I’m pretty excited about The Watchmen movie, but after watching the trailer for a third time, I thought “Wow. This could be really really bad.”
Here is the fundamental flaw, as I see it: The Watchmen was a deconstruction of super hero comics at a time when the genre was trying to rediscover itself. Along with The Dark Knight Returns, it paved the way for a new kind of super hero book, and helped mainstream more complex comics stories in general.
The movie is being directed by Zack Snyder, the guy who brought us Abs, Red, Shield, which, while high on visual spectacle, kind of lacked in the groundbreaking narrative department. I have little doubt that it will attempt a faithful retelling of the story—and given the complexity of the original, most likely fail at it, either cramming in too many details to be coherent or glossing over important character and thematic arcs for the sake of a quick and easy story. Either way, I’m worried it will completely miss on the spirit of the original (a problem that so many adaptations run into). In order for this film to get The Watchmen right, it would need to deconstruct the super hero movie genre, rather than just perpetuate it. This could mean a number of things—purposely turning the movie inward toward character exploration, use of special effects as a critique of special effects, commentary on the absurdity of costumed vigilante justice, intentional parallels and contrasts with the comic book medium—but it probably doesn’t mean giving Dr. Manhattan killer abs and sexing up the Silk Spectre.
It’s interesting that The Watchmen movie will be coming out just a year after The Dark Knight pushed the super hero movie into full-fledged big “f’ legit Film territory by doing a lot of the work that The Watchmen did for graphic novels. Hopefully the film version can live up to the original’s high standards and the ridiculously high expectations set by fanboys like me.