If the transition of the Marvel comic universe onto film and television has demonstrated anything, it’s that trying to convert a perceived anti-hero from script to screen is far from easy.
Anti-heroes are seen to work alone, not needing support or emotional validation from others. They are able to make quick clinical judgements and killing comes both easily and naturally to them, their actions not restricted by conventional morality.
Both the Punisher and Ghost Rider have suffered cinematic misfires, unable to secure regular positions in the overall MCU. Wolverine and Hulk may have enjoyed recurring success in their respective ensemble features, but their solo outings have been less well received. Here’s hoping that the forthcoming Deadpool movie is crazy enough to buck the trend.
How is this relevant to Mega City 1’s top lawman? Well, although he operates by the letter of the law, he prefers to work alone. He kills repeatedly, without demonstrating much in the way of conscience, and is openly unconcerned with the thoughts and feelings of others. As a result, whilst his last cinema outing secured an exceptionally strong core fanbase, Dredd’s portrayal failed to secure the emotional connection with critics and audiences needed to assure the financial backing for a sequel.
Much as with the Punisher, it would appear the overall cinema going majority prefer their heroes to be rigidly traditional. Conflicted with an inner turmoil, and fighting for the adoration and understanding of their people. Boring, I know…
Netflix’s recent Daredevil series has been exceptionally well crafted and received, and this has given renewed hope to Dredd fans that the character will be picked up and treated the same way. But in order to secure a series, the material used would have to be able to compensate for, and indeed overcome the lead character being stereotyped as a simple anti-hero.
Which should be easy enough. Anybody who has dipped their toe into the Dredd comics will appreciate the sheer history and scale of the material they contain. There are countless deep and varied story-arcs to immerse our hero in and no shortage of layered, conflicted allies and enemies alike for him to interact with.
The point I would make is this. A Dredd television series needs to move above and beyond Mega City 1. It will not be enough for a strong supporting cast of characters to make this work. A Netflix series would need to take Dredd’s methods and motives and put them up against something notably different. That will be the only way to truly get to what this character is, and what he stands for. Simply running a 12 episode series in the Big Meg, surrounded by other judges and criminals will merely result in him yet again being written off as a gun-toting vigilante.
So that in mind, cast your eyes over the below suggestions, and let us know where you would want to see Old Stoneyface go in the Dredd Universe:
6. Cursed Earth
Of course the most obvious choice would be the nearest radically different environment to MC1, the radioactive wasteland that surrounds it.
The barren desert that stretches out below the defensive guns of the Mega City hold an endless wealth of tales and supporting characters for Dredd to immerse himself in.
From the explosive sermons of the Missionary Man, to the poisonous assessins of the Gila Munja, and finally to the big bad themselves, the Angel Clan. All would be not only worthy opponents, but also highlight the chaos that threatens to envelop the city, and justify the violent methods that Dredd employs to protect his citizens.
5. Brit Cit
Just as the comics sought to expose and satirize fundamental issues and concepts in American Culture, they weren’t afraid to turn the mirror on their own homeland.
Apart from preserving and then comedically showcasing some of the traditional and stranger aspects that are perceived to put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain, a trip to Brit Cit also provides some particularly oddball and memorable characters to challenge Dredd’s outlook on the law.
From the Columbo-alike Armitage, to the savagery of the Brit-Cit Brute, a heavy dose of comedy would be able to be interspersed with the drama, easily challenging people’s negative perceptions of brand Dredd.
4. Sov Block/Hondo Cit
Whilst the more western Mega Cities can be perceived as more laid back in their approach to Judgement than the Big Meg, their Russian and Japanese versions are just as violent, with perhaps even more in the way of social and political intrigue than our protagonist is quite used to.
Riddled with Yakuza corruption, the backstories of the officers of Hondo Cit, with the likes of Inaba and Shimura to draw upon, would be a stark contrast to Dredd’s cloned and manufactured upbringing. The use of advanced technology and the influences of the Samurai in how there judges dispense justice would also be visually impressive on the small screen.
The East Meg provides some absolutely brilliant story opportunities to bring to the screen. Providing that the Apocalypse War has already happened in a new screen world of Dredd, Orlok the assassin provides a truly sinister opponent for our man to go toe to toe with There’s also the Red Razors programme, and the scheming and intrigues of the factions and groups created by defeat in the devastating war against their Western opponents.
3. Outer Space
Well how better than to throw our lead man off balance, than to take his feet firmly off the ground? The extraterrestrial exploits of humanity are well charted in the pages of Judge Dredd, with the dispensation of law and order left to STAR Judges or Space Corps to enforce, depending on which version the series wants to go with.
Space adventures in the Dredd universe go hand in hand with politics and intrigue, such as those demonstrated in Insurrection. There’s a general feel of anger and resentment towards the people back on Earth, as they are perceived to be indifferent to the lives lost and struggles that take place in their name. Which puts them at odds with the Lawman who stands to protect them.
Then, of course, there’s Titan. Ever wonder where a corrupt Judge ends up? A truly repugnant penal colony, the faces of the prisoners grotesquely adapted to survive in the harsh conditions, a visit from Dredd could serve to expose how many of the population he is responsible for, and for what reasons they are there. An opportunity for great character development against a hellish backdrop.
The judges of Ireland and Australia are both perceived within the Dredd Universe as lazy, and unprofessional. Their incorporation into bigger stories such as Judgement Day shows this to be untrue, but on Dredd’s trips into their very different Mega Cities, he is immediately bought into conflict with their values and methods, which in turn, puts the spotlight on his.
Trips to either environment bring rich veins of material. From the comedic interactions with the Irish judges in their more subdued society, to an opportunity to add the legendary character Chopper in the famous Supersurf contests.
1. Parallel Dimensions
Of course, assuming that money wasn’t going to be an object (if only!), what self-respecting acolyte of 2000AD wouldn’t want to explore the origins of the Dark Judges, or the conquered worlds of the sorcerer Sabbat?
Necropolis and Judgement Day feature truly terrifying opponents who intrude into Dredd’s reality from their own, and push Mega City 1 to the very brink of destruction. It’s in these conflicts that we see the near destruction of the entire Justice Department, as well as those of the other Mega Cities.
And they might also provide an opportunity for assistance from a certain dimension-hopping Bounty-Hunter. Strontium Dog Netflix series, anyone?
What did you think of the list? Let us know in the comment section at the bottom of the page!