So I came across the trailer for the new Judge Dredd movie today and it got me thinking about those comics and how they’ve influenced my writing (the Archons are basically toned down versions of Judges with religious overtones instead of fascist ones). Specifically it made me think of the archetype of a character who is judge, jury and executioner. I’m not just talking about a character who takes the law into their own hands but a character who is the law (sorry).
While it shouldn’t be a surprise that this archetype will show up as villains in dystopian works it’s also surprisingly prevalent to have it with a neutral or even heroic portrayal. Why is that? Well, there is an escapist aspect to it. The idea of a lone individual, morally incorruptible, willing to cut through all the red tape and legal loopholes and dispense pure unadulterated justice. Were such a person to exist many people would be comfortable to have that person watch over them. There is a simple narrative aspect to it as well, it’s convenient. It’s convenient to not have a character have to deal with regulations or paperwork or due process because then the writer doesn’t have to deal with it, and as an added bonus neither does the reader.