There's a lot of excitement and heat coming off of the Comic-Con presentation for Zack Snyder's, Watchmen. And as everyone else sits around excited that it is finally, really happening, I get to once again play cynic as I sit here quaking in fear over what Snyder plans on doing to it. Watchmen has become the holy grail of comic book movies. It's serious, adult and considered one of, if not the, greatest limited series of all time. Completely self-contained, The Watchmen gave us a peek into what superheroes might actually be like when dropped into the real world.
This weekend Snyder announced several casting choices as well as answered quite a few questions, all of which seemed to confirm my worst fears. Our hopes for a great Watchmen adaptation are doomed. Why? For that answer we must turn to Snyder's short history and the statements he made at the Comic-Con panel.
Here's a guy who has directed exactly two films, both adaptations, neither of which were remotely faithful to their original material. With 300, Snyder perfected adapting the look of the comic, but completely failed to adapt the soul, characters or even entire plot arcs from the short, simple story. In fact he cut the entire journey arc of one character to replace it with some completely invented political intrigue rape story line involving Leonidas' wife (a character who appears in exactly one frame of the comic book).
What does this have to do with Watchmen? Well, it shows a clear contempt for the story he's adapting in lieu of making it look right. It's something akin to making sure Spider-Man's outfit look exactly like it does from the comics, except that Spider-Man lives with his Uncle Larry from Tulsa instead of Aunt May.
And everything Snyder said this weekend seems to confirm that this trend of eschewing story elements for the look will continue. First and foremost he threw out the latest and best received scripts for it so he and his wife could write their own. Then, when asked questions about what he's doing, everything went back to the look. Everything is about the actors looking right and the shot structure being like that of the comics and the setting being 1985 (when the comic was both set and released). When asked about important story elements he talked about trying to fit them in; but he hammered again and again the look, the look, the look. Just like all of his early talk about 300.
Snyder dodged a bullet on 300. While a well-known comic, it didn't have a hard-core devoted fanbase ready to be offended at the slightest change. He might learn a hard lesson with Watchmen. The moment, the very second in fact, that any of his changes leak out, all hell is going to break loose in the fanbase. If his adaptation is anything like it is beginning to sound or at all like 300, he's in for a world of internet hurt.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.