that does this tired trope right, taking off in several surprising and creative directions before a true sucker punch of an ending. It's a long, harrowing journey, but it's also a sad story about the shame lurking behind a very long vendetta. Do not watch this one if you are uncomfortable with octopus cruelty.