Where there are films based on books and comics, there are arguments about who could have told the on-screen interpretation better. It’s inevitable. When it comes to Watchmen, Joel Silver has some thoughts about how his and Terry Gilliam’s version would have trumped Zack Snyder’s take on Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Snyder, of course, disagrees.
Silver recently spoke with ComingSoon, and among other topics, he discussed Watchmen . Silver and Gilliam were working on the project with 20th Century Fox, but it never came to be. Silver says Gilliam’s concept “was a MUCH much better movie” than Snyder’s 2009 film. Silver went on to say Snyder was too much of a slave to the material; Gilliam, he said, told the story in the graphic novel but with a different perspective.
Silver explained, “What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from Watchmen only became characters in a comic book.”
It sounds fascinating. Though Snyder’s film was visually engaging, I wouldn’t mind seeing Gilliam’s spin on the material. Snyder isn’t a fan, though. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he and his wife, Deborah Snyder, replied to Silver’s comments. He claimed the ending Gilliam had planned was “completely insane.”
Actually, he took it a little further: “Yeah, the fans would have stormed the castle on that one. So, honestly, I made Watchmen for myself. It’s probably my favorite movie that I’ve made. And I love the graphic novel and I really love everything about the movie. I love the style. I just love the movie and it was a labor of love. And I made it because I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy. So, finally I made it to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.”
That’s a strong statement, and ultimately, like Deborah Snyder says, you can’t win. You’ll have fans that agree with Gilliam’s take, and others who prefer Snyder’s thoughts. It’s the nature of retelling stories that have been beloved for years. Zack Snyder feels like audiences might receive Watchmen differently now: “And I believe that we’ve evolved — I believe that the audiences have evolved. I feel like Watchmen came out at sort of the height of the snarky Internet fanboy — like, when he had his biggest strength. And I think if that movie came out now — and this is just my opinion — because now that we’ve had “Avengers” and comic book culture is well established, I think people would realize that the movie is a satire. You know, the whole movie is a satire. It’s a genre-busting movie. The graphic novel was written to analyze the graphic novel — and comic books and the Cold War and politics and the place that comic books play in the mythology of pop culture. I guess that’s what I’m getting at with the end of Watchmen — in the end, the most important thing with the end was that it tells the story of the graphic novel. The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel — I used slightly different devices. The Gilliam version, if you look at it, it has nothing to do with the idea that is the end of the graphic novel. And that’s the thing that I would go, ‘Well, then don’t do it.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”
Thus ends the great Watchmen movie debate of 2014. We hope. How do you feel about Snyder’s reply to Joel Silver? Let us know in the comments.