One of the most widely respected comic books of all time may be getting a second shot at a movie treatment, this time in animated form. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen tells a dark and gritty tale of superheroism gone wrong when a mostly-retired group of costumed vigilantes - who were once loved public figures - become assassination targets and gradually uncover a conspiracy that threatens far more lives than just those of their former colleagues.
In 2009, Zack Snyder took a stab at adapting Watchmen in a live action format and the reaction from fans of the original comic was mixed. The movie performed respectably at the box office and many praised Snyder's bold take on the superhero genre that didn't shy away from the comic book's mature themes. Others, however, felt that the adaptation took too many liberties with the source material - particularly the conclusion - and claimed that Moore and Gibbons' work simply wasn't something that translated well into live-action.
Although that claim certainly has merit, it appears Warner Bros. may be willing to take another shot at a movie version of Watchmen, albeit this time in animated form. According to FilmBuffOnline, the studio is looking to release a string of mature, animated, straight-to-home-media titles based on a variety of DC publications. The report cites a recent consumer survey carried out by Warner Bros. which asked participants for their reaction to a potential R-Rated, animated Watchmen movie and then asked for the medium they would choose to purchase it.
Clearly, the news is not concrete at this stage but it certainly appears that Warner Bros. are at least heavily entertaining the possibility of such a move - particularly if feedback to the survey in question was positive. Furthermore, if the studio are looking into creating a catalogue of more mature superhero material for DVD, Blu-ray and Digital release, Watchmen would arguably be the prime contender. Fans have already seen Warner Bros. and DC produce similar R-Rated, feature-length animated films recently with titles such as Batman: The Killing Joke, so it would perhaps not be a huge surprise if the company was looking to expand their repertoire.
An animated Watchmen adaptation could be the perfect antidote for fans who claim the comic books could never achieve success in a live-action medium. The move would also likely mean that a more authentic approach could be taken and an animated movie would certainly allow for the comic's original ending - involving a huge squid, we kid you not - to be utilized. As long as a strong creative team and voice cast are attached - and possibly even Moore himself in some capacity - then this could be a very exciting project for both fans of the Watchmen comic and of the 2009 movie.
With that said, there is certainly an argument to be made that after receiving mixed reviews in its last film outing, the legacy of Watchmen should be left well alone. The Snyder version is currently less than ten years old and perhaps another interpretation - even if it is animated - would be better received if it were released in a few years time, when the memories of the first attempt (and Dr. Manhattan's genitals) have well and truly faded.
More news on the potential animated Watchmen movie when we get it.