Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

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It’s Comic-Con time again and so thousands of people are flocking to San Diego to trade, buy, sell, and collect comics. Oh yeah and I think they do some movie stuff there too. Comic-Con is quickly becoming Hollywood’s newest whore. Now that the studios realize that not only will geeks flock to see a good comic movie, but that they will also pony up for the merchandise, Hollywood is doing it’s best to capitalize on geek dollars. This summer’s Iron Man movie may have been the most exciting event in some geeks’ lives since the invention of the Real Doll. Since Spider-man first hit multiplexes, movie after movie has involved spandex clad men (and occasionally women). Most of these movies have made an incredible amount of money and the biggest may be yet to come. Next year Watchmen will be released.

Watchmen is one of my, and most comic fans, favorite graphic novels of all time. It’s regarded as not only a great graphic novel but also a great work of literature. It’s one of those works of art that after which nothing is ever the same again. I first read Watchmen in high school on the advice of my local comic book dealer (who never steered me wrong). The size intimidated me at first but one I got going I couldn’t stop. I became a true believer in Alan Moore and walked around preaching the virtues of Watchmen to anyone who would listen. It was a book I couldn’t keep to myself and could completely be enjoyed by a non-comic reader. Yeah it’s about costumed heroes but it’s about so much more than that.

A movie version has been in the works for a long time but for one reason or another it never seemed to materialize. Everybody except Alan Moore seem to be excited about it. Each time I’d hear about a new script or a new director I would have such conflicted feelings. The book is so cinematic it practically cries out to be made into a movie but it’s so dense there’s no way all of the nuance could be squeezed into a two hour flick. And seriously what are the odds that Hollywood would make a movie version that would live up to my beloved book. At one point several years ago there was a ray of hope. Paul Greengrass was announced as the new director. I was already a fan of Bourne Supremacy and after seeing Bloody Sunday, I knew he could handle the material. Of course eventually the walls came crashing down when Paramount put the movie into turnaround amid budget concerns and studio politics.

Ozymandias is on the far right.

Now Zach Snyder is helming the film. After making a zillion dollars with his adaption of Frank Miller’s 300, the studio believes he could be the one to do it. Aside from the fervor the MPAA stirred up, I haven’t seen (or read) a lack of confidence on the part of fans. I was being cautiously optimistic. until I saw the cover of Entertainment Weekly which made me extremely depressed. I mean come on! They look ridiculous! Especially Ozymandias, who looks like some young asshole who needs a slap. The article inside restored a little confidence but what has really been making me think it might not suck is the trailer. The only part of it that I didn’t really agree with is where it called Zach Snyder a “visionary” director. I don’t think following source material necessarily makes you a visionary. The rest of it looked so good that even my girlfriend was finally interested in reading the book. I’ve been trying for seven years to do that! I watched it on my computer and thought it was ok but when I saw it on the big screen before The Dark Knight  I thought, “Wow, that might be good.” Ozymandias still looks dumb but the rest of them don’t look to silly once you see them in action. Could Watchmen be the great film it deserves to be? I hope so. Right now I feel the ambivalence of Dr. Manhattan, the pessimism of Rorschach, and the hope of Nite Owl.

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