Pete Travis' 2012 action thriller Dredd will go down as one of the most wholly underrated comic book movies of the last few years. A near-perfect adaptation of the Judge Dredd mythos, the Karl Urban fronted, single location thriller offered an awesome peek into a badass world that's more than deserving of further examination. However, the original script for the project was quite a bit different from the film, as it would've explored the evil and bizarre Judge Death character. Judge Dredd comic scribe, John Wagner, elaborated on what happened:
That was actually the first script that Alex Garland did, was a Judge Death script. But Fox, who they were dealing with at the time, turned it down. They wanted more nuts and bolts before they went into the [metaphysical].
During a recent interview with Screen Geek, Judge Dredd legend John Wagner opened up regarding the earlier version of 2012's Dredd that almost materialized. Instead of the gritty, Die Hard-esque thriller that we eventually received, screenwriter Alex Garland wrote a script centering on the Judge Dredd character known as Judge Death. However, the studio didn't want to take the Dredd franchise into the fantasy genre, and eventually the idea was dropped altogether.
It's not that surprising to learn that FOX wasn't overly eager to delve into a Judge Death storyline. The character is a supernatural entity from another dimension where the very act of living has been declared a crime. Essentially a spirit with the ability to inhabit the bodies of other people, and phase through objects, this idea would've taken the Dredd narrative into a radically different direction. While the 2012 version of Dredd maintained a very solid footing in the realm of dystopian sci-fi, this story would've lunged headfirst into the fantasy genre. To put it bluntly: it's absolutely bonkers. Dredd was already a hard sell on mainstream audiences (primarily due to poor marketing) and this likely would've been even more difficult.
Of course, there exists a very real possibility that we may still get to see Karl Urban's Judge Dredd take on Judge Death at some point in the near future. The actor recently revealed that talks have started regarding the potential development of a _Dredd _TV series on a streaming platform such as Netflix, and it remains entirely plausible that Alex Garland's story ideas could eventually make their way to that medium. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but we remain hopeful.
What do you think of this direction for the Dredd franchise? Should it stay in the realm of grounded sci-fi, or would you like to see a potential Netflix series embrace the bizarre nature of Judge Death? We will bring you more information concerning the future of the Dredd series as new details become available to us.