While Dredd won't seeing a proper return to the big screen, its new home on television could offer the best format for the story of Mega City One.
The arrival of the 2012 Dredd feature film (also known as Dredd 3D) starring Karl Urban as the titular title character, Judge Dredd, put a bullet in the memory of the disastrous 1995 Judge Dredd feature film starring Sylvester Stallone. Directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) from a screenplay by producer Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Dredd was a much more faithful and enjoyable adaptation for fans of the character’s decades of stories in the UK comics series 2000 A.D. Unfortunately, Dredd underperformed at the box office, ending its chance for sequels. Though in a way, this was a blessing in disguise as many fans feel the Judge Dredd concept and universe is much better suited as an ongoing serialized television series.
The hopes of Dredd fans for his return were recently buoyed by the announcement of a television series in the works called Judge Dredd: Mega City One. IM Global, which produced the 2012 Dredd, is also producing the television series, which is great news for the series maintaining the quality level of the feature film. Presumably, the series would take place in the same universe as the movie, though the poster IM Global released touting Mega City One immediately casts a bit of doubt: the poster reads “400-million citizens, each one a potential criminal,” when the opening narration by Judge Dredd in the movie declared the city’s population is twice that, 800-million.
However, this doesn’t mean the TV show wouldn’t be set in the same universe; the poster’s census numbers could be the first clue that the series is set after the events of the film and that some sort of catastrophe occurred in the intervening years that wiped out half of Mega City One’s population. Even if that proves to be the case, the Judges from the Hall of Justice who act as judge, jury, and executioner in their duty to try to maintain law and order in Mega City One still have their work cut out for them. According to Dredd’s narration about the movie’s population numbers, the 800-million inhabitants of Mega City One are responsible for 17,000 crimes per day. The Judges can only handle 6% of crimes reported. Even doubling that number means it’s a harrowing and losing battle to be a Judge in Mega City One.
The most important connection a Dredd TV series can have to the movie would be the character of Judge Dredd himself: Karl Urban is in negotiations to reprise his role as Judge Joe Dredd. For years, Urban has actively campaigned for a continuation of Dredd. As Urban himself recently said at the 2017 Star Trek Las Vegas convention: “I am in discussions with them about that. I told them that if they write the material and give Dredd something to do and give him a function, I will be there. I would love to.” Urban’s potential return to the role of Judge Dredd is exciting news; rarely does an actor who essayed a character in a feature film agree to continue the role in a television spin-off. What’s more, Urban proved himself to be the definitive live-action Judge Dredd, with his somber scowl, believable presence, as his true-to-the-comics dedication to never removing his helmet.
It’s not known whether Olivia Thirlby, who portrayed the rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson, is interested in returning. As Anderson, an orphaned mutant psychic who was on her first day of duty in the film, Thirlby was a bright light in Dredd. She was the audience’s surrogate into the world of Mega City One and more than held her own opposite Urban. The film only briefly touched on Anderson’s backstory, why mutants are ostracized in the Dredd universe, and what the limits of her telepathic abilities are – the movie mostly depicted this as an ability to hear the violent sexual acts the criminals in Mega City One wanted to perpetrate on her. Thirlby returning to the role alongside Urban would be ideal.