My read on the ‘Dredd’ sequel as it stands is this, and feel free to jump in and correct me at any point. Despite a monumental outpouring of love from the fans, the chances of a film are currently nil because it didn’t make enough money at the box office.
One shining ray of light on the horizon for Dredd fans has been the ongoing success of the Marvel and Netflix collaboration, which has given a great deal of hope that a Dredd TV pilot or series might become a possibility – and rightly so. With over 30 years of history, the Dredd-Verse contains a wealth of brilliant material to work with, offering endless possibilities and plot-lines for a showrunner to explore.
The people who get to make those decisions though are perhaps understandably reticent. The character of Joe Dredd has little compunction whatsoever with the cool and calculated ending of a life for what he unequivocally believes to be right. It’s what he does. It’s why we love him. But its also why a significant part of cinema audiences and film studios still shy away from him.
The character of Frank Castle faces exactly the same problem. Traditional hero movies contain protagonists with strict moral codes, who are merciful and kill only where necessary. Dredd and The Punisher on the other hand kill with little or no conscience for what they are doing, justifying it to themselves, and not seeking any form of approval.
So we’re in a situation where we want Drerd stories, but the resistance to bring them to the screen is currently too strong. Fan pressure and comic strips alone won’t be enough to change minds, so there needs to be another way to get the character back into the public eye, garner positive critical response, generate a bit of cash, and bolster the pitch to the studios for another shot at live-action Dredd. And my argument for that is an animated movie.
The days of cartoons being just for kids are long gone. By the mid 90’s, the X-Men and Spider-Man animated features were already dealing with adult issues beyond those that comics were traditionally designed for, and the rise of Anime had made animated features critically acclaimed. DC, in particular, have embraced the genre, using it as a way of testing plots and characters with the public before initiating live-action versions, as seen recently with Suicide Squad and Court of the Owls features.
Another project stalled in development hell is the Halo movie. But in 2010 an assortment of animated films from the Halo universe were released on DVD. The Master Chief only really features in one of these, and the rest are used to explore the backstory of the series, and the impact of the concept on all levels and areas of the designated universe. Even for non-gamers, it’s a totally accessible feature, containing good, traditional science fiction material.
Here are 5 stories we think could work:
5. The Apocalypse War
Given the striking resemblance of a certain current presidential hopeful to the main antagonist in the ‘Origins’ storyline, I’d shy away from that, and opt for The Apocalypse War as a first trip into how MC-1 has emerged from it’s bloody past.
Following Orlok as he sows the seeds of all-out Block War, and then the full-on East Meg invasion, it’s warfare on a monumental scale, but this could easily be conveyed using modern animation. The audience will follow the Justice Dept as it loses all that it holds dear, and does the unthinkable to win back its people.
It’s what everybody’s still waiting to see on their screens, the Dark Judges. And Necropolis is about as nightmarish as it gets. Dredd cast aside, and his people ritually and methodically exterminated by dark otherworldly forces. Horrific stuff, where the audience is called on to join the fight back against these supernatural threats, in the Big Meg’s darkest hour. Animated versions of Fear, Fire and Mortis would certainly be visually impressive, carving their way though the populace of this great fallen city.
3. The Hunting Party
Pulling back on scale a touch, this series would be a good one in exploring some of the darker corners that the Cursed Earth has to offer. Following Dredd and his team of cadets in their search for the attackers that wrought havoc in his home city, the various threats and allies they encounter, including a little trip to the past, would make for some pretty impressive visuals, and also explore the history and inner workings of the Justice Dept, through the eyes and experiences of the young trainees.
For an off-world trip to the judicial penal colony, an animated feature would be the safest and most cost-effective method. It would also be able to encompass the bloody retribution wrought by Grice and his cronies on their return to the city that betrayed them. A flaming judicial civil war, now that would be a sight to behold.
1. Judgement for Dredd
This one’s got it all. Dredd’s abduction and a very public and personal challenge to his creed and methods. The intrigue and plotting behind the scenes in Mega City One, culminating in the massacre of the Justice Dept by the robot army. And a good old fashioned action set-piece to save the day. Would look brilliant in an animated movie.
But these are just ideas, cherry-picked from a trip through the history of our favourite Judge. Which one of Dredd’s stories would you want to see bought to life?