Forget Sylvester Stallone, forget removing the helmet, and most importantly forget Rob Schneider. Lionsgate's reboot of the Dredd property promises to be a faithful adaptation of the IPC Media comic, preserving all that fans love about it, and leaving everything else out.
While Dredd 3D doesn't hit theaters for another couple of weeks, its writer Alex Garland is already looking towards the future. He's not yet attached to scribe a Dredd sequel – and box office returns have yet to show audiences are interested – but Garland, nonetheless, has begun mapping out how he'd like to see future stories play out.
Speaking over on the 2000 AD Forums, Garland revealed that if a Dredd sequel were to happen it would throw classic Dredd icons like Fargo, Giant, the Angel Gang, and even Satanus into the mix. Conventional audiences might not be familiar with this venerable feast of characters, but Dredd fans will know them as integral pieces of the fiction.
Chief Judge Fargo, for example, is the founding father of the Judge System and was Mega-City One's first chief judge. More importantly than that, though, Judge Dredd is a clone of Fargo, making them essentially father and son.
Back when Fargo was first introduced, the writers had yet to establish this connection, and even revealed Fargo's likeness, ostensibly giving the mysterious Dredd a face. That being said, we doubt that will happen in the films, as the fact Dredd keeps his helmet on from start to finish is a major selling point.
A character like Satanus - a blood thirsty tyrannosaurus rex - is a really arduous undertaking, but if done well could make the sequel really unique. The Dredd films released thus far – both the Stallone adaptation and Dredd 3D – have tried to keep the story somewhat grounded, but the inclusion of Satanus would be the writers accepting every element of the comics whole cloth.
There could be a lot of characters to balance for a single film, but Garland seems to have it more fleshed out than he's letting on. He reveals that he'd like the character of Chopper – a graffiti artist turned sky surfer – to balance out the story, opening and closing the events of this second film.
If I was involved in a second movie, it would be about origins and subversion, and Chopper would feature. In fact, I think Chopper would start and end the story. Apart from him, my rough plan involves Fargo, Giant, Angel Gang, and a version of Satanus.
Garland doesn't want the film to end there, though; he'd like to see Dredd round out a trilogy with the Dark Judges serving as the main antagonists of this third movie. The Dark Judges are the epitome of the Judge Dredd villains, as they are undead versions of Judges who believe in the eradication of all life. Their thinking is that, since only living things can commit crimes, eliminating all living things (mainly humans) will prevent the potential for crime.
Even cooler than that, the Dark Judges (Death, Fear, Fire, and Mortis) are like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in that they have unique appearances centered on a specific idea. Judge Fire, for example, is constantly immersed in flames. But Garland doesn't want these Dark Judges to be a comic book parody of the Horseman; he wants them to be truly scary.
I think I’d try to make [the Dark Judges] really scary. Not play them for laughs. Just make them totally malevolent and lethal. And use practical effects where possible, except for Fire, which would be an on-set nightmare…The existential side to the Dark Judges is that they don’t see a point to life. If my film-trilogy daydream was to play out, I would completely rewrite my original script for the Dark Judges – because it was junk – and start again.
In addition to info on key story beats and characters, Garland shared a few more details about the proposed trilogy, including the presence of Anderson (played by Olivia Thirlby in Dredd 3D) in all three films, showcasing the Cursed Earth, and the potential of continuing the Dredd story lines in a TV series. Shows like Game of Thrones and The Wire have opened Garland's eyes to the storytelling possibilities of serialized pay-cable television, and it's entirely possible that Dredd could work in that space.
But by the way, just so it has been said, I actually think that maybe the best way forward for Dredd is television. American TV has completely rewritten the rule book where filmed drama is concerned. Game Of Thrones/The Wire/Breaking Bad… An equivalent version of Dredd would be fucking great. Imagine the epics…
It's a lot of (exciting) talk from Garland, but it's also something his busy schedule may keep him from seeing through. It's most important that Dredd 3D be a success at the box office, then maybe the 28 Days Later writer can be swayed into scripting out the trilogy.
Dredd 3D releases September 21, 2012 in theaters.
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