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"Peach Trees, this is Ma-Ma. Somewhere in this block are two Judges. I want them dead. Until I get what I want the block is locked down. All clan, every level, hunt the Judges down. Everyone else, clear the corridors and stay the fuck out of our way until the shooting stops. If I hear of anyone helping the Judges, I will kill them and the next generation of their families. As for the Judges... sit tight, or run. It makes no difference, you're mine."

Madeline Madrigal, aka Ma-Ma is the main antagonist of the 2012 film Dredd, a scarred, psychopathic prostitute-turned-drug kingpin with a trademark for excessive violence.


Starting her life out as a block prostitute in the Sector 9 pleasure district, Madeline Madrigal was first arrested at age 14 on December 4, 2076 by Judge Reich for solicitation. Madeline then went on to have numerous other altercations with the law, serving a total of 23 months in the Iso-Cubes, a total of seven arrests. Growing dissatisfied with her life, Madeline eventually had enough of a life of prostitution and killed her pimp, Lester Grimes. This was a vendetta attack because Grimes brutally murdered her boyfriend Eric after discovering that she intended to leave his business.

Grimes then cut up Madeline's face to warn her not to leave and reaffirm who is in charge. Enraged, Ma-Ma used her instincts to avoid further trouble. She gave Lester some Slo-Mo after offering to give him oral sex, claiming that it would "enhance the experience". She then proceeded to "feminize" Lester by biting off his penis. Since he was on Slo-Mo at the time, his agony was increased while he bled to death. Having suffered a psychotic break and now insane as a result of her traumatic experiences, Madeline took over his business interests, adopting the nickname "Ma-Ma" and founded her own gang, the Ma-Ma Clan. After founding her own gang, she got involved in The Great Block War. During this Block War, she then proceeded to take over the top floor of the Peachtree Block. She and her enforcer Caleb slowly worked their way down, level by level, and wiped out the other three gangs: the Peyote Kings, Red Dragons and The Judged, giving her full control of the block.

Ma-Ma then used Peachtrees as the manufacturing center for a new addictive drug called Slo-Mo, which slows the user's perception of time to 1% of the normal rate. After making a bloody example killing of three interlopers, she attracted the attention of Judge Dredd and the on-assessment rookie Cassandra Anderson. When Kay got busted, she at first felt it wasn't serious because she knew her gang was "overdue for a bust", but she later found out that Kay was taken alive. In order to prevent her lackey Kay from talking in interrogation at the Grand Hall of Justice, she shut down the whole block locking the two judges inside.

Ma-Ma sent her whole gang and even some Corrupt Judges after Dredd and Anderson, but the two survived and worked their way up the block to her. She also had no reservations about resorting to ruthless means such as murdering innocents if it means protecting her own interests. At one point in the film, Ma-Ma has three miniguns mounted atop the balcony in an attempt to kill Dredd, failing and killing dozens of residents in the process. She also blames others for her own drastic actions, simply regarding in advance her atrocity with the miniguns as doing it "messy," because Dredd wouldn't allow her to it do it "clean." Also whilst berating Kay after he returns, having captured Anderson, she flat out tells him he should have gotten killed to prevent himself from talking. Furious about how Anderson has been captured, Dredd hijacks the intercom of Peach Trees and gives a tense, dire warning to anyone who assists her. Dredd claims that he is the law and insults Ma-Ma, calling her merely a common criminal who is under the sentence of death, along with anyone who tries to stop him from carrying out the sentence. Anderson kills Kay and escapes, later helping Dredd kill four corrupt judges who Ma-Ma hired in an attempt to kill Dredd. Anderson and Dredd finally reach the top floor where they obtain the code to Ma-Ma's penthouse from her disloyal computer expert and confront her. Ma-Ma quickly implants a transmitter device on her wrist that is set to her heartbeat while her bodyguards make a final stand. All her final henchmen are shot by the judges and Anderson takes a bullet. Now it is just Ma-Ma and Dredd. She tells Dredd that in the case of her death, the device will detonate a massive amount of explosives she has wired in the top 50 stories, bringing the rest of the skyscraper down and killing all of the residents. She tells him that he can't afford to take the risk.

Dredd shoots her in the stomach anyway and grabs a dying Ma-Ma, holding her against a glass window where she grins mockingly at him, having accepted her fate. Having called her bluff, Dredd reasons that the detonator's signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, beating her at her own game. Dredd tells her that she is sentenced to death for homicide and narcotics distribution, forcibly drugging her with some Slo-Mo, like she would do with her own victims to increase their agony. He then asks her how she pleads and Ma-Ma responds by inhaling the drug, symbolically pleading guilty. He tells her that the defense was noted and throws her through the glass. She plummets down the atrium of the 200-story building and lands headfirst, crushing her head in two and killing her almost instantly.

Known Crimes[]

Due to her sociopathic nature and large capacity for ruthlessness and violence, Ma-Ma is responsible for many acts of excessive violence as well as several flat-out atrocities throughout the film: 

  1. Prostitution and possible perpetrator of several rape crimes through her enforcers: This is implied when Ma-Ma plans to kill Anderson to make it look "like a drug bust gone wrong", she mentions a shot to the head and chest rather than to "torture, rape or skin".
  2. Flaying and Force-feeding drugs to victims: When it is discovered that 3 rogue dealers are selling Sternhammer Block product, she casually orders her henchmen to skin them alive before throwing them from a high balcony into the Peach Trees atrium for dozens of men, women and children who are there at the time to witness. Adding to this, before they are thrown over the balcony they are forcefully dosed with slo-mo in order to make the moments before their deaths to last longer, thus increasing their agony.
  3. Castration of Lester Grimes: When the story of Ma-Ma's origins are revealed in the film, it is told that she bit her pimp's genitals off as payback for disfiguring her face and killing Eric, her only friend.
  4. Eye Gouging of Clan Techie: It is also revealed in this scene that she personally gouged out her techie's eyes with her thumbs as her henchmen pinned him down.
  5. Multiple Homicide: In a reckless attempt to kill Judge Dredd and Rookie Judge Anderson, Ma-Ma and her clan mercilessly slaughter dozens of innocent civilians (including children) as well as destroying their homes using three mounted Vulcan cannon miniguns to carry this out.
  6. Ransom Negotiation: Upon being confronted by Dredd in her private quarters Peach Tree's 200th floor, she activates a wrist device synced to her pulse, which if triggered by a loss of heartbeat would send a detonation signal to a cache of explosives large enough to bring down the entire building. She does this in order to try and prevent Dredd from killing her, if the bombs had actually detonated, the resulting collapse caused by the explosion could have jeopardized the lives of Peach Trees' entire residential population which totaled 75,000 citizens.
  7. Murder of a Judge: During her confrontation with Dredd, a smashed Judge's helmet can be seen in Ma-Ma's trophy cabinet. This implies that she has successfully killed at least one judge in the past and could explain her confidence when facing Dredd. This could possibly have belonged to Judge Reich, the Judge who first arrested her at age 16.
  8. Bribery: Ma-Ma bribes a million credits to corrupt Judges Lex, Chan, Alvarez and Kaplan to dispose off Dredd and Anderson.
  9. Manufacture and Distribution of Narcotics

Personality and traits[]

Ma-Ma in general is chillingly calm and seemingly disinterested in the events around her, making her hard to predict and giving her an frightening presence over those around her. She is not easily shocked or impressed and has a brutal zero tolerance policy towards anyone looking to compete with her stranglehold on the Peachtrees drugs trade. Her trademark being excessive violence, she regards torture, murder and mutilation as simple tools of her trade and will not hesitate to use them liberally to make a point, because of this she is well known and feared with good reason by the entire local population.

Her overwhelming brutality is demonstrated not long after her introduction scene, when she orders one of her lackeys Kay to skin three rogue dealers alive and throw them from the 39th floor balcony down the atrium as a warning to anyone else who might cross her. Not only does she have them skinned alive but she, when suggested by Kay, also has them dosed with her trademark drug: Slo-mo, in order to prolong their suffering before they die. The full extent of Ma-Ma's ruthlessness is evident however when she and her gang resort to devastating an entire floor with three Military grade Gatling guns in an attempt to kill Judge Dredd, in the process dozens of innocent Men, women and children are gunned down without mercy, leaving few survivors. Her callous attitude is brought to an even further extreme when she threatens to level the entire Peachtrees building via strategically planted explosives linked to a detonation device attached to her wrist, the detonator was synched to her heartbeat and according to her would detonate in the event of her death once activated. If the bombs had actually exploded the resulting destruction would have caused the deaths of 75,000 citizens.

In general, her cold disregard for human life, lack of personal responsibility and reputation for excessive brutality mark her as someone with highly psychopathic traits. She also shows sadistic traits with her torture and intimidation of the clan techie. At one point in the film, she leans over him holding a knife to his bare stomach in order to motivate him, at one point during the film it is also revealed that Ma-Ma personally gouged the boy's eyes out with her thumbs before having them replaced with cybernetics. It is not explained why exactly she did this, but it gives a strong impression of just how deep her capacity for cruelty is.

Ma-Ma was also heavily addicted to her own product as well as other drugs with her personal quarters being littered with pills and vials, the damage her addictions have caused may in part be responsible for her violent personality in addition to her traumatic past. Ma-Ma's eyes are clearly reddened by narcotics addiction.

As ruthless as she is with the lives of others she seems to hold little regard for her own life, her fatalism is shown when being confronted by Dredd where she calmly remarks that getting busted "goes with the territory." Even when Dredd sentences her to death and is about to throw her from the 200th floor window, she simply inhales the slo-mo he forces on her and stares blankly before he sends her to her death, showing no fear in anticipation of her fate.

In a way, her and Judge Dredd are almost equals. Both have an intense hatred of the human race and have little regard for their own lives, but the way they live is completely different. Judge Dredd has lost faith in humanity but thinks that it is worth fighting for so he dedicates his life to dispatching justice and trying to prevent society from collapsing. Ma-Ma, on the other hand, has such a little regard for human life that she is willing to kill hundreds of innocent civilians for her own personal gain.

Despite her indifferent brutality during the events of the film, she did display a more human side in her prequel story with her showing visible affection for her chemist friend Eric, who attempted to help her achieve a better life before he was tortured and murdered by her possessive pimp, Lester Grimes, an event that caused Madeline significant emotional trauma. This shows that at some point she was capable of caring for other human beings, despite her later apathy towards human life in the events of the film. The trauma of losing the only person who cared for her this way, combined with the general bleakness of her situation caused her to conclude that the only way to succeed in a life like her own is to be brutal and unforgiving. In this sense she is arguably a tragic product of her environment. However in a way her troubled past makes many of her crimes even more atrocious given that the majority of her victims are essentially in the same place as she once was.

For the role, Headey wore fake scars, prosthetic teeth, spoke with an American accent and used fake tattoos, although she did use a few of her own as Ma-Ma's tattoo work.

Behind the scenes[]

Despite a plethora of antagonists from the original comic strip, Ma-Ma was created for the film and got her own origin comic to accompany the release. A former prostitute turned drug lord and criminal kingpin who is the sole supplier of Slo-Mo, a new and addictive drug. Lena Headey's performance was inspired by punk-rock singer Patti Smith. Reich described the character as someone who does "not care at all about what anybody thinks or feels and she will do, and behave, as she wants." Originally before Headey's casting, Ma-Ma was intended to portrayed as a heavily made-up, elderly, obese woman, however when she joined the cast the character was re-imagined into a scarred, middle aged woman with a cold, cruel personality. Her appearance is inspired by punk rocker Patti Smith. A description into the nature of Ma-Ma's character given by Lena Headey goes as follows:

The challenge of her is you’re dealing with someone who’s pretty much dead – apart from physically. She fears nothing, she embraces the thought of death, and I thought she’d be an interesting character to play."

"She's a prostitute who then kills her pimp and takes over his drug-running business," Headey told the L.A. Times.

She continued, "I think of her like an old great white shark who is just waiting for someone bigger and stronger to show up and kill her. She's ready for it. In fact, she can't wait for it to happen. And yet no one can get the job done. She's an addict, so she's dead in that way, but that last knock just hasn't come. This big, fat, scarred shark moving through the sea and everyone flees and she's like, 'Will someone just have the balls to do it? Please?'"


  • Her name can be seen written on a wall in the Nadia storyline (Progs 1743-1749), published in 2011.


Dredd Characters
Main Characters Judge Dredd - Judge Cassandra Anderson
Ma-Ma Clan Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal - Kay - Caleb - Big Joe - Japhet - Clan Techie
Corrupt Judges Judge Lex - Judge Chan - Judge Alvarez - Judge Kaplan
Other characters TJ - Cathy - Ethan Zwirner - Rosa - Judge Volt - Judge Guthrie - Amos - Freel - Chief Judge - Lester Grimes - Eric