Comic-con has been the perfect starting point for the marketing machine behind the upcoming film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ genre-shattering, classic graphic novel, Watchmen, to start turning its gears. Since the Con kicked-off and that breathtaking teaser trailer premiered before The Dark Knight, the buzz surrounding Watchmen has gone from a few bees in the bush, to an eager swarm of anticipation.
Always ready to serve the will of the people, we here at Screen Rant thought it might be nice to pool a lot of the info about the Watchmen flick together into a nice focus piece – a Rorschach blot that you can look at and determine for yourself how this film is shaping up.
Well, as I’m sure Vic can personally attest, word around the campfire is that the footage that premiered during the Watchmen panel at Comic-Con only further evidences the fact that director Zack Snyder (300) has done right by fanboys and girls everywhere by staying true to the essence of what made Watchmen the graphic novel such a profound, genre-bending masterpiece back in 1986. Despite several different scripts floating around Hollywood for the last decade or so, which tried to alter the setting and/or tone of Moore and Gibbons’ story, Snyder has boldly chosen NOT to update the Watchmen to modern times, or change the tone to a more traditional, campy, comic book flick. This film will be all adult, and rated so.
For those not in the know, Watchmen is set in an alternate 1980’s universe in a U.S. of A where super-heroes have been outlawed by government mandate; a near omnipotent blue physicist has helped America win both the Vietnam and Cold Wars; and, best of all, President Richard Nixon has appointed himself perma-President. (Who knew that the 80’s could even get any more ‘alternate?’)
In the midst of this mad world, only a few of the former heroes are still around, living mundane lives, some getting fatter and older by the day (Patrick Wilson/Nite Owl); some working in secret as government operatives (Jeffery Dean Morgan/The Comedian, Malin Ackerman/Silk Specter II and Billy Crudup/Doctor Manhattan); living in the public eye as celebrities (Matthew Goode/Ozymandias); or, in the case of enigmatic night-prowler Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley), single-handedly carrying on the fight against injustice while evading the law.
The plot thickens when The Comedian is brutally murdered, exposing a plot by an unseen mastermind that could very well lead the world to the brink of destruction – unless the retired league of heroes can pull themselves, and each other, together in time to stop Armageddon.
Those familiar with the graphic novel know how dense a work it truly is. In addition to the central murder mystery/Armageddon plot, which could easily fill the two-hour block of a standard film, Watchmen has multiple side-stories woven into it, including individual back stories for each of its heroes; a comic book pirates yarn that echoes the themes and happenings of the main story; a Randian subplot about a mysterious island where the world’s greatest artists are hiding out; and a scrap-book style collection of newspaper clippings, advertisements, magazine interviews and even excerpts from the biography of one retired hero, which help to flesh out the “real-world” conception of how we as a society would view and judge superheroes if they actually existed. That’s a lot of info to pack into one movie.
Yet Snyder has remained vigilant that he will be able to get the lion’s share of the story (and side-stories) all into the film experience, one way or another. (Except for that over-the-top climax from the original graphic novel. That kind of thing can only happen in comics.)
And, of course, the marketing team over at Warner Bros. is only too happy to come up with some creatively $avvy ways to help expand the Watchmen brand. Poor Alan Moore.
According to the guys at Slash Film, during Entertainment Weekly‘s “Visionaries” panel at Comic-Con, Snyder speculated that the DVD release of Watchmen would likely feature a cut of the film that followed the original graphic novel to the ‘T’, breaking from the main story at points to transition into auxiliary fare such as the aforementioned “Black Freighter” comic book, which won’t be included in the theatrical release, but will get its own release as a sort of tie-in piece to the film, a la Batman: Gotham Knights. However, rumor is that the current cut of Watchmen is already running three hours long, (Warner Bros. is pushing for a leaner, 2.5 hour cut,) so this rumored extended cut could end up with a running time of five hours or more!
I know I’m that loyal a Watchmen fan (dork alert!), but really, is anybody else?
Fans of the Watchmen saga have had their faces scrunched up in worry over the high-crap potential of the recently announced Watchmen video game that will tie in with the movie’s release. One glimmer of hope on this subject appeared when director Zack Snyder responded to a question about the game pitched to him by a Comic-Con fan with this answer:
“We had quite a back and fourth about that. They sent me a script for it. This is the dorkiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s not cool at all. And it had nothing to do with Watchmen. We tried to rewrite it. We tried to come up with an idea where you like kill Woodward and Bernstein. We tried to go down those kind of routes and do something more subversive. A dialogue needs to be established between filmmakers and game producers. It’s not marketing; it can’t be an afterthought.”
Good man, Zack. For those confused about that Woodward and Bernstein reference: in the Watchmen universe Nixon was never impeached over the Watergate scandal because reporters Woodward and Bernstein never got to expose the historic scandal. They were “silenced” by government super-operative The Comedian, as was JFK, allowing Nixon to seize power unopposed. Of course these moments weren’t shown in the graphic novel, just referenced through dialogue. So Snyder’s suggestion that the video game could allow players to be immersed in unexplored terrain from the Watchmen universe is both intriguing and exciting.
Let’s just hope the game makers (and Warner Bros.) get their heads out of their digitized asses long enough to take Snyder’s suggestion. The Watchmen universe is a richly textured one; it will keep gamers happy for days on end-if done right.
Snyder to Helm The Dark Knight Returns???
One of the great things about Comic Con is the way that it just brings people together. Take for instance this answer Zack Snyder gave during the Watchmen panel at Comic-Con, when asked by a fan how he felt about the more adult tone of comic book films like Watchmen or The Dark Knight:
“There are a lot of other graphic novels out there, but I would love to see Frank Miller’s Dark Knight made into a movie, but that’s just me.”
Of course he is referring to my other favorite graphic novel, Frank Miller’s 1986 ground breaker, The Dark Knight Returns, set in a future where superheroes have all been forced to retire or work in secret; that is until a 60 yr old Bruce Wayne re-dons the Bat-suit to bring order back to a Gotham City overrun by gangs, criminals and violence, while the nation debates whether his return is an act of grace, or disaster.
Later in the day, during Entertainment Weekly’s “Visionaries” panel Frank Miller himself had this to say in response to Snyder:
“You can do it anytime you want to Zack.”
Wow. Snyder responded by saying he was making a note of Frank’s comment… but seriously, wow. Talk about an endorsement.
Many good things being heard about Watchmen movie. Zack Snyder will prove if he can truly bring the godfather of graphic novels to big screen and still match the level of movie like The Dark Knight.
The video game should absolutely tie-in with movie; I like Snyder’s idea about game covering things only hinted or referenced in original graphic novel. Fresh approach. Provides good back story.
As for film: I won’t really feel satisfied or ready to judge final product until I’ve seen the five-hour director’s cut, start to finish. That’s just me. But, if Snyder does well enough with Watchmen, why NOT give him crack at The Dark Knight Returns? (If what I’ve seen of The Spirit footage is any indication, Snyder would do much better with it than Miller himself would.)
Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns graphic novels released in 1986. Two of best in genre. Both movies done by same director? Coincidence or deeper pattern at work? Hurm. Bears further investigation later.
Watchmen slated for March 6, 2009 release.
What do YOU see in this Rorschach blot?
Source: Slash Film