The ‘Watchmen’/’Batman & Robin’ Connection: Smashing Pumpkins Come Full Circle

By Rya Backer

Yesterday, while pretending to listen to music on my headphones, I overheard a voice from my past.

The voice was that of Billy Corgan, lead singer of the disbanded/re-banded/whatever Smashing Pumpkins, and the song was “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning.” You might know its more fist-pumping incarnation “The End Is the Beginning Is the End,” but for the three other people who purchased the soundtrack for the 1997 Joel Schumacher tour-de-force “Batman & Robin,” the slow-as-molasses version of the band’s Grammy-winning hit rang equally as familiar.

I lifted my head only to notice that the song was coming from one of our many monitors, amid flashing violent, fancy and violently fancy animation. I was perplexed — where was Poison Ivy? California’s governor? Batman’s nipples? Then, I went about my day.

A few people in this morning’s news meeting started talking up how a Smashing Pumpkins song was used in the trailer for “Watchmen” — suddenly, I put two and two together, and opened my mouth. And nobody believed me. Yes, everybody: I accept your apologies for not believing me when I spoke about the song’s origin. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

What compelled Zack Snyder, the, um … watchman … behind “Watchmen” to use the track? Was it because there’s that shot in the trailer of a guy (I’m sure he has a name, but seriously, people, the last graphic novel I read involved the name “Jughead”) falling from the sky that vaguely resembles something Batman might do? Is “Watchmen” sort of like watching “Batman & Robin” in slow-motion — much like how listening to “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning” is somewhat of a stretched-out version of the original tune? Here’s what Snyder had to say:

“Smashing Pumpkins we picked for a couple reasons. For one, I felt like in mood, it was correct for what we were trying to do. We were trying to sort of get at the unwashed masses who don’t know anything about ’Watchmen’ and find something provocative that makes you go, ’What is that?’ … And then, also, I felt like the song itself spoke a little to the ’Watchmen’ world. And then on the third hand … it will create controversy a little bit in the fanbase because they’re going to be like, ’Wait, is that going to be in the movie? That ain’t 1985!’ ”

All good reasons, we suppose. But it doesn’t answer the bigger question: Did he have any idea that Corgan wrote the song expressly for that other nocturnal superhero?