JUDGE DREDD Creator John Wagner Comments on New Film, DREDD

     January 19, 2012


In a rare interview with Judge Dredd comics creator, John Wagner, the writer reflected on the history of his creation and revealed just how excited he is for the new film, Dredd, starring Karl Urban (Star Trek). A British comic strip created by Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra for the sci-fi anthology “2000 AD,” Dredd was originally, according to Wagner:

“a very two-dimensional character, a vehicle for extreme behavior in an extreme society, more of a robot than a man. Today he’s more rounded, more human, a man capable of introspection, of questioning his own beliefs.”

“Two-dimensional” would be a kind description for the previous feature: the 1995 Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. Wagner gave his thoughts on that performance, as well as why he’s looking forward to the new version. Hit the jump for much more.

karl-urban-judge-dreddHeroComplex recently held the interview with Wagner and it can be read in its entirety here. He had a lot to say concerning the history of the character and how he’s changed over the years, as well as what he would have changed storywise. Regarding the Stallone-version of Judge Dredd, Wagner said the following:

“They told the wrong story — it didn’t have that much to do with Dredd the character as we know him. I don’t think Stallone was a bad Dredd, though it would have been better and lent him more cred if he hadn’t revealed his face. He was just Dredd in the wrong story. I envy their budget, though. Some of the CGI was very good, and the re-creations of the Angel Gang and the robot. The robot actually came from a [Judge Dredd editor] Pat Mills story and didn’t belong in Dredd, but it looked good. If the plot had revolved around characters like them the film would have been more successful.”

judge-dredd-lawmaster-bike-set-photoNow, compare that to what he’s saying about the Urban-version:

“The plot is about Dredd and his world. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of the character and his city – perhaps that was one of the failings of the first film; they tried to do too much and ended up with not a lot. Dredd homes in on the essential job of judging – instant justice in a violent future city. I like the actors, they’re well cast and they handled their parts well. Olivia Thirlby (Juno) is perfect as Anderson, the young psi judge. She gives the character a touching vulnerability. Karl Urban will not remove his helmet and will not kiss his costar.”

That should make a lot of Dredd fans happy and it sounds like this could be a solid start to a worthwhile franchise. Dredd, directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) stars Urban, Thirlby and Lena Headey (300) and opens September 21st. You can get caught up on all of our previous Dredd coverage here.

Here’s the official synopsis for Dredd:

DREDD takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary. The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and the frenetic vision of director Peter Travis bring DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.


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  • Jackie Diane

    It seems to me (no offense to the fans of the comics series; I am not too familiar with the comics) off the cuff that Dredd may be much more of a capable character to explore the social mores of a corrupt society drunk on its own power. Much moreso than an alien being whose body increases in strength based on the sun of a certain solar system. WHat I’m saying is that, as so, he would be much more socially relevant to the Big Blue Boyscout.
    Also, how the Hell do I enable this thing to update me via email when people respond to my posts?

    • Joe Soap

      Dredd has been reflecting sardonically on current and timeless political issues for 35 years in 2000AD. It’s just that people confuse the terribly camp and non-Dredd Stallone film with the real Dredd.

  • Northern Star

    The 1995 movie was lousy was because the script was lousy, Stallone behaved like a megalomaniac on-set and demanded changes, and with the exception of the Mega-City One skyline, the ABC Warrior Robot, and Mean Machine Angel, the movie got almost everything else wrong, but this new movie is going to ROCK, if Dredd’s own creator/longtime writer thinks they’re doing it right this time, that’s all I need to hear… bring on the trailer!

  • cams211

    Northern Star, I completely agree. Now what the hell is our trailer?


    I have a sinking feeling this is going to be another Punisher: War Zone.

  • henri

    I hope this works,I grew up on the comic.

  • teejay

    Waiting on the trailer! Im interested to see whats gonna happen with this. Urban is a solid actor he was great as bones. I have concerns with it, and I agree with DamnBASTERD. I really hope it will be good, but this is a story and character that is tricky. If you go campy it could be fun, but you could go over the top and really fuck it up. Or to serious.

  • aaronsullivan

    I know almost nothing about Judge Dredd, and I’m not writing this off, but it is difficult to get past the goofiness of that helmet design. It’s too… bulbous or something.

  • ddgmike

    Karl Urban is a talented actor, but not so talented that he can act with a helmet on for the entire film. How is the character supposed to evoke any empathy from the audience if we can’t see his face? What a stupid concept.

    • brandon

      This is the most ignorant comment I have ever seen in regards to a movie that hasn’t even been released or even released a trailer for that matter. This sounds like something Matt Goldberg would say.

    • VADER

      Never seen Robocop? Or witnessed the powerful emotion in vaders mask at the end of Empire or Jedi? (before the Noooo was added.)
      I agree with Brandon^^^

      Judge Dredd is one of the best comics ever! And the Sly film was the equivalent to Joel Schumachers “Batman & Robin film” only without good movies either side of it for jo public to compare it to.

      (I will argue though, Dredd had a lot more going for it than Batman & Robin did, such as ABC Robot and Angel gang and the sets/megacity1 etc)

      I hope this Dredd film is the Batman begins version that is needed. If it fails then the only other way for a reboot to go is Mocap, done like Tintin, but based on the Judge Death stories which have a more colorful painted feel. I suggest to anyone who’s never read a Dredd comic to hunt a few down on ebay and see what your missing.

      Theres even one called Judgement on Gotham, if theres any Batfans on here. stunning visuals, and the best depiction of scarecrow ever too.

    • Joe Soap

      That’s the point, Dredd is not exactly supposed to evoke empathy but it is quite easy to evoke empathy for ANY character if you need to, make their antagonist morally worse than themselves.

      You don’t think Dredd and 2000AD have been popular for 35 years for no reason do you? and believe it or not Dredd is probably the most complex ongoing character in comics due to the fact he ages in real time -his character development/arc reflects that- and has done since the comic was first published in 1977. How stupid, really, is that concept or do you prefer your comic characters to be eternal teenagers/college kids or reporters who wear glasses to hide their identities?

    • Joe Soap

      Did you not empathise with V from V for Vendetta, Darth Vader in ROTJ or even the Elephant Man who wore a sack-mask?

  • spongefist

    The bike looks lame…

  • Michael McDonnell

    Shame that Paul Verhoeven didn’t do Judge Dredd 20 years ago it should’ve been more of a RoboCop, Total Recall type film, a ultra violent sci fi actioner.

  • Michael McDonnell

    When the 95 film was greenlit everything was going fine but when Stallone came onto it, it was a different story, the producers wouldn’t allow such a expensive star like Sylvester Stallone to have his face not shown which was problematic because Dredd is supposed to be the faceless representative of the law, the whole essence of the character just evaporated from the screen and the film suffered for it.

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  • cesar

    i have too many time waiting for a new “Dredd” and maybe god listen my voice!! Stallone did a very good roll in this movie and the new Dredd need to be as good as the first one, also, i recommend a new movie of William Defoe, it´s called “Hunter ” and it´s amazing!! check out the review http://enocmartinez.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/the-hunter/