There’s a film coming soon. One that I have anticipated since I was 15. Such anticipation that was utterly crushed by Sylvester Stallone in 1995 and revitalized to full strength in the middle of last year because of an announcement. An announcement stating that they would have another crack at doing it right. A film that could finally do justice to the character that is Joe Dredd. A character known to a select few in what you could call a cult following from an adult UK based comic called 2000AD. He is the law and you better be prepared for Dredd.
Judge Dredd is among some of the greatest comic characters I’ve ever read. Whilst it was fun to read about him, you would hate to live in the same world as him. He is a cop in a gigantic futuristic city called Mega City One, given the title of Judge which essentially cuts out the middle men. He will physically arrest you, sentence you and jail you in a matter of minutes……or kill you if he deem it necessary. No court system whatsoever. The Judges run the show and decide everyones fate on the spot. The population of Mega City One is already too overblown so capital punishment is the order of the day should you step too far out of line. Dredd himself is regarded by every single criminal to be the one you don’t want pissing on your parade. His reputation is one of no emotion, utter devotion to the law, getting the job done with extreme prejudice and having some incredible luck on his side. He is human, though as emotional as the computer you are now staring at. Everything is black and white…..basically, he’s a gigantic unforgiving asshole, and we love him for it because we’re on the outside looking in. Steal some food to survive and get caught?….. That’s 20 years for you sunshine and be thankful he didn’t blow your brains out. Dredd does not drokk around and nobody likes him. However, when shit really goes south on a grand scale, Dredd is the one everyone depends on to even the scales of justice, and that he does in spectacular fashion.
So yes, a very simple explanation of the man with over 30 years of lore behind him but one I’m sure the coming film will fill in the blanks for. Karl Urban stars as Dredd and the promo pics recently released of him in the suit are suitable grimy and gritty as opposed to Stallone’s polished gold armor and comical black spandex. The look of it already appeals and I’ve only seen a couple of pics so far. The biggest plus thus far is Urban’s insistence that Dredd will NEVER take off his helmet throughout. With myself and many others being huge fans of Joe Dredd, we’ve never seen his face, something that Stallone managed to do within 5 minutes of the 1995 debacle and spend the rest of the film helmetless (yes, I know it wasn’t Stallone’s fault, he was just doing as he was directed). A goddamn travesty…oh…..and his sidekick was Rob Schneider. Rob Drokking Schneider! Aaaarrrgghhhh! anyway, let’s just forget that ever happened. Even if this new film does just a teeny bit of justice to the man, the fans will be happy about it. For too long now we’ve had to wince everytime we think of that film and now with a reboot we can finally put it behind us and hope for a new franchise should it do well. Fingers crossed.
I will apologise for the length of this article now as I’m only just getting started. I didn’t start this to only write about the incredible character of Judge Dredd and the coming film but rather the other stories that lay within the pages of 2000AD that would make excellent fodder for more feature films. 2000AD has had some of the greatest story arcs and characters I’ve ever seen and it’s a damn shame that it doesn’t get more recognition worldwide. I am Australian and have read 2000AD between the times I was age 15 to about 19. Unfortunately, bands, music, girls, booze and certain other substances took over from there but I’ve always looked back very fondly on the comic and poured through my old issues occasionally exclaiming ” They should be making films about this…..not rebooting spiderman!”. Seriously, the quality within the comic is unrivaled by any saccharin coated Marvel or DC fluff. The artwork within each issue is utterly mindblowing. This shit is hard, devastating, violent, bloody, emotional and chock full of punch the air drokk-yeah’s. 2000AD is criminally unknown and I can only hope that the Dredd film will make a decent splash with ripples of people discovering the fantastic comic for the first time, which in turn may open the gates for other properties to get their own adaptions. It’s a veritable gold mine awaiting discovery.
For those who may be confused and are thinking “isn’t 2000AD only about Judge Dredd?” let me explain the basic layout of an issue. When I was collecting, an issue would come out every week. Each issue has about 4 separate stories going at once in an episodic fashion with Judge Dredd being the flagship character and always the first story on page 1. Other stories would come and go but Dredd was always there every week with a continuing adventure from the week before or a completely new one starting up. Some stories would run up to 15 issues and beyond, others could be 5 or even sometimes just a one issue filler. It’s these other stories that I’m interested in seeing some films for and while I realise that the fan base isn’t big enough to warrant a film studio wanting to pour money into an unknown brand, I can safely say that it only takes one kickass trailer to ignite the excitement of the world. I never read the 300 comic, nor Watchmen or Sin City for that matter but the trailers alone ensured my arse in a cinema seat come release time. Any of these 2000AD stories done well would do the same. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite film-worthy stories and characters from 2000AD that truly deserve feature films……
ABC Warriors: in what was a highlight of the 1995 Judge Dredd flop was the cameo appearance of one of the ABC Warriors as a small nod to the true fans. The ABC Warriors are a group of rogue sentient war robots, each with their own battlefield skills. There is far too much lore to pour over here due to the fact they we’re created in 1979. In a nutshell, they deliver poetic justice to those whom deserve it whilst being constantly hunted by humans to be put out of commission. Kinda like a robotic A-Team, but far more psycho. Each character is fully developed and quirky beyond belief. There’s a big red one with a massive sledgehammer for a hand that can brutally mow through legions of enemies, an interrogator with a penchant for going a little too far with torture and loving every minute of it, a crackshot sniper with serious mental problems and a strange desire to dress in lingerie, a giant hulk-like robot with the IQ of a dog but the loyalty to match, a mysterious and fiercely religious leader with unknown origin, a small sewer maintenance robot which was mostly comic relief (pardon the pun) and reveled in his own filth and witticisms along with a few other mad as a sackful of cats droids. The ABC Warriors are one of the most long standing storylines of the whole comic next to Judge Dredd and would make an excellent film, or an animated one could be even better. Someone please make this happen.
Robo-Hunter: Sam Slade is a gruff, no nonsense, cigar chomping man’s man and hunter of rogue robots that are far more troublesome than anything that appeared in the shitty film Runaway with Tom Selleck. Like a Blade Runnery type story but with much more comedic overtones. Plenty of great material to pillage from this series.
Strontium Dogs: A group of mutants created from the radiation of nuclear wars on earth, this ragtag bunch led by the enigmatic Johnny Alpha had its fair share of incredibly deep characters, some of which skewed off into their own comics due to their immense popularity. Most notably for me is Durham Red, the vampire-like ultra deadly ultra hot chick and Feral, a catlike teenage humanoid with incredible strength and speed but would mutate into something hideous and uncontrollable when pissed off. As far as I can remember in the storyline, his own team had to put him down as he was becoming increasingly unstable….but then, the interwebz says he was brought back. Of course he was, in comic land anything is possible.
Finn: Cornish metalhead Cab Driver by day, witch who uses a potent combination of magic, technology and military grade weapons against ancient evil beings by night. Finn has so many great things about him that would translate very well to film. His enemies alone are quite spectacular but it’s his cunning and witchcraft combined with machine guns that would entice the punters to want to see it. Before any of his missions he would camouflage himself at night by going to a cemetery and “collecting” shadows to cover himself with. Some really inspired ideas from this series and it never takes itself too seriously. Finn also looks suitably badass with his gas mask/hero mask hybrid. Superb stuff. A trailer alone would be enough to ensure bums on seats for this one.
Armored Gideon: A giant robot charged with protecting the earth from Demons trying to break through to our dimension and take over. His entire vocabulary is comprised of the word “Annihilate!”. This would certainly fall into the territory of action-comedy as the comic was a very entertaining read, especially when the Gideon would go ballistic. Mostly preposterous, but really, any superhero film is anyway.
Button Man: One of the most reality based stories I read in 2000AD and set in our time as well. A hitman is hired to take out a target and finds himself in a sinister game against other hitmen orchestrated by the ultra rich. Like underground dogfighting but on a completely new level. This story in particular was utterly brilliant and although simple, is completely original.
Batman vs. Dredd: Judgement on Gotham – this was a separate release to the comic and a collaboration between two franchises. A total geekgasm for both fans of Batman and the Judge. A vicious criminal from Mega City One gets hold of a dimension jumping device and finds himself in Gotham city. After causing some calamity in the city he is accosted by Batman and in the middle of a struggle, both are transported back to Mega City One. Judge Dredd does not tolerate vigilantism in his city and pursues Batman, eventually capturing and trying to beat information out of him. Batman escapes his bonds and returns the favor of a savage beating to Dredd during the process. He eventually escapes with a little help from another Judge who understands the seriousness of the situation. Eventually both have to join forces to eliminate a common threat to both their cities. In the end, after all they went through, Dredd still wanted to haul Batman’s ass to jail even though Batman saved his life. Such is the nature of Dredd. Care was taken in the portrayal of fights between them both so as to not give either character more power over the other. This comic was epic and long and one of the more memorable things I’ve ever read. Fantastic. I can’t see a film ever being allowed to happen, but hey, stranger things have happened.
Slaine: a Conan-alike warrior set in much the same world of swords, steel and mystical creatures, but far more brutal than anything the Conan films delivered. Slaine was incredibly popular but I feel a film adaption would cop a lot of flak for the obvious Conan similarities. Still, I’d be up for it as would many many others.
There really are too many stories in the 2000AD wheelhouse to mention since the comic began way back in 1977 but these are definitely among my favorites of all time. Sure, my memory is a little vague since I’m now 37 but whenever comics are mentioned, 2000AD is the first that comes to my mind. I’m sure there’s a bunch of aficionados waiting to correct some storyline anomalies that I’ve described here or even suggest some great stories I’ve missed. There’s just too many to remember. Everything else just wasn’t hard edged enough and I always preferred a healthy dose of extreme violence with my comic reading. Surely with the world growing a little weary of the more traditional goody-goody comic book heroes, some 2000AD on the big screen would be refreshing and totally Zarjaz! Bring on Judge Dredd! Now, I have a strange hankering to go and pick up the latest copy of 2000AD at the newsagent, if you’ve never heard of it, you should probably do the same.