Judge (Joseph) Dredd’s strip in the British comic 2000AD is the publication’s longest running, first seen in the second issue in 1977. The premise: in a dark and dangerous future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and executioner, Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence and even execute criminals on the spot. Judge Dredd was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra and was named the 7th greatest comic character by the British magazine Empire. AND this year IGN ranked him 35th in the “Top 100 comic books heroes”.
But… should the flagship character in the 2000AD universe (Judge Dredd) be a little more… well, cool? With a new movie scheduled for release in the summer of 2012 under the simple title ‘Dredd’ (yes, the same summer as The Avengers movie) I’m left scratching my head, asking: is the character still relevant as-he-is on printed page? Even with the bias, British praising?!, is he interesting enough to warrant a big summer blockbuster? The blurb online teases “In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals in the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.” And again, I’m left scratching my head and feeling a bit jaded by the whole idea. The “reality-altering drug, SLO-MO” to me, suggests allot of moody visuals and potentially cheesy slow motion camera shots… a risk maybe?
I remember the first comic I ever picked up was Judge Dredd vs Batman, the art quite literally rendering me speechless and the written story claimed me as a comic book fan forever. Everything about it was cool: I clearly remember enjoying the chemistry between the 2 lead characters – they very much both belonged in the same ‘place’ as characters at the time (in my mind at least) and I would love to see this movie elevate Dredd to true global heights where he genuinely belongs.
If AD had the foresight to re-boot the Dredd character completely and tell some modern, edgy and refreshing stories ahead of time, they could’ve potentially gathered some momentum ‘across the pond’ (in the US) prior to the movie release in the summer. As he is, a movie just feels a bit… lazy?!, though I do love the character and would really enjoy seeing it do well.
Is anyone actually interested in Dredd? – and the new movie in the summer? not sure.
I notice 2000AD is putting out another Free Comic Book Day edition with a new Judge Dredd story. Perhaps they will try some new direction with this issue. Hopefully they have a cool project in the wings ready to capitalize on the interest generated on FCBD.
Speaking as a Judge Dredd fan since the early 1980s, it’s a shame that the new movie does not appear to have exploited the incredible Dredd back catalogue of characters and stories (but then I haven’t seen it yet so who knows). However, if this movie is intended just to get people to know Dredd and his world that might be okay. Like Stallone, they have clearly ‘messed with the program’ by redesigning costumes, weapons, bikes, etc. which seems a bit ridiculous to me. Some very smart artists and several decades made Dredd’s look what it is today, and surely that should be celebrated, not jettisoned. However, after the crashing disappointment of the Stallone movie, I am not going to go into this one with any expectations – Dredd has remained a background figure in comics since the Stallone movie blew his chance for global recognition, so if they screw it up now, it won’t make much of a difference. But if the new movie is half decent, maybe it will open up a chance for more adventurous onscreen outings…
I guess there is enough time for them to make some ‘moves’ before the summer, I just hope there’s a decent plan of action to support the movie, as The Avengers may steal some thunder I think… it could be fantastic! but, it could also be next summers’ Conan 😉
It’s a good shout on the characters and stories they could employ for sure… what movie would you make as a Dredd fan? and would you make the same movie if you were trying to generate new interest?
Also, do you think a solid crossover (with the right character) would help or hurt him in the comics?
The Angels are still a fantastic Dredd nemesis, and I always loved Fink Angel and Ratty. The Angels appearance in the first Dredd movie was the only bit I liked, though it could have been better and was all too brief. Judge Death worked brilliantly in the comics but might look a bit silly on screen. Satanus, Otto Sump, Caligula & the Kleggs, assorted robots and muties would all be very good – but really it’s the tone of Dredd that matters most – a good movie will capture the mix of cynicism, satire and humour that’s really unique. Other properties worthy of movies? Surely Rogue Trooper, since genetics is catching up with him, and Nemesis the Warlock – oh to see a Nemesis movie!! If anyone could recreate the world of O’Neil’s Nemesis stories, it would be magnificent!
Ok, so It’s fair to say your Dredd movie would be a little… ‘indulgent’ 🙂 Fantastic call on some of these characters! Do you think a ‘super-fan’ should ever be involved in the production of a comic book movie? Or should the creative team on a movie, have more of a… general feel for the required vibe?
Movies are businesses as much as art, and need to stay true to a character in order not to alienate the audience, or at least that part of it made up of fans or people familiar with the character. At the same time, movies are art, and ought to have full scope to do whatever they like with a character – we like experimentation in comics, so why not in movies too? However, a movie is different to a comic because it stands as a very powerful representation for any character – it can define a character for a generation to audiences that no comics can reach. So it matters a lot to fans that a movie is a fair representation of the character they love, and creators need to respect that. This would be the only reason, I think, to stick to the existing styles and mythology of Dredd (for example) – and fans are a real help here with a good intuition based on years of experience about what is ‘right’ in the look and beahviour of the character (of course long-term writers are best here).
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