C-3: The Golden age of Cyberpunk
C-3 is the current age that we now find ourselves in, or as I like to call it, the Golden Age of Cyberpunk. Why is it the Golden Age, you ask? Because of the amount of Cyberpunk content that is being published, and the quality of content, really makes one feel that Cyberpunk is now.
Tron: Legacy (2010)
The Golden Age started with Tron: Legacy in 2010. Another breakthrough in special effects, Tron: Legacy was a sequel to the original Disney Tron live-action, which was based off an old videogame. This time featuring Jeff Bridges and Michael Sheen, it also had the legendary Daft Punk composing the musical score, as well as having a cameo in the film itself.
Total Recall (2012)
After Tron: Legacy, You will want to watch the Total Recall reboot featuring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. With great special effects and visuals, this film is heavier on action but a lot lighter on the deeper issues at its source material contained.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Next, following the trend of reboots, watch the Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation with the controversial casting of Scarlett Johannsen. With an excellent score and amazing visuals, you can decide whether or not the film was better, or worse, than the source material.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
After Ghost in the Shell, you will want to watch a sequel to the titular Blade Runner movie, called Blade Runner 2049. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and scored by none other than Hans Zimmer himself, Blade Runner 2049 features Ryan Gosling as the new Blade Runner, while bringing back the legendary Harrison Ford himself. They join a great cast of Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, and Robin Wright, and the visuals are once again incredible.
Altered Carbon (2018)
Next in line in the Cyberpunk list is to read Richard K Morgan’s Altered Carbon before watching the Netflix series from Laeta Kalogridis that premiered on Netflix in February of 2018. Make sure to read the book before watching Season 1, as there are significant differences. Season 2 is current in production, and the novel Altered Carbon is actually book 1 of the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, which is where the series is drawing a lot of its source material. You will probably want to read books 2 and 3 of the series before seeing further seasons. While Ghost in the Shell the previous year was a reminder that Cyberpunk still existed, it was the return of Blade Runner 2049 combined with this highly successful series that cemented the return of the genre to mainstream again.
Ready Player One (2018)
This was further cemented by the subsequent live-action adaptation of Ready Player One by none other than Steven Spielberg himself, and is next on your list of Cyberpunk classics. You can’t get more mainstream than Spielberg. Read Ernest Cline’s book before watching the movie, as there are some differences, but both are excellent and Cline was actually a very active part in the creative direction of the film.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Finally, finish the Golden Age by reading the manga and watching the live action adaptation of Alita: Battle Angel from James Cameron. This movie is likely to have sequels follow, and in our opinion has already made a substantial impact on pop culture with its recent success.
There were many Cyberpunk films and works that were released during the Golden Age that are very much worth your time as well, but did not make it to the must-view or must-read list above. They include the live-action reboot of Judge dredd (2012, earlier C-3) as well as Elysium and Chappie by Neil Blomkamp, Anon (a Netflix original with Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried), and Upgrade.
So, to recap, this is the order I would suggest for C-3:
- Tron: Legacy (2010)
- Total Recall (2012)
- Ghost in the Shell (2017)
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
- Altered Carbon (2018) (Watch the series and read the novels)
- Ready Player One (2018) (Watch the movie and read the novel)
- Alita: Battle Angel (2019) (Watch the movie, the anime movie, and read the manga)
Honorable Mentions that you Should Really Watch
- Judge Dredd
I hope this beginner’s guide to Cyberpunk was useful. If you think I left something out, make sure to let me know in the comments below!