‘Watchmen’ Director Reveals Key Differences Between Graphic Novel, Film

Zack Snyder walks us through adjustments he made to bring 'unfilmable' comic to the big screen.

BEVERLY HILLS, California — Imagine filming “Harry Potter,” but having no time for the Sorting Hat. Putting “The Giving Tree” on celluloid, but having to change the ending.

Those are the types of quandaries director [movieperson id=”329963″]Zack Snyder[/movieperson] navigated while adapting [movie id=”302856″]”Watchmen,”[/movie] the beloved graphic novel deemed “unfilmable” by many — including Alan Moore, its creator.

Impressively, the “300” filmmaker has crammed an endless amount of sacred information into the fiercely faithful movie that hits theaters March 6. At our recent “Spoilers” taping, Snyder discussed the ending that he had to tweak for the sake of length. Below, he discusses nine other spoiler-heavy (you’ve been warned!) additions/subtractions that bridged the gap between the splash page and the screen:

Nite Owl Watches Rorschach Become a Blot
Following their confrontation with Ozymandias, Rorschach is blown to bits by Manhattan. In the novel, Nite Owl misses the kill because he’s with Silk Spectre. In the film, Dan Dreiberg watches helplessly as his old partner is killed. “I just felt that I needed a moment at the end,” Snyder explained. “That relationship between Rorschach and Nite Owl is a sweet relationship that we establish in the movie. We get a glimpse of what their partnership was like. … I thought it was nice [for Dan] to see Rorschach die, and also it motivates him to come back in [to confront Adrian] and be mad. You think, for a second, maybe, ’Whoa, this is going to be a superhero movie!’ But he has no chance against Adrian.”

Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
In the novel, young Laurie has a touching flashback in which she drops a snow globe. And although the scene isn’t in “Watchmen,” Snyder revealed that the globe is. “In that title sequence, when you peek past the doorway … you can see little Laurie walking down the hallway to her mother and her stepfather fighting at the end of the hall,” Snyder said. “On top of the TV, we built a snow globe that’s got the snow, and we actually shook it [before cameras rolled] so fans could see it.”

A Short Stroll to Ozymandias’ Crib
In the novel, Nite Owl and Rorschach crash their ship in Antarctica, then ride Segway-like hovercrafts over several freezing miles to Adrian Veidt’s lair. In the movie, they walk a few hundred feet. “It’s because I like that shot where you can see the Owl Ship, and you can pull back and see Karnak in the foreground,” Snyder said of the first time we see Ozymandias’ enormous fortress of solitude. “I wanted to have geography, for the audience to understand the distances. And also, when they approach Karnak, you can [now] see it as you approach. [Otherwise], it would be difficult for them to fly so far away. It would be some bad flying by the end.”

A Hairy Interview?
A bona fide superhero celebrity, Dr. Manhattan goes on a news talk show during a key “Watchmen” moment. In Moore’s novel, the interviewer is a generic talking head. In the movie — is that Ted Koppel? “It is Ted Koppel,” Snyder confirmed. “I do that a lot in the movie. I try to drill down on pop culture and make you have a reference to your own world.”

Kill the Media
Following the revelations during his interview, a frenzied Dr. Manhattan is surrounded by reporters screaming questions. In the novel, he makes them all vanish and reappear outside. In the movie, he makes himself vanish and reappear on Mars. “In the director’s cut , he beams them all out,” Zack said. “That was just a little time-saving device to move us along in the [story] of Manhattan.” But wait, it gets cooler: “In the director’s cut, you don’t know what he did with those people,” Snyder grinned wickedly, implying that Manhattan may have killed the reporters. “You don’t see them in the parking lot. We don’t PG-13 them; you just don’t know where they went.”

Janey’s Got a Wig
In Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Dr. Manhattan’s interview goes off track as reporters reveal that he might be giving his loved ones cancer. In the movie, his former lover Janey Slater actually shows up at the TV studio and dramatically takes off her wig, revealing that she’s dying. “I just needed and wanted that to be tied back to Janey emotionally and felt that the reporters weren’t enough,” Zack said of the addition. “There’s an interview with her [in the graphic novel], and she reveals a lot of the stuff that she reveals in that speech to him. We took it from that moment; I took all of those ideas and had her confront Manhattan with them instead.”

In Moore’s novel, Rorschach’s intense meetings with Cosby-like shrink Dr. Malcolm Long send the good doctor down his own dark, downward spiral. In Snyder’s film, the subplot is nonexistent. “That’s very indulgent. We didn’t quite go that far, but I would have loved to,” he said of Dr. Malcolm’s scenes at home.

Drinks Are on the Comedian
In the novel, a tense flashback has Laurie confronting Edward Blake and throwing a drink in his face. In the movie, the scene doesn’t exist. “Yeah, I didn’t put that scene in. I felt that I could only have one Comedian/Laurie flashback,” Snyder explained. “So I stayed with the one outside the Watchmen headquarters.”

Screeching to a Halt
In both the novel and film, Archie is the vehicle of choice for breaking Rorschach out of prison, but the movie version doesn’t give us the ear-piercing Screechers that disable the guards and convicts. “The Owl Ship does have Screechers; you don’t hear them,” Snyder said. “But in the director’s cut, when they are escaping from prison, there’s a scene when they are up on the rooftop and Dan says, ’I had to turn the Screechers off, so we’re going to be drawing fire soon!’ So there’s a little reference.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Watchmen.”

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.