In Dredd’s long and illustrious career we’ve seen many a female Judge stepping up to the plate, from Anderson to McGruder, but the iconic British strip has never been written by a woman. Until now.
2000 AD, a sci-fi anthology that has run continuously since 1977, has enjoyed a reputation for creating fantastic women characters (Halo Jones!) in the various strips that focus on personality first, and gender last. Judge Anderson is perhaps the most well known example, and her portrayal in the 2012 film Dredd by Olivia Thirlby cemented that wonderfully by showing her as Dredd’s equal in every respect – including costume. In fact that very under-appreciated film is one of the strongest comic book movies of all time in terms of gender politics, carried out in a very “no big deal” manner.
The latest issue of SciFi Now (#76) not only has my extensively geeky review of the fabulous Dredd DVD and Blu-ray, but also my fab interview with the one and only Frank Quitely. So make sure you pick it up this month, or buy it digitally.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the Dredd film, but this was a great opportunity to really dig into the various easter eggs, nods to comics from throughout the decades, and even spot that little hint of Judge Death. As for Frank Quitely, it's always a pleasure to talk to the Nicest Man in comics about his upcoming projects and inspirations, and fun to see everyone drooling over his photo!
The last few years have seen comic books become the go-to source material for cinema, from Blade and X-Men right through to The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers. Most have featured women characters although those that focus solely on our favourite heroines are better forgotten in comparison to the glut of popular movies based on leading men. Team titles too have been hit and miss with women generally being judged for their looks before their character, although Helen Mirren and Angelina Jolie have both stolen the show in Red and Wanted respectively. Still, it was annoying for many fans to see Black Widow waving her ass in posters and always with that zipper down, despite her greater than expected screen time. Now one film has single-handedly bucked that trend, passing the Bechdel test, and with the best portrayal of women in an action film I have seen in years: Dredd.
Put simply, and this is extraordinary, there is no difference between the portrayal of male and female characters in this film. The women are not sexualised, weaker, shown less, or more emotional, and their wardrobes are genderless, but neither are they simply rendered as personality devoid hard-asses... The women characters are excellent characters who happen to be women.
Judge Dredd. Britain's favourite hero, dispensing the law in a future police state, satirising the very real and ever increasing threat of authoritarianism to our lives. Brutalised in a previous Sylvester Stallone movie that turned him from seriously stern Judge to camp crusader, Dredd is back with a grim and gritty film that harks back to his earliest strips.
Judge Anderson. A long-time friend of Dredd's, a tense friendship at times, Anderson is a female Judge with psychic powers. In the film we see Anderson as a rookie, sent out with Dredd on an evaluation run. Her outfit, her armour, is near identical to Dredd's - the singular difference being her lack of helmet, to better allow her psychic abilities. Anderson is portrayed as being more sympathetic than Dredd, but then again, so is just about every other Judge. In the comics, Anderson has been around since the early days and proved so popular that she headlines her own spin-off series, Anderson: Psi-Division.
Ma-Ma. The villain of the piece and a complete psychopath. This woman runs her criminal gang with an iron fist, torturing and killing anyone who disappoints her or stands in her way. Her domain is the Peach Trees 200 story tower block, housing those who are sworn to her, and others who live in fear. Ma-Ma does not slink her way around or use her womanly wiles; she is fucked up, brutal and efficient.
Hit the jump for more (with spoilers).