This blog has turned into all Dredd all the time. When I get into something, I go hard. Sorry not sorry, etc. But seriously, I need to talk about Cassandra Anderson for a minute. Movie Anderson, not comic book Anderson because I’m not quite there yet.

Cassandra Anderson is one of those rare gems: a believable female action hero. I love her. And all the flailing I’m doing over her just proves how fucking thirsty I am for this kind of character. She is both flawed and capable, scared and brave; she learns, she grows. She wears the same damn clothes as her male counterpart. No cleavage, no boob cups. 

Dredd is a sneaky movie. It wants you to think it belongs to the eponymous character, but it’s actually Anderson’s movie. Judge Dredd is there to facilitate her arc from unsure rookie to confident Judge. My one quibble would be that he gets the final showdown with Ma-Ma, who by the way, is a fantastic female villain. 

I could’ve done without the rape threats. When Anderson has to separate from Dredd and take their prisoner with her, Dredd acknowledges the possibility with a curt “You might not want to be taken alive.” An acknowledgement that rape is a possibility, and yeah, there’s some truth to that. We’re treated to some lurid thoughts and taunting from the prisoner that Anderson handles well.

I crave action movies that don’t shove this kind of thing in my face, but if you must, at least handle it as well as this movie did.

I watched Dredd the first time through with unease at where it was taking the bad guy’s disgusting thoughts. But Anderson never loses her agency; she stays in control, or quickly regains control after she’s taken prisoner by Ma-ma’s gangsters. Dredd doesn’t come crashing in to save her; she uses her intelligence, bides her time, and takes down the bad guy with more than a little smug satisfaction. She uses his own arrogance against him when he takes her gun, and then she literally rescues herself with both hands tied behind her back.

One of my favorite little bits comes when Anderson crosses paths with a corrupt Judge — a female Judge small in stature like Anderson but with her face obscured by a helmet. In any other action movie this would be the character’s moment of doubt; Anderson would hesitate upon seeing all the markings of an ally. Instead, Anderson uses her psychic abilities to see the fellow Judge is actually an enemy and shoots her dead without hesitation.

And then the best part: she rescues Dredd. His back is to the wall, he’s out of ammo and held at gunpoint by another corrupt Judge. And BOOM. She shoots the Judge in the back mid villain monologue. I like to think Dredd’s expression under his helmet was one of gratitude and awe. 

Anderson is inexplicably injured and unconscious during Dredd’s final showdown with Ma-ma, and that’s my only disappointment. After all the awesome, she doesn’t get to participate in that.

Still, I’m willing to let it slide because what we get is a female rookie who’s just so promising and capable despite failing aptitude tests that she’s given a chance. And when she technically fails, Dredd gives her a pass anyway based on her abilities in the field. That kind of special treatment is usually reserved for promising young men in fiction. It’s pretty cool to see a girl get it.

I want a comic book movie with a great female villain

I want a movie with a female hero who doesn’t need to be rescued by her male counterpart

I want a comic book movie where the female hero’s costume isn’t somehow made to be more feminine or sexual

I want a movie where-