Comics on the Big Screen: The Watchmen
Friday, August 1, 2008
The 12 issue series of comics came out in 1986. It was later repackaged as a trade paperback, which helped popularize the idea of the graphic novel. It was one of the first graphic novels to breakthrough to non-comic book readers. University classes across the nation have used it in their curriculum. Time Magazine listed it as one of "the 100 best English-language novels" published since the inception of Time Magazine. It won a Hugo Award. It is written by Alan Moore ( V for Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ). It changed the way a lot of people viewed the superhero story because it's more dark and realistic. The story is about a defunct team of superheroes who are dealing with the murder of one of their own.
The movie has bounced around Hollywood for years. Numerous directors have been attached to the project, including Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky . It seemed like this movie was never going to be made. Zack Snyder directed 300 (coincidentally written by The Spirit's Frank Miller). He used the graphic novel as his storyboards and & his production concept art and stayed as true to the book as he could. Snyder received a phone call after completing 300 from Warner Brothers wanting to know if he'd be interested in directing The Watchmen . He was understandably reluctant. In Friday's panel he said (I paraphrase): & ldquo;Even if I don't do it, I'll still get blamed if it's bad. They'll blame me because I passed."
In 2007, Comic-Con attendees didn't get much other than a poster drawn by Dave Gibbons and the excitement of Zack Snyder's involvement. Shooting hadn't started yet.
This year, we were treated to a number of extended shots from the trailer as well as some new shots. And the entire principal cast was in attendance. They are Malin Akerman ( Harold and Kuma r) as Laurie Juspeczyk / Silk Spectre II, Carla Gugino ( Night at the Museum ) as Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre, Jeffrey Dean Morgan ( Supernatural ) as Edward Blake / The Comedian, Billy Crudup ( Almost Famous ) as Jon Osterman / Dr. Manhattan, Jackie Earle Haley ( The Bad News Bears ) as Walter Kovacs / Rorschach, Patrick Wilson ( Angels in America ) as Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II and Matthew Goode ( Brideshead Revisited ) as Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias.
The Cast of The Watchmen by KPBS, on Flickr
Snyder and his team have made a number of good choices so far. They've assembled a great cast with none of the over-used Hollywood heavies. Snyder decided to not update the storyline as some previous scripts have done. It still takes place in an alternate cold war 1985 where Nixon is still president. Snyder brought in Dave Gibbons, who illustrated the comic to consult on the look of the movie and on the content of the script. The only outstanding questions for me: Can Snyder pull a good performance out of a good actor? Are the script and dialogue good? What did they have to leave out? & I'm watching the clock tick to 03.06.09.