Judge Dredd, a ruthless law enforcer who will not yield until justice is served. Batman, a stealthy combatant determined to strike fear into criminals after the tragic death of his parents. Both operate in completely different and effective ways, but what would happen if they were targeting one another? What if The Dark Knight thought Dredd is a villain in need of taking down... and what if Dredd was under the impression Batman is a criminal and the sentence is death? Would Batman's vanishing act take down Dredd or will he end up riddled with bullets? Let's discuss.
Beware, there will be spoilers about Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and Dredd 3D below.== TEASER ==
To keep things simple, let's assume they're in a standard city block completely free of pedestrians. It'll be night time and they'll start at opposite ends of the block. This should be a pretty neutral scenario. After all, throwing down in Mega-City One or Gotham would give either unfair advantages. And just in case you glossed over the feature title, this is using the modern movie versions of both characters. Naturally, this is Batman in his peak physical condition. Using older and damaged Batman would be silly and biased.
Dredd is bringing some major advantages to the table. His standard issue firearm is quite a beast. Aside from spewing generic bullets, we saw first-hand the impressive amount of variety it packs. The weapon can launch an incendiary round that is capable of lighting up an entire section, stun blasts to subdue targets, high explosives, armor piercing rounds and much more. A clear connect with any of these to Wayne is going to be devastating and to top it off, Dredd proved he isn't a shabby shot either. At the conclusion of the first action sequence we see Dredd almost effortlessly defuse a hostage situation... by shooting the villain in the mouth. It's a shame Batman doesn't have kevlar over his mouth.
Even if Batman smacks the weapon out of his hand, Dredd showed he's no slouch in hand-to-hand as well. When another Judge tried to grapple with Dredd, the end result was having his trachea crushed. Ouch. While he's not as good as Wayne in that department, he's not someone that'll be easy to drop. He's a tough fellow and his armor is sure to soak some strikes as well. An armor piercing round ripped through his torso and the man didn't even mutter a word. That's some darn good pain tolerance.
But Dredd is much more than an advanced pistol of destruction equipped by brawn. The man's mind is disputably the most dangerous weapon of them all. If he thinks someone is guilty, he's not going to negotiate. He's not going to falter in the face of overwhelming odds or fear (a key tactic for Batman). He's going to go after his target until justice is served -- and in this case, it means a bullet in Batman.
Yes, Dredd's lack of morals and ability to take down Gotham's hero with a single shot is a rather large advantage, but the real question is if Dredd could even shoot Batman. If having a gun was all it took to overcome him, then I imagine Batman Begins would have been an especially short movie. This isn't to downplay Dredd's talent with a firearm, but instead compliment how insanely talented Bruce Wayne has become with stealth capabilities.
For example, let's reflect on the cargo yard scene in Batman Begins. Big shot criminal Carmine Falcone is under the protection of a fair amount of gunmen. Despite being outnumbered and facing pistols and submachine guns, Batman swoops in and out of the shadows, taking them out one-by-one before they have an opportunity to get a lock on him. Sure, it's logical to assume this fodder isn't nearly as effective as the Judge, but moments like this one make it certainly fair to say Batman has become a master of stealth and hit-and-run tactics. This is absolutely a factor worth taking into account, especially in a traditional city block. Regardless of how the fight goes down, Batman won't be an easy target.
While Dredd demonstrated some ruthless brutality in his tactics, Wayne is disputably the more talented combatant. If he can get close and disarm Dredd, his advantage in technique should eventually be a game changer. While Dredd's firearm brings a lot to the battle, Bruce has a few toys of his own. His grappling gun and cape means he can move in ways Dredd might not expect and further compliments his abilities to vanish into the shadows. Aside from the standard batarangs (one bouncing off of Dredd's helmet would be hilarious), Batman also has smaller batarangs that can render a target unconscious in mere moments, sharp gauntlets on his wrists and of course, smoke pellets.
While Batman definitely has what it takes to bring down Dredd, I think too many factors need to go perfectly in his favor for him to justifiably earn a victory. Gotham's hero needs to properly take advantage of the stealth provided by the environment, close the gap and then take down Dredd swiftly. It's an obstacle he can accomplish, but even if he starts laying into Dredd, there's no guarantee that the Judge won't successfully get off a lucky shot in close range. Batman is going to need at least a combo or two here. Meanwhile, Dredd just needs one clean shot. Batman's motivation to knock Dredd out instead of killing him also means he'll be holding back to some degree if and when it comes down to fisticuffs. This keeps the anti-hero in the game longer and gives him more opportunities to use his powerful pistol against DC's A-lister.
This is of course just taking into account when Batman manages to bring it face-to-face. It's also totally feasible that Dredd blasts Batman apart with his assortment of projectiles before Batman can get close. As for Batman's tranqs, they have the potential to be a huge wildcard, but it's important to note that the target zone on Dredd which is vulnerable to this weapon is very, very limited.
For me, Dredd's pain tolerance, technology and willingness to kill are key here. In the end, I think it's more likely for a battered and bruised Dredd to walk away from a dead Dark Knight.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. He's happy to be alive in a year that has been so great for comic book movies.