Monday, November 21, 2005

WATCHMEN was one of my favorite comics

Watchmen is a dark, cynical story of a group of ex-superheroes drawn into a complex web of deception and conspiracy after one of their former colleagues is murdered. Events that occur in the present (or near future) are interspersed with flashbacks to the past that paint these “heroes” in a quite negative light. The comic, a self-contained 12-issue series by Alan Moore and David Gibbons, was one of the seminal comics of the 1980s reinvention of the superhero genre and is widely regarded as one of the best comic stories of all time.

As early as 1989, plans were being made to bring the Watchmen to the big screen, with Terry Gilliam directing. However, this attempt got no further than the script stage and it was in and out of development hell for a decade after that.

The problem is that, unlike Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men; to make a film of Watchmen involves adapting the story told in the comic itself. For other comic franchises, scriptwriters have the luxury of picking and choosing characters, themes and plots from several hundreds of issues. They are then free to create their own story using these elements but without the need to adapt a specific issue or issues.

The Watchmen movie will be an adaptation of an existing 12-issue story. It is a long, complex story, told simultaneously in two different time periods, with a fairly large central cast, featuring adult themes. As many people who have tried to get the movie made have found out, it will be very difficult to adapt and very expensive to make. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that the darker, more cerebral and more noirish take on superheroics will struggle to get a PG-13 rating and the Watchmen themselves lack the name recognition of guys like Spiderman and Batman.

David Hayter will be responsible for the difficult job of adapting the comics, something with which he at least has some experience, as he was a writer on both of the X-Men films. Currently, Hayter’s biggest claim to fame is being one of the most recognizable voices in video games, such as the voice of Snake in the popular Metal Gear Solid games and the guy who informs us that “It’s in the game” at the beginning of every EA Sports release.

Despite all these obstacles and potential pitfalls the quality of the source material is not in question and there is the potential for a good film at the end of it all. Assuming all goes according to plan, Watchmen is rumoured to start shooting in Prague later in 2004. As a huge fan of Alan Moore, I can only hope this adaptation fares better than previous Moore adaptations From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (both also filmed in Prague), which were both considered commercial and critical failures. (Ash Wakeman/BOP)

April 21, 2004
In an interview with Ain't It Cool News, screenwriter David Hayter said that Pi/Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky will be helming this project. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

June 6, 2005
The studio put the project in turnaround, meaning that it will not be made unless another studio happens to pick up the rights. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

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