Watchmen is one of my favorite graphic novels, and I was excited when Zack Snyder, the director of 300 and the Dawn of the Dead remake, decided to bring it to the screen. As much as Alan Moore and his army of nerd fans hate all his adaptations, I think this one has a chance. Here’s the Official Site, with large photos of the costumes just released.
Snyder is using the comic book as storyboards, and so far every time the Comic Book Guy pipes up and whines about some “integral element” that won’t translate to film, it’s been swatted down. The biggest has been the subplot of The Black Freighter, which is meant to show that comic books are no longer about superheroes, and also foreshadow the sinister goings-on. It’s been said that an entire animated film is being made of that story, and will be included as an extra on the DVD, with the Captain being voiced by Gerard Butler.
That being said, the costumes are not perfect. The Comedian looks great; Some complain about Ozymandias looking too much like Schumacher-era Batman with the bat-nipples, but he’s The Perfect Man and to convey that in a movie, he has to look like every cookie-cutter boiled-chicken and broccoli eating actor out there. Rorschach is spot-on, and hopefully his dark tale will be left unchanged.
The big complaints from the nerdhole I frequent (Something Awful Forums) seems to be about the Night Owl not being the fat middle-aged nerd he’s supposed to be. For one, the costume may be his younger incarnation. And secondly, look closely at the picture. He’s not ripped. Got biceps, and he seems a little paunchy, by Hollywood standards. He’s not going to be played by Sean Astin and hunt taters in his owl blimp.
Yes, he does look like the X-Men costumes and the Schumacher fetishistic bat suit. He was always depicted as somewhat fey, and I think the suit projects that sort of Greek worship of the human body. The original costume was sort of Alexander the Great, and I don’t think it would translate well with audiences.
Below is a quick pic of the original characters, including Dr. Manhattan, who hasn’t been shown yet. The fan nightmare is that he is being played by Keanu Reeves, and I whoally agree with their reservations. Lately I’ve liked Keanu in his rare comedic roles as in Thumbsucker more than his gravelly chain-smoker’s monotone, as in the mediocre Constantine (Though admittedly, that movie was painful because of Shia LeDouche more than anything else).
I love the comic, but let’s face it, the best we’re going to get is the story seen through the lens of today; It’s extremely rare that a movie can capture the wonder we got upon first reading a great story. I myself read it after the Cold War was over, so my enjoyment is different from someone who read it serially. Even the best adaptations make changes. One of my all-time favorite novels and movies is The Maltese Falcon, which introduced Bogart as Sam Spade. The first line of the novel describes him as a blond, blue-eyed Satan. Even if you threw a bottle of bleach at Bogey, he’d never match the image those words conjure in your imagination. However, the script is practically the novel word for word, without overlooking the sleazier aspects. The movie had been made twice beforehand, and those lackluster versions are available on the new 3-disc collector’s edition.
Maybe Zack Snyder will get this right the first time. I’m ready to give him a chance, no matter what Alan Moore thinks. I respect the author’s unease after the abortion that was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the changes made to the mediocre V for Vendetta. However he made a very good (though thematically different) remake of the classic Dawn of the Dead, and 300 was exactly what the comic was, a teenager’s version of Thermopylae. It didn’t uplift the material but it didn’t piss on it either, which is the best we can hope for. So far, things are looking for the better.