Judge Dredd joins the list of many excellent comic book characters that have been butchered in the eyes of the public due to their incredibly horrible film adaptations. When you think of bad comic book movies such as Steel, Mystery Men, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Punisher, Jonah Hex and Howard the Duck...surely the Judge Dredd film is listed among them.
Judge Dredd (1995)
Let's be clear here, folks...I was 15 years old when this movie came out and I thought it was the shit. Clearly, I was an idiot when I was 15. Of course, over the years I've grown to see this movie for what it is (a complete piece of shit). But that doesn't make up for the fact that this movie got me interested in the comic books.
Originally published in 1977 as part of the U.K.'s long-running sci-fi comic 2000A.D., Judge Dredd proved to be one of the most popular serials in the comic. Originally created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, Judge Dredd was a brutal law enforcer in the post-apocalypse city of Mega-City One, which sits at the edge of a radiated wasteland. There are a few Mega-Cities located around the world, and all of them are ruled by the Judges. The Judges act as judge, jury and executioner when necessary, and often enforce strict punishments for any mere infraction of the law.
What makes Judge Dredd stand out to me in a sea of tough-guy comics is the fact that Dredd lives in a prophetic post-apocalypse futuristic world, where robots can not only be your servant but cause vicious uprisings, and where tensions run deep between the various City Judges. Not only that, but the "wasteland" aspect of this universe is host to a lot of Mad Max-esque tales, involving mutants and exiled citizens (Judges included).
Judge Dredd himself is basically Clint Eastwood at his most badass, with a nonstop devotion to the law that borders on the psychotic. Dredd pushes himself like a machine in his dedication to patrolling the streets. He's very similar to the Marvel Comics character Punisher in that regard, as they are both psychotically driven to never stop in their pursuits.
There were countless reprints of the original Dredd material from 2000A.D. in various comic books released by a few different companies over the years, mainly in the U.K and Australia. However, Judge Dredd did have a small following here in the States as well. Some of today's biggest writers in the industry got their start writing Judge Dredd for 2000A.D., such as Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.
So why the hell did it all go wrong when it came time for a movie adaptation?
You can blame it on bad merchandising, Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider.
Probably the greatest review of the Judge Dredd film ever recorded.
There was a real big push to promote the Judge Dredd movie. After such box office bombs as Rocky V, Oscar and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!, Sylvestor Stallone couldn't afford another failure, so a lot was riding on Judge Dredd. A quickly-produced video game tie-in to the movie was released on both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo in efforts to drum up interest among younger audiences.
For the record, this game SUCKS.
The rights to Judge Dredd were even briefly licensed to DC Comics from 1994-1995, who released two separate Judge Dredd titles that featured a different continuity than the original series. Judge Dredd even appeared in a couple one-shots with Batman.
For the record, both of these stories sucked.
Ultimately, the movie sucked. The video game sucked. The comics put out by DC Comics all sucked. As far as public perception in America went...Judge Dredd simply sucked.
But hey, I liked the movie at the time so I went and bought up a bunch of the older Dredd comics from the local comic shop. I thought they were great. As time went on, I forgot about the movie and continued to read Judge Dredd stories whenever I came across them for cheap.
There's a new Judge Dredd movie in the works, simply titled Dredd. It will star Karl Urban (of Pathfinder and Star Trek fame) as Dredd and is reported to be a more faithful adaptation to the original comics than the Sylvester Stallone nightmare. John Wagner is even supposed to be a consultant for the film. That's good news! Hell, Karl Urban even looks the part!
Unfortunately, they've been working on this movie for awhile now and this image is the only thing of substance that's been released to drum up interest. That's not a good sign. Sigh....
So who wins this battle? The comic book version of Judge Dredd does, of course! Ignore the movie. The books are superb, especially if you like insane tough guys who fight for justice.
There is a fan-film being made called Judge Minty, which takes place in the world of Judge Dredd. From everything I can see in the trailer below, it looks like its going to be an amazing adaptation of the books. Who knows, maybe Judge Minty will wind up being the Judge Dredd movie we've all been waiting for!