For many, the belief is that the Watchman is unfilm-able. It’s pointless to try. To be honest, I agreed with the idea that people should give up trying. Or maybe do a one year series on HBO. It’s to nuanced and creative to work as a movie.
Then I saw they brought on Zach Snyder. He showed a skill for making a visually interesting film with 300. Certainly, the story of 300 is not as deep. I also felt Snyder did a good job with the Dawn of the Dead Remake as well. So I got curious.
I saw the costume pics, and I thought the costumes were decent. But it was the preview in front of Dark Knight that took me from unsure to cautiously optimistic. This article from a recent Entertainment Weekly pushes me into the cautiously excited camp.
Some have speculated that it would be cool if the film turned out as a commentary on super hero films, as the original Watchmen did for super hero comics. But many declared that Snyder wasn’t capable of doing so. Yet early on in the article, Snder notes:
”Will Watchmen be the end of superhero movies? Probably not. But it sure will kick them in the gut.”
‘The average movie audience has seen so many superhero movies,” he says. ”And some of this stuff is hard to take seriously. I mean, The Hulk? Come on.” Snyder remembers screening some Watchmen footage for an unnamed studio executive. Afterward, Snyder says, the exec turned to him and said, ”This makes Superman look stupid.”
Snyder seems to be approaching the film from a much smarter place that some in the comic community are willing to give him. It is interesting to note that the movie went the opposite direction of 300, which was primarily green screen. Here, he had sets built, and it appears much of the computer work is surrounding the one character that requires it(Dr. Manhattan). It suggests to me that Snyder works to remain true to a creator’s vision when bringing something to the screen. 300 is a pretty shallow story and more memorable for Miller and Varley’s artwork than how deep the story is. And he focused on bringing the art to life.
Here, he seems dedicated to bringing the themes of Watchmen to life.
”And that made me nervous.” Over many months, and many meetings, Snyder persuaded Warner Bros. to abandon the Greengrass/Hayter script and hew as faithfully as possible to the comic. The key battles: retaining the ’80s milieu, keeping Richard Nixon (Moore did consider using an era-appropriate Ronald Reagan, but worried it would alienate American readers), and preserving the villain-doesn’t-pay-for-his-crimes climax. ”It was clear that Zack felt an intense obligation to the fans and the book,” says Warner Bros. Picture Group president Jeff Robinov. ”There was definitely a conversation about the best way to make it contemporary and relevant to today. Zack felt the best way was to go back to the roots of the novel.” It didn’t hurt Snyder’s case that by then 300 — another R-rated movie based on a hardcore graphic novel — was making a killing at the box office. ”Little by little, we got the studio on board,” says Deborah Snyder, the director’s producer, chief collaborator, and wife. ”300 really helped. It created a level of trust in Zack’s vision.”
I think people are jumping the gun in declaring Snyder can’t pull this off. From what I am seeing, he may be the best man for the job…I say this as someone who is intrigued by the possibilities of, say, an Aronofsky helmed film. Snyder may be cutting his teeth on genre…but he may prove himself capable of what is seen in some quarters as the impossible…a solid Watchmen film. I’m already curious to see the inevitable director’s cut(currently, the film is at three hours-so there will likely be at least a half hour of additional footage).
So call me cautiously excited for the film.