The Watchmen

Director Zack Snyder gives us a first look at next year’s anticipated superhero flick.

Director Zack Snyder gives us a first look at next year’s anticipated superhero flick.

Fans of Alan Moore’s dark superhero comic book, The Watchmen have been waiting years for a big screen adaptation. Scripts were written – directors like Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass were bandied around but somehow the project never seemed to be able to get off the ground… Then along came Zack Snyder… unashamedly a comic book geek, Snyder (of 300 and Dawn of the Dead fame) was a longtime fan of Alan Moore’s graphic novel so naturally when Hollywood came a knocking with the project – Snyder answered the door…

That was a few years ago now, and Snyder admits the initial meeting with the studio’s honchos had left him feeling a little alarmed…

Speaking at a first look screening of excerpts from The Watchmen, Snyder admits: “Given the scale I thought it would be difficult to photograph. I thought about Dark Knight as a movie but Watchmen – I thought no way. Plus I don’t want geeks to kill me. They’re gonna kill me anyway cause I’m raping Frank Miller, I’m murdering George Romero – and now The Watchmen… Maybe I’ll do the Bible – it has less ravenous fans,” he laughs.

“But I had the meeting anyway and at first they were all – ‘the war on terror – it would be awesome. We could make it modern day… it’d be super cool do you agree?’

“I said ‘Yeah sounds great, perfect – war on terror – people love that’. And I walked out of the meeting totally depressed ’cause I knew that would be the movie that they would make.”

“Watchmen is a character movie in a lot of ways about misfits that are superheroes.”

Snyder understood the studios point of view – to them Watchmen was just “a cute comic book”. However to Snyder it was something altogether different… “I decided ‘OK maybe I will make a run at it…” He wrote a draft of the screenplay – which, funnily enough had “no war on terror” but before handing the script into the studio he gave them a conference call to talk them around on a few points – including the importance of keeping President Richard Nixon in the script. The studio was lukewarm about the whole idea – until Snyder’s epic CGI flick 300 came out… He laughingly recalls: ‘Then they were like ‘Richard Nixon sounds cool – that other stuff sounds great…”

Eventually Snyder turned in a script that he was happy with – remaining as faithful to the comic as possible – but still there had to be some trade-offs.

“All the things they had issues with, I knew they would” commented Snyder. He paraphrases; “‘Do we really need to go to Mars?Do we really need to see the whole of Comedian’s funeral? The thing with Watchmen is the story’s compelling – superheroes are being killed and for the studios – that’s the movie…

“But the struggle was [getting the studio to see] Watchmen is a character movie in a lot of ways about misfits that are superheroes. Alan created comic book that wasn’t a parody. They aren’t bumbling around [with their powers] instead what they aren’t good at, is life….”

The Watchmen opens at cinemas in March 2009.

Get behind the scenes action on The Watchmen -check out the webisodes.