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Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?
February 23, 2007 6:03 AM   Subscribe

"I think that the appetite for me is to make a movie that feels more like Taxi Driver than like Fantastic Four."
Zack Snyder talks about his upcoming Watchmen adaptation, which may start filming this summer.
But some fans couldn't wait: 1, 2, 3 (youtube)
posted by empath (109 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
(the 1 link is particularly good, imo)
posted by empath at 6:11 AM on February 23, 2007


I heard Moore wasn't too happy with either LXG[1] or V[2], so is there any word on how happy he is right now[3]?

[1] I found the movie to be less awesome than the book, mostly because of the "Americanizations" of making a man in charge instead of a woman, including Mark Twain (or whoever that forgettable guy was) and so forth. Still, pretty true to the steampunk concept and had a great atmosphere.

[2] I found the movie to be way, way more awesome than the book because the book was a confused mess (IMO). Multiple indistinguishable characters, drug-induced stupor scenes, etc. Also Evey's transformation was much less believable.

[3] Despite this lengthy comment, I'm not at all well-connected or informed to/on the comics scene. Maybe Moore is perpetually unhappy so this question is moot.
posted by DU at 6:14 AM on February 23, 2007


He has washed his hands of any and all movie adaptations of his work and refuses to take money for them, all the money is going to the artists.
posted by empath at 6:16 AM on February 23, 2007


Pedantic: It's "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes."

Moore will hate any and all movies made out of his work. He doesn't like it or approve of them. Still, the movie of V was decent (which I say as someone who considers Moore to be the single best comic book author of all time), and it sounds like this guy won't completely butcher Watchmen (1985 setting and all that). I think the single biggest integrity test will be whether or not they're bold enough to have Dr. Manhattan spend the entire movie (outside of two or three flashback sequences) in the nude, hairless.
posted by graymouser at 6:18 AM on February 23, 2007


Watchmen as a movie will never work. The source material is too dense, the dialogue too nuanced, and kids today have no clue what growing up with fears of nuclear annihilation was like, or know what the USSR was, in relation to the US.

With major changes, someone like Kubrick might have had a hope in translating it to the big screen, but Snyder (while entertaining) is no Kubrick.

Better to leave it as a comic book, reputation untarnished, IMHO.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:18 AM on February 23, 2007


That's good, because FF was a self-consciously stank-@ss PG-13 'family movie'.

Snarkiness about 'gritty' comics aside (Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, anything else by Frank Miller), 'Watchmen' is a story that needs to be told in the hard 'R' territory, if only for spousal abuse and adult themes.

I'll go read the articles, now...
posted by vhsiv at 6:20 AM on February 23, 2007


I had resigned myself to the idea of the story being 'updated' to the present day. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that he seems to be dedicated to 'filming the book'.
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on February 23, 2007


kids today have no clue

I seems to not be aiming for kids, but adults.
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on February 23, 2007


uh-- I = He
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on February 23, 2007


..kids today have no clue what growing up with fears of nuclear annihilation was like..

Count me as a non-kid who knew what that was like and still didn't really "get" Watchmen (though I did enjoy it). Maybe I should re-read it. Or I could just wait for the movie.
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on February 23, 2007


DU: Click the Watchmen link in my post. It explains a LOT of what was going on in the book, and most of the references.
posted by empath at 6:25 AM on February 23, 2007


kids today have no clue what growing up with fears of nuclear annihilation was like, or know what the USSR was, in relation to the US.

Nah, just have Dakota Fanning in the thing, asking her Pa, "Is it the terr'ists?". And hope that the director misses the point, completely, again. 9/11 lobotomized an entire generation.
posted by vhsiv at 6:25 AM on February 23, 2007


I think this is going to be one of those situations where we, the fans, wouldn't be happy even if we were hung with a brand new rope.
posted by willmize at 6:25 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh sure, with URLs you can explain anything even remotely interesting
posted by DU at 6:26 AM on February 23, 2007


While it's cool to hear that the folks behind the movie version are trying to convince the studio that it shouldn't be Fantastic Four, they're flawed from the get-go.

Watchmen. should. not. be. a. movie.

Now, I'm not taking the more extreme Moore take (I just don't have as many hours logged in my mystic cave to reach the same conclusions) that says it shouldn't be made for screen at all, just that it's not a good candidate for a 120-minute-ish big screen comic book movie. It's just too long, too deep. 300 takes about 45 minutes (if that) to read, so there's plenty of time for the cool visuals, nasty fights, and so on in the movie version without cutting out any story. 12 issues of a pretty dense comic, though? Half that stuff (at least!) will be on the cutting room floor before the first scene is ever filmed.

If Watchmen is to be adapted, it really needs to be an HBO mini-series. I mean, they're working on Preacher and A Song of Ice and Fire, so they're looking to court the geek market, so why not Watchmen?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:27 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh sweet Jebus, panel by panel?
posted by DU at 6:28 AM on February 23, 2007


He seems to not be aiming for kids, but adults.

Films that are rated R have a much smaller audience, and given the subject material, an even smaller audience.

I have to think that the rating and audience demographic would raise questions in the minds of a room full of studio execs.

I guess we'll see how 300 does, as far as how much liberty will be given to Snyder to film it the way he wants. I wish him luck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:29 AM on February 23, 2007


Kids today shouldn't be seeing a watchmen movie, either way. If this is a movie made for kids, it will be terrible. It doesn't seem to be, and that will make it a hard sell. It's tremendously successful among comic book fans, but that's not enough people to guarantee the kind of audience to justify the kind of budget a story like this would require.
posted by shmegegge at 6:29 AM on February 23, 2007


I think this is going to be one of those situations where we, the fans MeFites, wouldn't be happy even if we were hung with a brand new rope.
posted by tadellin at 6:30 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


DU, well you have to have the book handy as well. I don't think the book is particularly hard to understand, if you know the references.

I was not a comic book fan when I read it, so a lot of it went over my head until I re-read it with the annotations handy.
posted by empath at 6:32 AM on February 23, 2007


DU:

You have to understand that Watchmen is a work that is, primarily, deconstructing superheroism in terms of the real world. It asks -- what would it be like if there were costumed superheroes in World War II? What would the Cold War have been like with a godlike superhuman? What are the realities and consequences of self-appointed masked vigilantes? Moore turned superhero comics effectively on their head by asking questions about the real world with superheroes as a significant part of it (rather than adding them superficially on top of the existing society as comics up until then did).

It's also a little confusing these days, because comics have taken the dark, "gritty" tone that Watchmen used for literary effect, and turned it into a genre trope on its own, which has blunted its effect.
posted by graymouser at 6:33 AM on February 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have to comment on this. Disclaimer: I know Zack, my son is the Producer for Snyder's production company, Cruel and Unusual Films.

Zack did a great job on the Dawn remake, but his work on 300 (Frank Miller's graphic novel, but ya'll knew that already!) is just fantastic!

I've seen most of 300 (to be released March 9th), either by being present at the filming in Montreal or by sitting in on editing sessions in Hollywood. You'll be amazed by what Zack and company has done with Miller's work. After seeing 300, I'm confident that he can pull off Watchmen, I suspect it will be a pleasant suprise to most (and, of course, a terrible thing for a few diehards that think nothing should ever be redone, remade, revisioned, created in a different media, yada, yada).
posted by HuronBob at 6:38 AM on February 23, 2007


I find it discouraging/unsurprising that the studio is disappointed that this won't be a CGI-larded, synergy-rich, merch-loaded license to print money. "But, but...ain't it like Spider-Man and X-Men?? I t'ought we wuz buyin' a superhero pitchah...!!" Which means it's hobbled at the starting gate.
I'm very leery of Watchmen: The Movie because of its inherent unmarketability in a genre (and industry) that demands it.
Just as I am of His Dark Materials in film form. Anti-Christianity/organized religion a hard sell come the holidays.

And yes, yes, a thousand times yes to the mini-series idea.
posted by the sobsister at 6:39 AM on February 23, 2007


Well, it's about a bit more than that. Moore also delves into the idea of a Nietzchean Superman-- Ozymandias, Dr Manhattan and Rorschach all have moved beyond traditional morality and the plot is driven by the repercussions of that.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I will almost certainly be re-reading Watchmen soon, but it is doubtful I'll do it by the flickering light of my CRT as I switch back and forth between the two to fully ingest each panel. Hopefully I'll take away more this time.

...comics have taken the dark, "gritty" tone that Watchmen used for literary effect, and turned it into a genre trope on its own, which has blunted its effect.

I think this was exactly my problem. I was expecting something more formal that was basically a regular comic, but grittified. It wasn't until much later that I realized there was a real story under there.
posted by DU at 6:44 AM on February 23, 2007


o/t

DU - It was Tom Sawyer not Mark Twain appearing in the awful LXG. Twain's later books including Tom Sawyer, Detective, one of the sequels featuring the eponymous hero of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
posted by longbaugh at 6:51 AM on February 23, 2007


A fat Nite Owl goes for his constitutional. I don't remember three pages of walking panels.
posted by sourwookie at 6:59 AM on February 23, 2007


Watchmen. should. not. be. a. movie.

Yep, pretty much.

I've really gotten disillusioned with comics-to-movie adaptations. They're not universally bad-- Ghost World is tops-- but it's just becoming more and more clear to me that what appeals to me about a given comic is often in the details: little touches in the art, or the pacing, or the panel flow. And things like that can't translate to movies because they're bound up in the medium. And it's tough to find a comic that's more bound up in its own medium than Watchmen.

If I had a gun to my head and was forced to suggest a comic for film adaptation, I guess I'd say The Invisibles, because the ideas are generally better than the execustion and the art's often shitty, so there might be room for real improvement if it was tightened and modified into, say, a miniseries.
posted by COBRA! at 6:59 AM on February 23, 2007


If Watchmen is to be adapted, it really needs to be an HBO mini-series.

I've been saying this for years. Just each character in that book deserves an episode to themselves (minimum).

But I'd rather have it never reach the cinemas. I have lots of issues with comic books being adapted to the screen. When you have people like Miller and Moore on the top of their game, no one does comics better. And both these men are absolutely committed to the format as much as the stories presented within them (just look at the comic-within-a-comic in Watchmen or the absolutely amazing single-page, show-stopping monochrome images from Sin City). Any translation onto screen is not going to work on as many levels. It's like making a comic book adaptation of The Player. Sure, it works on the base level of entertainment, but all the extra levels are lost in the translation. This is why I disliked Sin City: the images, casting and dialogue are all present and accounted for but it just doesn't flow like the comic book did. The dramatic pauses, the very basics of the language of comics, which Moore and Miller understand, do not cross over to film (as a lot of the stuff they both use has been borrowed from film initially anyway)...
posted by slimepuppy at 7:03 AM on February 23, 2007


p.s. Preacher as an HBO mini-series? From the Wiki regarding this -

Mark Steven Johnson told SCI FI Wire that he plans to turn each issue of the comic into a single episode, which will be as close to the original source material as possible. "I gave [HBO] the comics, and I said, 'Every issue is an hour,'" Johnson said at a preview of his upcoming film Ghost Rider in Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 30. "And it's exactly the book. ... I had my meeting yesterday, and Garth Ennis is on the phone, and we're all in the room, and Garth is like, 'You don't have to be so beholden to the comic.' And I'm like, 'No, no, no. It's got to be like the comic.' So that's what's so brilliant about it. It's just like, HBO, who else would do it but them? Nobody. ... HBO is just like, 'Bring it on.'" Johnson has also confirmed that this will include the various one-shots and mini-series.

Chinny fucking reckon. I will eat my MeFi membership if this is the case.
posted by longbaugh at 7:04 AM on February 23, 2007


Fuck. What Cobra said. Damn psychics, stealing my ideas 4 minutes at a time.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:05 AM on February 23, 2007


I think the fans won't be happy because I don't think it can be done. Some of what they did in Watchmen was possible because of it's format. Simillarly, I can't imagine the fans being happy with the short story version of Toccata and Fugue in D minor or the oil painting version of Citizen Kane.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:20 AM on February 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


He seems to not be aiming for kids, but adults.

Films that are rated R have a much smaller audience, and given the subject material, an even smaller audience.

I have to think that the rating and audience demographic would raise questions in the minds of a room full of studio execs.


I think Watchmen could be successful as an HBO miniseries. (In fact, many book adaptations would be better off this way.) I was thrilled to learn it would be made into a movie, as I was pretty much filming it in my head as I read it. But it is strictly for adults. If studio execs try to turn it into something for kids, they'll just have another big budget flop on their hands. Those greedheads just never learn!
posted by Koko at 7:21 AM on February 23, 2007


Simillarly, I can't imagine the fans being happy with the short story version of Toccata and Fugue in D minor or the oil painting version of Citizen Kane.

Ironically, I was sympathetic to the "it shouldn't be a movie" view until you gave this example. The oil painting of Citizen Kane shouldn't be judged on how well it does exactly the same thing that the movie of Citizen Kane did, because it can't do the same thing. Instead, the oil painting of Citizen Kane should be judged on on its own merits and compared and contrasted with the movie.

It's like if you look a picture with red glasses on and like it, then diss the version you see when you have green glasses on because it "doesn't capture the original". Instead, you should be asking what new things you saw (either literally or metaphorically).
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on February 23, 2007


No matter the director's great intentions it will be ruined. See also his quote in the article where he says:

Zack...includes that the studio doesn't “understand why it's not Fantastic Four. I have to remind them, I go, ‘look, it's much more Strangelove than Fantastic Four,’ which they don't like hearing.”

The director could make a terrific adaptation of it, and the studio can still do whatever the FUCK they want with it before they release it. If they decide it won't appeal to Fantastic Four/Spiderman crowd the way it's delivered? Guess what:

Studio exec A: I don't understand why this guy with the white and black mask wears a hat and trenchcoat. Let's make a whole costume on him with CGI that's like his mask. That makes more sense. And the blue guy, is just like, so plain. He needs a costume. Oh, and there is no way he can be naked for half the movie. Get editing to cover up his junk.

Studio exec B: Yeah, I totally agree! Also, don't you think the whole Russia-Afghanistan thing is totally dated? And so is nuclear fear. We need to adapt it. How about we use the "War on Terror" as a concept to replace it?

Studio exec A: Agreed. Also, the ending is NOT screening well. People are way too depressed about what happens to New York. I mean, it's really too reminiscent of 9/11. The public will be too upset about this! How about we come up with a different ending. Something a little, I don't know, happier. We can do anything with CGI!

Snyder, yelling from parking lot: Let me in!

Studio exec A: Do you hear something?

Studio exec B: Yes, but let's ignore it. We need to finish this shit up.
posted by poppo at 7:30 AM on February 23, 2007


... HBO miniseries ...

That's the ideal vehicle. It's a 13- (12?) chapter novel, for petes sake, and the panels are as dense as dogshit in the arctic. But it would be too expensive for HBO to do that way.

(Not apropros Moore, of course, but I'm dying for an HBO miniseries treatment of American Gods, and mentally casting it is one of my geekier leisure-time activities...)
posted by lodurr at 7:32 AM on February 23, 2007


... [Frank Miller's] 300 ...

Frankly, I have to say, this just looks effing bizarre. I really can't imagine why I would want to see it -- looks like a classic example of late-American Media Complex SUPER MASSIVE ULTRA OVERKILL ON STEROIDS!!!!!!!

I mean, isn't 300 men gallantly holding their position against tens of thousands dramatic enough? Do you have to add Billy Zane chasing them through a sinking ship with a gun a bunch of freaky monsters?
posted by lodurr at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


lodurr: in the comic there are some freaky monsters, or at least, monster-like freaks.
posted by papakwanz at 8:08 AM on February 23, 2007


Oh, and lest we forget bad Alan Moore film adaptations, don't ignore the sublime crapitude of From Hell.

V was the only semi-decent adaptation of Moore's work, and it was really just OK. As a big budget actioner with some smart ideas, controversial ones at that, it was a success. But they dumbed down the politics a lot, I think, as well as V's character, and the tacked on pseudo-love story was atrocious.

I for one waver between camps on whether or not people should even try to adapt comics (or any other media) to film. On the one hand, its always cool to see something you liked as a book or whatever up on the big screen, and some of them can be great movies. I don't particularly mind if they make changes, as things that work in one medium won't work in another (unless it's Sin City, which I thought was a brilliant adaptation). On the other hand, if someone destroys the spirit of the thing, what's the point? And shouldn't filmmakers be crafting works for there own artform? Shouldn't they be creating great films instead of good adaptations of books? If they didn't just produce remakes and adaptations, maybe Hollywood wouldn't be so creatively bankrupt.

That said, the best comic for film adaptation evar is The Losers, which basically answers the question, "What if Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer made a film version of The A-Team... and it was balls-out awesome?"
posted by papakwanz at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2007


I am about to commit heresy. And not for JUST the sake of being contrary, as is my usual modus operandi.

I think it would make perhaps the most easily translatable comic adaption of most the popular comic books. I don't think it stands the test of time, however. It's Reagan era place/time would not translate to contemporary well. It could be done as alt reality period peice or something. However, the characters are fleshed out and interesting for actors (if not out-and-out noir cliché - and that works for a film maker) and much more weight than the adolescent Sin City characters.

If they do it LOTR style in 2 parts you could get some great depth . It could get away easily with a PG-13 label. Really. It's violent. But it could pass PG-13 muster.

But this not the act of heresy I of which I spoke. I love the watchmen. But I hated the apocalyptic ending with the giant fake alien clone thing. I thought it was so silly ( I realize that was the point) that it ruined the noir mood set by all the other chapters. I think a good filmmaker could interpret that much better. There I said it.
posted by tkchrist at 8:58 AM on February 23, 2007


lodurr... you need to understand that the movie "300" is not a documentary, this is the adaptation of Miller's graphic novel, and, yes, Snyder added a bit...

Don't prejudge this one, I'm thinking that folks will be pleased.

As for the studio execs messing with Zack's vision for Watchmen, keep in mind that Zack carries a bit of clout now. Even with Dawn, his first feature, he was pretty much given a free hand in terms of the violence and the rating. 300 is much the same, there isn't much messing with it by the studio, about the only concession Snyder made with "300" is that the Spartans are not "swinging free" through the movie as they are in the graphic novel.

Frank Miller loved the way "300" was directed, I was on set one of the days that Miller was watching the shoot. Interesting hearing him talk about his impressions of the adaptation, it struck me that he was surprised that it was so true to the novel in terms of it's feel and intent.
posted by HuronBob at 9:01 AM on February 23, 2007


I don't like Frank Miller. There I said it. His macho idiot right-wing politics pollute everything he touches. His style is fantastic but his stories are just hacky and retarded. The 300 looks very pretty but is just too over stylized for a feature film. I think the over stimulated short attention span kids will love it and it will be a big mega hit. But I predict I will have to take a Zanax and have a nap half way through it.
posted by tkchrist at 9:05 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I mean, isn't 300 men gallantly holding their position against tens of thousands dramatic enough? Do you have to add Billy Zane chasing them through a sinking ship with a gun a bunch of freaky monsters?
posted by lodurr at 10:35 AM EST on February 23


Hear hear! I read the graphic novel and what jumped out at me immediately was that it read like a video game script. First the good guys fight a bunch of drones/zombies to get to the first boss/monster level, and then they do it again, and they they fight the super boss at the end. Oh, and here's some T&A to keep you occupied while the next level loads.

The reason we remember this story that actually happened in the real world is because of the heroism, valor, and spartans's dedication to their country and way of life. There are dozens of ways that story could be told now, given current events, that would make it relevant. Is it worth sacrificing yourself for your country and leaders if they are corrupt? In today's world, who are the spartans, and who are the persians? It's a war story. There's a controversial war going on. You do the math.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, I understand what 300 is. I think the concept is kind of silly, but as long as it stays in graphic novels I don't have to pay attention to it.

Once it's in the megaplex, though, and out on the videogames and injected into the popular culture like hydrogenated swine fat, I'll have to deal with it all the them.

Put another way: In the comic, it's still SUPER MASSIVE ULTRA OVERKILL ON STEROIDS!!!!!!! As a film, it's SUPER MASSIVE ULTRA OVERKILL ON STEROIDS eXTREME TO THE MAX!!!!!!! that I have to pay attention to and get annoyed by.

Put yet another way: It's Billy Zane chasing Romeo and Juliet through a sinking ship with a gun. It's the death of imagination at the hand of the attitude that More. Is. Better.
posted by lodurr at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2007


on postview: What pastabagel said.

... and he's just scratching the surface. Consider who the Spartans were blocking for. It's a bit like Kurds riding into Anbar to keep down Shi'ite ethnic clensing. Or maybe not, but 300 doesn't help us figure that out. Again, work the math and come up with something interesting.
posted by lodurr at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2007


tkchrist: where's the heresy, man? You promised heresy and all you delivered was a cogent plot critique. I want my monye back. Sheez.
posted by lodurr at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2007



The reason we remember this story that actually happened in the real world is because of the heroism, valor, and spartans's dedication to their country and way of life.

I always wanted THIS movie made. The real historical drama. It is one of my favorite stories. However. Do you know what THE crucial element would be? Not just the gritty historical details and characters. No.

The absolutely crucial detail to the story of the Spartan 300 would be this:

The Spartans, while oozing with valor and badassness, were at their very core complete fucking assholes and their society doomed as a result of that.

Now. Wouldn't THAT make an awesome movie. The protagonists, who have all these great qualities, these guys you root for - are all elitist totalitarian pricks fighting for a doomed flawed culture.

I WANT THAT MOVIE.
posted by tkchrist at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


tkchrist: where's the heresy, man? You promised heresy and all you delivered was a cogent plot critique. I want my monye back. Sheez.

Okay. I think all the the fill characters should be EWOKS!
posted by tkchrist at 9:22 AM on February 23, 2007


The Spartans, while oozing with valor and badassness, were at their very core complete fucking assholes and their society doomed as a result of that.

Awesome.

and I will also use that line on my wife the next time she swells up with Michigan State pride. In yer face, Sparty.
posted by COBRA! at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2007


OK, now you're just being silly.


Oh, and: I WANT THAT MOVIE TOO!!!!
posted by lodurr at 9:31 AM on February 23, 2007


Eponysterical.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:57 AM on February 23, 2007


I'm not sure how you draw a 'too silly' dividing line between a 500 foot tall naked blue man with complete power over time and space, and a faked alien invasion.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2007


Very simple: If there are ewoks, we're across the line.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on February 23, 2007


While we're ranting about the 300, I'm going to tangent further. All movie adaptions of comic books are doomed to stupidity unless they are extremely highly stylized. Consider the Watchmen. In a comic book (sorry, graphic novel) it's okay if the hero is in a mask or costume, because everything looks like a cartoon. Even though it's pictures, it suggests an animation.

But in a movie, you have to explain why are real person would put on a costume. No one in real life puts on costumes, unless they are a furry, or it's Halloween. People wear uniforms, but not costumes.

So right from the start a film with a caped crusader or masked avenger is ridiculous. In the first Spider-Man it was semi-plausible because he was a kid and read comic books, so you could understand that he'd imitating what he perceived as the closest analogue (the film makes no reference to him having read Nietzsche ).

But for the Watchmen, it's going to be absurd. The plot is complex, let's call it adult, but when you film people in costumes and masks with personal rocketships in their closets, the movie turns into a kid film. And let's not confuse a dark brooding hero a la Batman Begins with a chatacter with depth. The plot and characters can be dark and gritty and still be one-dimensional.

What has to happen, in my humble opinion, is for these stories to be deconstructed to their theme, underlying conflicts, and subtext, and then built back up into a cogent film, all the while stripping it of the trappings of the comic book ghetto - the costumes, mad scientists, and superpowers, for example.

This, in my opinion is why V for Vendetta failed. The politics in it were not controversial as a previous comment mentioned, because the State was cast in true comic-book fashion as overtly fascist and oppressive. The State very clearly wore the black hat, so blowing up parliament was not a big deal because no one doubts that they are the bad guys.

Controversy would have been to depict the state as it is in fact, but through the film illustrate how it is subtly fascist or oppressive (if that is in fact the point of the film). Now the question becomes to what extent is fighting the state moral or ethical. Are cops legitimate physical targets of criticism of the government? At other times in history and in other places, they were? Is the revolutionary hero risk going too far and becoming a terrorist in fighting a state that itself hasn't become too oppressive? Does the state, by encroaching slowly on liberty, the encroachment spanning generations, leaders, parties, etc- does that state permanently inoculate itself against the essential middle-class revolution, because the generation of citizens alive at any time never perceives the portion of the encroachment it experiences as being that bad?

This would be controversial, it casts the real State underwhich the audience lives as the enemy, and the films central question lingers in that audience's mind long after the film is over - Am I free? If not, what next?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:36 AM on February 23, 2007


V for Vendetta failed? I gave it 5 stars on Netflix. But I'm well known for having bad taste.
posted by DU at 10:39 AM on February 23, 2007


Todd, way to fucking nail it on the Spartans, brother.

That said, I think it's worth recalling the comic-book reading experience of 1985, reading Watchmen, Dark Knight, and Love and Rockets as each came out, from issue to issue. I include L&R for that year because Jaime and Beto were engaged in a competitive dialog with both one another and the other two series.

Each issue of each of these titles felt like a bomb in your hand that you KNEW was going to explode as you turned the final page. In particular, as Moore's darkening tone flipped over into something really beyond the prior reach of comics with the nested Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym adaptation, I remember looking up from that particular issue and feeling as though I'd just heard something crazy and terrible, like, oh, maybe that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash, or that the World Trade Center had been destroyed, or that American constitutional liberties had been shredded and disposed of by a paranoid, secretive regime that seemed bent on disposing of democratic rule of law as impediments to the free excercise of power domestically and globally.

I remember staring into the black-printed interior cover of the Death of Speedy issue of Love & Rockets, wanting to weep, and being buoyed up as I turned the page to the rear exterior cover image of Speedy and Ray and some of the other regulars, happy and free in the California sunshine.

I don't recall the particulars of the sense of blasting trauma and doom that accompanied the Dark Knight, but it's worth noting that Miller's careful slowing of time in the shooting death of young Bruce Wayne's parents was literally recreated in the most recent Batman and has since reappeared in other Batman comics, the pearls of Mrs. Wayne's snapped necklace suspended in air and dropping one by one to the cobblestone in a strange riff on Jackie Kennedy's necklace, seen in slo-mo repeat beyond reasonable demand since that November before my birth.

The beauty and intensity of this comics-based doom and gloom nicely parallels the music of some other 80s artists, of course, and the soundtrack to both the Dark Knight and Watchmen for me will forever be Bauhaus and Joy Division. Why, it's enough to make me want to redon the black black, even at my advanced age!

I do agree that it will be extremely difficult to do justice to the experience of reading Watchmen that year; after all, how can you possibly evoke the impossibly prophetic sense of dread that the series evoked? Perhaps that's one answer - if the filmmakers can retroactively tie the metaphoric visions of Watchmen to the myriad unfolding disasters we witness about us today, the project could reach a new audience.

I would note, in passing, that the nested adaptation of the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym would tend to give the lie to the idea that it is unpossible and stupid to try to take one form of media and transform it into another. Although the filmic From Hell gives one pause.
posted by mwhybark at 10:43 AM on February 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


PastaBagel: Have you actually READ Watchmen?

If you have, I wouldn't think you'd say this:

But in a movie, you have to explain why are real person would put on a costume. No one in real life puts on costumes, unless they are a furry, or it's Halloween. People wear uniforms, but not costumes.

Because that is all discussed in detail in the book.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on February 23, 2007


I'm not sure how you draw a 'too silly' dividing line between a 500 foot tall naked blue man with complete power over time and space, and a faked alien invasion.

Well. C'mon now. Why does everybody say things like that? Like: How can criticize the you "energy from human bodies" thing in the matrix yet embrace the other premise. Well. Because it makes no sense given the reality presented when better alternative spring to mind DURING the entertainment.

So. You can. Ok. There is internal consistency and then there is the absurd convenience of certain plot devices that shatter the suspended disbelief. Sometimes it's simply insulting to our intelligence to do things like that. It removes the illusions. It doesn't reinforce them.

In Watchmen the alien thing just PLOPS right in at the end... after pages and pages of the set up of each and every character. After all this meticulous plotting. And then. Plop. Fake dead Alien. I am not opposed to the idea but the rest of the story was told in a very adult format and then he thrusts this very childish ending. It could be done much better.
posted by tkchrist at 10:44 AM on February 23, 2007


All respect to HuronBob, but let's be frank here. This movie adaptation of Watchmen is going to fucking suck. I don't care how good the director is.

All the bits that made it such a spectacular success were because, and not in spite of, the fact that it was a comic. Take those away and you're left with a murder mystery with costumes and a slightly dodgy ending.
posted by ninthart at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2007


PS. I loved Watchmen. There is just something about the end that stuck in my craw all these years. To me that is a GOOD sign. He created such a rich atmosphere everywhere else that the end actually mattered.

PS. PS. I also love L&R.
posted by tkchrist at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2007


On another tangent, I will state that the best comic book film I've seen in years was Children of Men, and for precisely the same reasons that Pastabagel wants Watchmen stripped to the cogs and recased. The film provided gloriously engaging spectacle in service of a detailed visualization of that dystopian Britain, far more convincingly realized than that seen in V, for example.

That said, I don't see how you could approach it by stripping the underwear perversion out of the story, since the story itself is a postmodern reflection on and farewell to the idea of the superhero genre.
posted by mwhybark at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2007


empath

Yes, I've read the Watchmen (a long long time ago, but I did read it). My point is not to explain why they wear the masks, but that in real life no one would ever wear them. You might wear a black ski-mask or something, to disguise yourself, but you wouldn't wear a costume that makes you more identifiable than you would otherwise be. In the comic, it makes sense, in the real world, it doesn't.

In the comic, it defines their identity (I don't recall if this is the stated reason in the book, but it is a reason that comic heroes wear them in general), but doing this in the real-world is a serious personality disorder, which confuses the story unless it is the point of the story. The reason it's a disorder is because one's identity in real life is multifaceted and evolving. In comics, it isn't really. It's usually set, or the identity crisis persists, because a resolution would end the storyline. (In real life, a real-world Batman coming to terms and acceptance of the death of his parents would spell the end of his nocturnal vigilantism).

All these characters, these heroes, are trapped in transistional states. For example, Batman is almost permanently stuck in the second stage of grief, but occasionally progresses as far as depression. They even write him new tragedies to keep him there (death of robin, etc).

It's no surprise that when these comic books have deep, considered plotlines, they are usually psychological in nature (Rorschach is obvious; late 80's early 90's Batman - including books like the killing joke, the cult, arkham asylum, death in the family - is deeply psychological (though Batman himself isn't all that deep); death of superman; the punisher, etc). But the psychological issue is never resolved.

Again, all this works for comic books, in fact it's the medium's strong suit, because the issue can be revisited over and over, you never have to develop the character too much, and it never has to end. But a film is simply too literal, too real in my estimation. You can bring the plot over, with all the attendant conflicts and characters, but the set pieces and fantasy aspect has to be left out if you don't want the movie to turn into a fantasy.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:03 AM on February 23, 2007


postmodern reflection on and farewell to the idea of the superhero genre.
posted by mwhybark at 1:53 PM EST on February 23


Nicely said, but here we are twenty years after The Watchmen, spending billions of dollars on one costumed hero movie after another, strip mining the DC and Marvel archives.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2007


doing this in the real-world is a serious personality disorder, which confuses the story unless it is the point of the story. The reason it's a disorder is because one's identity in real life is multifaceted and evolving.

With the possible exception of Dr. Manhattan, all the costumed characters in Watchmen are clearly depicted as suffering from personality disorders, to a greater (Rorschach, schizophrenia) or lesser (Night Owl, depression) extent.

Additionally, this is in fact a point of the story. Dr. Manhattan's mental state is explicitly identified as beyond judgement, of course, as he is become god, the destroyer of worlds.

Ha! I love that we're arguing about comix instead of working!

do not touch the merchandise
posted by mwhybark at 11:11 AM on February 23, 2007


I hear what you mean w/t/r the stasis of the characters as required by serial narrative. I think Moore was explicitly looking to create character arcs for these characters, which as far as I know, were never exhumed and forced in to zombie servitude.
posted by mwhybark at 11:13 AM on February 23, 2007


HuronBob, he's probably heard this a lot, but if you get a chance, tell Snyder that this particular Romero fanboy was completely won over by his version of Dawn. He nailed exactly what a remake should be: the same premise, taken in a different direction.

I look forward to 300 as well. Yes it's over the top, but... I like that sort of thing a lot. Not everything has to be fucking Dogme 95. The HD/green screen element gets me excited as well. I want to do that sort of thing some day. Also, it has armored war rhinos. Every movie should have war rhinos.

I won't comment on Watchmen, as I haven't read the book.
posted by brundlefly at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2007


The protagonists, who have all these great qualities, these guys you root for - are all elitist totalitarian pricks fighting for a doomed flawed culture.


They made this already and called it "Starship Troopers"

Yet another shitty adaptation
posted by Megafly at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2007


Watchmen's one of my favorite works of all time, and I've given up on film adaptations of comics in general, but I'd still say that it'd be possible in theory to make a good feature-length film of Watchmen.

LA Confidential was both a good book and movie. If you read the book first, you'd probably think it would be nearly impossible to adapt to feature-length -- there are half a dozen intertwined mysteries spanning decades.

Yet the screenwriter(s) managed to select threads from the book that made a story that could be told at movie-length, and even remained fairly true to the elements that they kept, despite all the elements they dropped and the compression in time.

Likewise, I see no reason it wouldn't be possible to make a satisfying movie that did the same thing with Watchmen.

But is it likely it'll end up any good? Not a bit. I expect another big dumb mess like LXG that I won't be seeing in the theater, if at all.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2007


In the comic, it defines their identity (I don't recall if this is the stated reason in the book, but it is a reason that comic heroes wear them in general), but doing this in the real-world is a serious personality disorder, which confuses the story unless it is the point of the story.

I think you may need to re-read the book, and particularly the supplemental non-comics material. Aside from the A-Plot, the B-Plot is all about how fucking insane you have to be to dress up in costumes and fight crime.

Every major character in the book, including the 'heroes' are complete nutcases.
posted by empath at 11:32 AM on February 23, 2007


i think he might be able to pull it off. in an interview i recently read he talked about now being a perfect time for a deconstructionist superhero movie in context to the last few years of spiderman, fantastic four, etc. if he takes it in the direction of commenting on superhero movies with the source material as a framework it may work. sin city was ok, but trying to copy exactly from one medium to another didn't work for me.

i also just need to say that the director of ghost rider is in the same league as uwe boll. that movie was one of the most reprehensible pieces of shit i've ever seen.

that page 5 short was pretty awesome, especially from a senior in high school.
posted by andywolf at 11:35 AM on February 23, 2007


Yeah, yeah: but where's my Tales of the Beanworld movie? Hmmmm?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:40 AM on February 23, 2007


Megafly writes "They made this already and called it 'Starship Troopers'

"Yet another shitty adaptation"


Oooh. Thems fightin' words.
posted by brundlefly at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2007


I think you may need to re-read the book, and particularly the supplemental non-comics material

Well, I was planning to reread it later tonight just from this thread anyway. But what "supplemental non-comics material" are you talking about?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:45 AM on February 23, 2007


The magazine articles, the excerpts from Night Owl I's autobiography, etc.
posted by empath at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2007


supplemental non-comics material

Each issue of the book as originally issued came with an extensive, fictional appendix detailing some aspect of the world and characters the story was set in. In particular I recall a piece about the lost author of the Gordon Pym adaptation, a man depicted as the brightest star at a comic company very like the pre-code EC, who vanished mysteriously after the code ended the EC-like line's horror titles.

The appendices give crucial background and motivation information as well as being the first instance I am aware of of Moore's penchant for exhaustive supporting material (cf. From Hell.

I do not recall how this information is presented in the single-volume collection. I do recall that without doubt I have found reading and rereading the series in the original discrete-comicbook format a more satisfying experience.
posted by mwhybark at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2007


Thanks, empath and mwhybark. I have the single volume collection, but I also have the individual books in an electronic form, so I'll read from those.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:57 AM on February 23, 2007


For Watchmen to work as a film, it would need to be a deconstruction of superhero movies, not superhero comics.

If done well, that could be brilliant. If. And frankly I'm not sure any one director, or any one studio, has the right to take such a risk on humanity's behalf.

I am quite prepared to never see this movie.

And if I ever - ever - see an eight year old kid wearing a department store Rorshach mask at Halloween, there will be retribution.
posted by poweredbybeard at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just wait until you see the Rorshach Meal at Taco Bell.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Megafly writes "They made this already and called it 'Starship Troopers'

"Yet another shitty adaptation"


The comparison doesn't hold. The soldier citizen 'hoplite' thing, maybe. But. The Troopers were never, even in the source material, underdogs. Except only in the cursory motivation of the war after the Asteroid bombings of Earth cities.

There was never any doubt the Troopers were superior and would win. Even in Heinlein's book, that I loved, it was not a thrill a minute underdog story. It was a techno geekfest.

The 300 Spartans in the battle of the pass at Thermopylae were certainly underdogs who were fighting a doomed and losing battle. It has much more weight becuase it is TRUE. Though they, the Greeks, ultimately won the war when Xerxes Persian navy was later obliterated by Athenian forces and he had to leave behind a less able subordinate, Mardonius. The Spartans by that time were on the way down as Athens ascended.

And it was HOW the Spartans were bastards that is interesting. They had all these oddly progressive ideas - like their Constitution, the elected epohors, and having a Dual monarchy- but the society thrived on slavery, brutal military opression and conquest. They actually HUNTED other human beings for sport. Damn.
posted by tkchrist at 12:18 PM on February 23, 2007


Or the crossover Watchmen ketchup-stain smiley / Jack antenna ball promo from Jack in the Box.
posted by mwhybark at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2007


and don't forget the blood pudding, Todd!
posted by mwhybark at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2007


I think someone, maybe Terry Gilliam, said that Watchmen would work great as a TV miniseries--that always sounded right to me: TV would give the drabness and length that Watchmen needs. Imagine Dekalog crossed with The Singing Detective.

But I think when people here say that Watchmen couldn't be made into a movie, it's not out of any intrinsic quality of Watchmen, necessarily, but because comics have typically not produced that many faithful or great movies. It's possible that a Watchmen movie could succeed in some ways where the comic fails: for example, Moore regretted how Rorschach comes off as a romantic hero rather than a fascist. I think this has something to do with how comics tend to have a muting effect on extreme violence or profanity. In the movie, he could seem like the right-winger he actually is. But, this goes the other way too: when literalized, a lot of Watchmen will look or sound silly, especially a lot of the prose or the pages where nothing really happens. The first youtube link shows how unwatchable such fidelity would be.

I think the directorial challenge will be not just slicing up the scope of the work, but (1) adapting the texture of the work, which is very formalistic (the word/image combinations are going to be interesting) but also very empirical and "gritty"; and (2) adapting the context. Watchmen is a great work, but it is one that was created to address a very specific political and artist context. In that respect, a great Watchmen movie might be one that actually wasn't so faithful, but recontextualized Watchmen to what it would be like if written today.
posted by kensanway at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"For their part, the Spartans primarily ate pork stew, the famous black gruel (μέλας ζωμός / mélas zômós). Dicaearchus, quoted by Athenaeus gives us its composition: pork, salt, vinegar and blood. The dish was served with figs and cheese. The 2nd and 3rd century author Aelian, in his Miscellany (XIV, 7), claims that Spartan cooks were prohibited from cooking anything other than meat." ^
posted by mwhybark at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2007


Rorschach was also partially inspired by that Bernie whatsisface, the guy that shot those teenagers on the subway in NYC in the 1980s.
posted by mwhybark at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2007


kansanway-

I think the directorial challenge will be not just slicing up the scope of the work, but (1) adapting the texture of the work, which is very formalistic (the word/image combinations are going to be interesting) but also very empirical and "gritty"; and (2) adapting the context.

Right. Think Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. Like most of King's books, the Shining is very much in the main character's head. The reason most film adaptations of King's work fail is that there is no way to film this internal monologue. But if you just shoot the plot and dialogue - it looks hack. Because King's brilliance is taking the hack plot and recasting it. The subject of King's books reads link a list of horror cliche's - the vampire story, the apocalypse story, the zombie story, the psychic story, the alien story, the thing in the woods/boogeyman, etc. But his books themselves aren't cliches, because he cleverly gives the characters conflicts that aren't dependent on the plot and that resonate with readers (marital strife, adolescent rebellion, mid-life crisis, etc).

The comic book genre, the idiom, is about superheroes, usually in masks and with freakish powers. The medium is very much the message. This is not the case with film, so like poweredbybeard said, the critique would have to be of superhero movies, because the film does not imply the context the way a comic book does.

Kubrick succeeded in translating King's novel by using photography to communicate the mood of that internal monologue that simply could not be filmed. Likewise, the medium of film would have to be applied creatively to communicate that which is present in the comic but would would be ridiculous if adapted literally to film.

But Snyder strikes me as way too literal to pull this off with something like the Watchmen, because the watchmen needs to be broken down to its essence and rebuilt more than most comic books. Dawn of the Dead certainly didn't rely on subtle cinematography to makes it's point (and this isn't tongue in cheek - the movie Halloween did precisely this). For the 300, it looks like he simply used the comic as his storyboard. So I'm not all that confident.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:59 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Getz.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:00 PM on February 23, 2007


That poor schlep Bernie Getz. The rights' Charles Bronson Death Wish poster boy. The lefts' Racist with a Gun.

In realty he was just scared and pathetic anybody.
posted by tkchrist at 1:48 PM on February 23, 2007


I do not recall how this information is presented in the single-volume collection.

Every Watchmen collection I've seen has the non-comics material in the same place and order it occurred in the individual comics.

I once lent Watchmen to someone stressing that they should be sure not to skip the prose parts (not even sure why it occurred to me to say that.) He returned it, complaining that he didn't get it, but had skipped all those boring prose parts...
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2007


I see what you mean DU, but I think there comes a point where have to unbuild and rebuild so much that you might be better off just starting over and trying to capture the same themes as Citizen Kane (or whatever) in a new work rather than trying to rework the old piece in a new genre.

Consider “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” It was it’s own thing and so it could be The Odyssey at the same time and be good. But had it tried to just be The Odyssey with Bluegrass it would have sucked so hard it would have collapsed into a singularity.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:46 PM on February 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Forget Moore and Miller-

Peter Jackson needs to pull his head out of his ass and direct a three-part epic adaptation of Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

That would be both awesome and relevant.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:47 PM on February 23, 2007


Last night we were watching Predator 3 or some garbage on RTE and I remarked to my wife that the movie was a good example of one of the appeals of comics to a young teenage boy - comics don't have to use strobe lighting or weird framing to cut away from the action scenes. You can show anything the artist feels up to drawing.

It's interesting also to see this thread so soon after some interesting comments on Eddie Campbell's blog re: the language of cinema and the language of comics. I agree with my fellow Mr. Campbell although I would take it to different conclusions. Anyway...

Regarding whether Watchmen is a "postmodern reflection on and farewell to the idea of the superhero genre," (emphasis added) I think it, or the culture it created, suffers from one of postmodernism's defects, which is the literal and metaphoric dead-end of presuming the end of a form (i.e. Fukuyama's The End of History or Danto's The End of Art). I've been reading Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 4 (some of you have quit reading right about now, I'm sure) and have been struck by its vitality and brio with the form. I didn't care one way or the other about the movie version of the FF until reading this volume and am now a bit saddened that Stan the Man didn't take a bit more care with his baby.

So, Watchmen is a fine move to make, to literalize the superhero in "real life." But it's just one move and only interesting to follow inasmuch as it produces a good story, which it absolutely does. But to allow it to jaundice any other superhero story unnecessarily is a bit like saying "well, you can't crush a thousand warriors under one chariot" after reading the Tain Bo Cuailnge: "From now on I'm only watching Full Metal Jacket".

In some sense the literalization of the superhero plays exactly into the fanboy hands it supposes to criticize because it acknowledges that "reality" was the basis for the stories in the first place. To bring it back to Lee & Kirby, the innovation of making the FF a bickering family was formal rather than functional. It gave the superhero story a vital, contemporary verve, but it didn't change what the stories were, and are, about - the desire for transcendent form and power.
posted by Slothrop at 3:14 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel, sorry to be so literal and picky, but comic books are not a genre, nor are superhero comics a medium. Superhero comics are a genre of comics which is a medium. I love superhero comics, but they in no way constrain or define the formal possibilities of sequential art.
posted by Slothrop at 3:21 PM on February 23, 2007


I've talked with Bernard Goetz (note the correct spelling of his last name) and he's completely and utterly different from his depiction in the media. His big passion is animal rights and vegetarianism. He doesn't talk about the subway shooting except to say that it was dramatically misrepresented by the papers (which I'm always willing to believe).

If you remember, Goetz gave himself up voluntarily...


Now I'm here, I think a movie of Watchmen will be impossible. There is simply too much material -- there is no logical way to cut it into two or three places. Love the minseries idea though.

The ending of Watchmen is perfect -- it's not tacked on at all. There are hints and foreshadowings from the very beginning of the book -- you even see sketches of the monster in one or two places. But the whole point is that it's a big bang -- a really big bang -- and it's completely morally ambiguous. Is it really worth killing hundreds of thousands of people to save the Earth?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:29 PM on February 23, 2007


“Some of what they did in Watchmen was possible because of it's format....”

Well said.

“the oil painting of Citizen Kane should be judged on on its own merits and compared and contrasted with the movie.”

It should not, then, be called “Citizen Kane.” Plenty of paintings of Christ and the Virgin Mary, etc. - not all called the same thing.


“The Spartans, while oozing with valor and badassness, were at their very core complete fucking assholes and their society doomed as a result of that.”

Be a good movie. But I disagree. At the time having a law, beyond the interests of an individual like a Tyrant or a group (like the Athenians) that all men were subject to, was a pretty big advance. They were still products of their world. 2,000 years from now we’ll be the barbarians.


“Yet the screenwriter(s) managed to select threads from the book that made a story that could be told at movie-length...”

If they can do that with Watchmen, great. But it’s very much like a symphony. The non-comic parts blend with the comic parts, all the themes dovetail, split and then self-reference. It’s beyond a deconstruction of superheros, it’s a beautiful peice of work in form. It’s an absolute mastery of the medium. Which, in a sense, it has to be, precisely because it deconstructs it’s subject. Some of Bach’s work - other masters - if you understand them there are parts where “it can only be THIS.” That’s what Moore’s done. I’d give it a place among the Divine Comedy, the Canterbury Tales, and the other pinnicle works.
One can say it’s not to one’s taste, but it is quite definitely a master work. And as such, cannot be replicated in another form.

Take Old Man and the Sea f’rinstance. There is so much there that Hemmingway does not say that you couldn’t put it in a movie. Oh, it doesn’t stop anyone from trying. Anthony Quinn is a great actor, but it’s nowhere near the level of work that it derives it’s title from.
And really -why does everything have to be a movie?
No one says “Citizen Kane” would make a great comic. Or it should be a book or something. What makes it great is the director’s choices and the explication of the story within the medium of film.
Very hard to divorce an artist from his subject matter and medium and expect similar artistry.
I suppose because it’s more of a shared medium (film is) and we want to share it with the people who have not read the graphic novel.
But really, if someone doesn’t want to take the time to read the Divine Comedy or they just don’t get it - screw ‘em. Not everyone has rarified tastes in similar forms.
I couldn’t tell you what wine to drink with fish. I drink beer. But I don’t expect someone drinking a fine wine to say “hey, this would make a great beer.”

But y’know. Money.

It could be a good film. It’s just not going to be what it is.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:20 PM on February 23, 2007


I've only skimmed through this so excuse me if thas has been discussed, but for the past umpteen years I've gotten a little tired of Moore stating how much he hates the films of his books. Can someone explain to me why the f*ck he sanctions the movies then?
posted by Frasermoo at 5:53 PM on February 23, 2007


Can someone explain to me why the f*ck he sanctions the movies then?

i don't think he owns the rights to them. i don't know for sure about that, but that's always been the gripe between the creators and dc/marvel. if stan lee had to sue marvel to get his due, i doubt moore has much to say over how his creations are used.
posted by andywolf at 6:23 PM on February 23, 2007


by the way, i second the nausicaa idea, that's one of the best comics ever.
posted by andywolf at 6:26 PM on February 23, 2007


I read the graphic novel and what jumped out at me immediately was that it read like a video game script. First the good guys fight a bunch of drones/zombies to get to the first boss/monster level, and then they do it again, and they they fight the super boss at the end. Oh, and here's some T&A to keep you occupied while the next level loads.

Wow, that's really lame. I was thinking of getting the graphic novel before the movie comes out, but if that's what Miller's done, I'd rather skip them both. How sad.
posted by homunculus at 7:03 PM on February 23, 2007


Agreed, Smedleyman.
I read and enjoy superhero comics, I rarely watch superhero movies. And it's even more infrequent that I enjoy them.

Take the last page of Watchmen #11, for example - 13 panels, no dialogue, reduced me to tears. You could try and copy that in film, but technically it would be as awkward and stilted as the freezeframe/fast cut bit in The Birds when Tippi Hedren watches the spilled gasoline ignite - and for that scene to be more than empty spectacle, if it was to have any emotional resonance, the movie would have to be 6+ hours long for the audience to care about the secondary characters depicted.

Regardless of Snyder's intentions and how closely he hews to the source material (I really liked Dawn... and will probably see 300), Watchmen as a film won't hold a candle to the comic, simply because the two media convey information in different ways - I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that wrapping an apple in an orange peel is futile, frustrating, and pointless; why not just eat the orange?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:17 PM on February 23, 2007


But had it tried to just be The Odyssey with Bluegrass it would have sucked so hard it would have collapsed into a singularity.

What, didn't you care for Cold Mountain?

Also, on a different track:

Slothrop, when I suggested that Watchmen was a farewell to the superhero genre, I meant that it was Moore's farewell, as he never tired of stating at the time. His helpless and witty return to the form in LXG does not invalidate what i view as a personal valediction and public funeral; his success (and Miller's, that season) revitalized the the genre, and not only in comics. It's surely not coincidental that Miller's Wayne looks very much like Clint Eastwood at 70, and that Unforgiven mine much of the same territory as Dark Knight. Of course, Miller wasn't come to bury Caesar as Moore was. In the end, each praised him with intent or against it, although it is said that he was ambitious.
posted by mwhybark at 9:00 PM on February 23, 2007


"...if it was to have any emotional resonance, the movie would have to be 6+ hours long for the audience to care about the secondary characters depicted."

Absolutely. Plus the earlier images of the Hiroshima lovers, the Shelley quote, the Prometheus reference + the links with the black freighter tales, plus the spilling of the Rorschach cards (as a foreshadow), etc, etc, etc. It's really really rich and dense and highly interwoven.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:41 PM on February 23, 2007


Here's an idea:
Why not just do a black freighter movie?

That might work.
posted by papakwanz at 11:09 PM on February 23, 2007


mwhybark, ok, gotcha! My response was meant to extend the discussion and not meant to rebuke you. Really, you had just distilled a latent sentiment rather effectively so your statement was just the best to quote. No worries!
posted by Slothrop at 11:42 PM on February 23, 2007


Moved to curiosity, I picked up my yellowing, dogeared single-volume copy and started rereading it. the first frame on page ten features a newspaper machine with the partial headline "Russia criticizes US Advances in Afghanistan," which amused me.
posted by mwhybark at 8:12 AM on February 27, 2007


Can someone explain to me why the f*ck he sanctions the movies then?

Because the artists (many of whom have only had a fraction of Moore's success) get a cut too? Eddie Campbell esentially founded a publishing company on his share of the From Hell movie money.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:27 AM on February 27, 2007




Also, the book is holding up extremely well. It was well before 9/11 the last time I recall reading it and the sheer density of the text, in combination with unsettling and regrettable domestic political developments unforeseen by the authors, lend it a distinctly prophetic quality.

Additionally, the forty-one-year-old-me is much better equipped to identify Moore's thematic and technical devices, let alone his allusions, than the nineteen-year-old-me. At least I knew the good stuff when I saw it. ;)
posted by mwhybark at 8:44 PM on March 9, 2007


And although I will probably check 300 out, having nearly finished rereading Watchmen, I would guess that Snyder, a director as focused on Miller's kinetic sense of action-action and oriented to a recreation of Miller's work as it may be possible to be, is very probably the exact wrong choice to tackle Watchmen as a film.

Observers here who posited a boutique series approach, a la Galactica or Deadwood were right on.

It's striking to me how many relatively simple, discrete elements in Watchmen appear to have been lifted by other projects, such as Rorschach's use of handcuffs and a hacksaw (Saw) or Veidt's television monitor wall information stream (a Matrix film, at the very least.

Hell, the idea of the dominant genre in comics as pirates has a whole new meaning, given both the Pirate Bay and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Seriously, the book reads like some kind of secret key to the present, an alternate explanation of how the 1970s connect to the Twenty-first Century.
posted by mwhybark at 8:59 PM on March 9, 2007


Wow, this thread is still open.

The thing that the Producers of Watchmen have to be careful about when selling this movie is to back-up from all of the 'meta' subject material and try to sell it as a 'straight' story – to wit,
"What if a serial killer started taking out super-heroes? The ones you thought were invulnerable; the ones who had 'retired', the heroes you thought had secret identities..."
Why? Because that's where the HEART of Moore's story lies, before you get to all of the MLA deconstructivist crap. That, and the honest characterization of people most likely to become masked vigilantes.

The audience ought to rightly recognize that Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach and Nite Owl are surrogates for Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Iron Man and treat the fiction as an analogy rather than a specific and particular case.

This much was the core of Alan Moore's effort as he was unable to license any DC or Marvel Universe characters to tell his story, and perhaps rightly so.
posted by vhsiv at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2007


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