Adapting to Watchmen


Another distressing dispatch from a distressed reader:

Hey P.Money,

I’m really worried about the Watchmen film. It’s one of my favorite books and I’ve been dreading this adaptation ever since I heard about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder’s 300, but this is Watchmen. The benchmark by which all other comics are judged. Like many other comic fans, I’m not at all convinced that a single, feature length film can do this series justice. I don’t want to come off as one of those guys who gets bitter when his favorite obscure band suddenly gets attention from the in-crowd. But that’s sort of how I feel. I don’t want to be a fanboy about it, but I feel protective of this book. So, as much as I want to be excited about all this fuss, I’m just plain worried. Any thoughts on this?   

Sincerely,
Vikram Composite

Vikram,

Simply put, we’re gonna be okay. If I don’t share your concerns in this particular case, I certainly understand them. There is a Kavalier and Clay adaptation out there in limbo after all. I wear my own anxiety like a tell-tale heart on my sleeve. But, Vikram, we’re gonna be okay. 

I don’t want to make any sweeping generalizations (which, of course, means I’m about to) but if there’s one trait common to comic readers it’s passion. We’re really the stuff of smutty Harlequin romance covers. We’re wired such that we’re prone to hyperbole, both positively bubbling and grimly vindictive. And it’s not all talk either. Not just figures of speech. It’s real-live joy and dread. Gets us in trouble a lot. But it’s the price we pay for our insight and all the pleasure we glean from words and pictures. Passion’s volatile. It’s the most exciting brand of inevitable destruction we’ve ever come up with. Fun while it lasts, but it often ends badly. We can get possessive and bitter and spiteful. 

Let’s go with possessive, which is harmless enough. I love some of my books. I played no part in their production. I just consumed them. Bought them, read them, cherish them always. And while I suppose it’s possible that a book can be objectively flawless, it’s mostly a subjective thing. Chemistry between certain passages and me. It’s about mutual insight at the right time and place. The sacred connection you might have with a song on the car radio that sparks off countless memories. Barbecues, near-drownings, bad dates, bad hair, dead pets, fireworks, suns up and suns down. What every good artist strives for however intangibly. Two paper cups connected by an endless length of string, no slack left to give and the feeble hope that some kind of kin is listening and nodding and getting it. Communication. 

That’s what Watchmen is for many people. We share in the mutual getting of it. A secret society branded with brain-dead smiley-face pins. The comic book icthus. We’re part of it. We own it. And now there’s gonna be teenagers dragging dates to it. People will be texting during our favorite scenes. Awkward teenagers awkwardly waiting and thinking about the shit in the back of their cars and the impression in their wallet and getting a different sort of it. Because movies, for many, are disposable entertainment. Something passive and glossy. Not active and alive and rewarding like our book. We think about people and their expectations. We know they’re going to dismiss it, actually be disappointed if it’s not the mindless thrill ride they’ve come to expect. It comes down to the idea that people, countless people, are going to experience it and not appreciate it as we have. That they’re going to pick up the paper cup and not hear anything. Either because the string was cut in the process of adaptation or because these people, these countless people, are all deaf. 

And what does that make us look like? There’s no winning. 

I won’t vouch for or speculate to the adaptation’s quality and not simply because I’m out of the loop. Thing is, I don’t believe the success or failure of the film is the paramount issue for discussion. Vital here is the question as to whether an adaptation can taint our enjoyment of that which came before it. Does it cheapen it? 

Good news. It can’t. Or it shouldn’t. 

The pill to swallow looks like this. Adaptation isn’t just translation. It’s transformation. What works for novels and comics doesn’t always translate to screen. Watchmen‘s special because it’s innately graphical. It’s a comic book. It’s not filmic, which we can say about a lot of comic books. There’s nothing wrong with a comic book emulating cinematic presentation, but there’s also an opportunity in comic books to tell a story in a fashion that can only be achieved through sequential art on a page. Just as there are things we can only muster in novels and movies and songs and paintings and any other form of media. Anyone arguing that Watchmen is an objectively precise comic, even the quintessential comic, is absolutely right. But I don’t think attempting to adapt it for the screen is a sure and certain recipe for disaster. For my money, it’s an opportunity to deconstruct the superhero film just as the comic deconstructed superhero comics. Last year saw some of the best comic book movies to date. This year is as good a time as any to reevaluate what we’re seeing in such films. It goes beyond that, but it’s start enough I think. The thing to remember is that adaptation relies on cosmetic changes, and that often extends to some of our favorite details. But the essence ought to remain true. It’s not the same and it shouldn’t be. The purpose of an adaptation isn’t to clone, but to apply the thesis to a new set of circumstances and to spread the message to new audiences who might not have experienced it otherwise. Again though, whether Snyder pulls it off remains (at the time of this writing) to be seen. Are you prepared to cope with either outcome? 

Thing is, no film adaptation, however shoddy, is not a world devastator. It’s not the Nothing or his dark agent Gmork, ravaging the realm of our imagination. We can revisit the source material and hold it sacred. If our devotion to it runs that deep, nothing should tarnish the luster. Adaptation is another animal, and it is our prerogative whether or not to give it our attention, our appreciation, our admiration. The film fails or succeeds on its own. Don’t let that retroactively inform something so strong as your connection to a work of art.   

Here’s my advice. If you don’t see any point in an adaptation and if you’re resolute in that, skip the movie and try something else. But if you’re curious, give it a shot. Go with friends. Make a night of it. Discuss it. If it’s good, you’re golden. If it’s not, figure out why. Get a bite to eat. Do something fun. Don’t let it ruin your night or your book or your memories. Unless you’re the producer, a bad movie’s not worth spoiling your good time. Don’t let it. Don’t throw out the bathwater. There’s a baby in there.

 

 


Paul Montgomery is not going to let his hatred of Billy Crudup ruin what could well be a lovely evening.  Contact him at paul@ifanboy.com. You can also find him on Twitter.

 

Comments

  1. already got my IMAX midnight tickets

  2. My own concerns echo Vikram’s and there’s another part of the worry that I don’t think you addressed here Paul.

    I’m not really worried that the movie will cheapen the comic at all actually. I’m more worried that this movie was made for the wrong reasons. Was there ever any effort to translate the Mona Lisa into another media? Or Michelangelo’s David? What about Citizen Kane, where’s the comic book adaption of that? The reason these were never made into something totally alien to the original, was because there’s no profitability. Why can’t they just leave a debatably flawless work of art be?

    I guess my point is that this is a precursor to a dark time for the relationship between comics and film. Notice I didn’t precede that sentence with "if the movie doesn’t adapt the comic faithfully". It won’t. It can’t. The signs are already there with comics not getting a second issue (Pretty Baby Machine) because they’ve been optioned for a movie, why should we let film legitimize comics?

    "Oh, let’s make a movie, then it will actually count! F$%@ the comic book readers, what do they know?"

    I have much more to say, but I’ll save it for another post, since my lunch break is now over.

  3. I was feeling good until I read this, Paul;) Thanks for making me worry now heh.

  4. @ActualButt – You’ve obviously never seen Mona Lisa Smile

  5. Mightnight Imax showing at Lincon Center =D

  6. Here’s the thing.  I think a great deal of art is produced to make money.  People need to eat.  But that doesn’t mean a paid commission can’t be done artfully, thoughtfully, even passionately.  Good or bad, the movie sold an insane number of Watchmen graphic novels.  I just don’t see a detriment here.  

  7. I’m looking forward to it.  I’ll likely be going with several friends who read the book because I gave it to them after they were interested in the book because of the trailer.  I can’t see how that’s a bad thing.

    Re: doing it for the money — there are good and bad sides of this but, honestly, if it means more option money going to creators so they can support themselves while doing the work they love best, I’m all for it.  Obviously, that’s not the only consequence but it’s one potential positive.

  8. Except Alan Moore isn’t seeing a dime for this, I’m sure. The $ is going to Warner Bros. isn’t it?

  9. For me its not so much that people will see it and not get it. Its that they will see it and think they are getting something when in fact they are missing so much.

    I’m with Alan Moore on this, spitting white hot venom at hollywood.

  10. @Simmons  – Well that’s pretty much the same thing. Thing is, how does it hurt your experience?  Why get frazzled over it?  Not to presume that you’re losing sleep over it, but it does bother many people.  And needlessly so.  

  11. @ActualButt-Moore chose not to receive money or credits for the film, so you can’t really be upset at anyone else for that.

    I’m not getting too beat up about this.  If it sucks, it sucks.  If its good, its good.  Let the film makers try to do it.  Mark Millar said it best in an interview.  Paraphrasing, but when asked whether a movie (I think it was a 3rd FF) should be made or not, he said it should be made.  Because if no movie is made, then there is no chance for it to be a good movie.  It might suck, but at least they tried.  Where as if you just insist that they leave it alone and don’t fuck with "your" story, well then we miss out on something special.

    Let it be friends, let it be

  12. I got into this discussion last night, and after some thought I have come to the conclusion that the point of any work of art regardless of the medium, is to be experienced. When I see a photograph of the Mona Lisa it enables me to experience that work of art that I otherwise don’t have the opprtunity to experience first hand. If that photograph so inspires me, I can then choose to go experience the original in a more profound way. Unfortunately for some, a movie is the only way for them to experience what Watchmen is really about. If the film does it’s job, it entices people to see the original work and gain the pure, intended experience. If they are not so inclined then they probably wouldn’t feel as strongly about the source material in the first place. The fact that someone profits from the translation should not disqualify it’s relevance.

  13. @Actual — Not talking about Moore specifically (though Dave Gibbons is getting paid for this and certainly deserves to be).  But I was talking about how, generally, more money in comic book movies leads to more movie options and more money going to creators in general.

  14. I can’t wait. i’m excited.  I think the best part of it, Is that it is giving lots of recognition to the book.  Since the trailer was released, I have borrowed out my copy of watchmen to 2 diffrent people.  I wouldn’t be worried, if the movie doesn’t meet your expectations at least the comic will always be there to fall back on.  Liek Paul said go with some friends.  I’m probably going to go with a bunch of friends who think it looks badass yet haven’t read the book and i’m excited for the car ride afterwards because I will already have that insight of knowing the source material so well.  almost(hopefully) like sitting and watching Star Wars with someone that hasn’t seen it before

  15. I showed my wife an awesomely awkward clip of Rorschach and Dan Dreiberg talking about their "friendship".  My wife says, "Those actors seem to have no idea what they are doing.  That was the most awkward scene I have ever seen." (She is a fan of hyperbole.)

    I then explained to her that Rorschach is an extremely emtionally stunted individual and that Dan Dreiberg is the most pitiful man in the world when not in Night Owl "mode."  We then rewatched the clip and she said, "Those are the two best actors I have ever seen.  That scene make ME squirm for them."

    I am afraid that the majority of people attending the film (including critics) are going to have the reaction my wife had without my background info.  Unless the film does an excellent job conveying just how "damaged" these individuals are, before throwing the audience into scenes like this, the film will not do well.  Too many people are going into this expecting The Dark Knight 2.

  16. If this movie had been made 10 or 15 years ago we’d have a problem, but it can hardly be denied that everything in the trailers has been true to form. I’m totally looking forward to it. Got out IMAX tickets la fin de semana pasada.

  17. Great column sir, excellent work. Really captured how I and I’m sure many others feel about the medium of comics.

  18. Mark Millar already saw it and was dissappointed.  And he’s a huge Watchmen fan.

    I don’t even like the comic, with all it’s preachiness.  And slow motion in cinema freaking fails, and this movie is going to be 3 hours of slow motion.

  19. I am not worried about this film in the slightest…..Okay that is a lie. I am worried as hell about this. But it’s not gonna hurt my view of the film. Come on, this is the 4th Alan Moore adaptation and we know what the previous 3 were like. There’s a good chance this will suck and it wont be too surprising if you’ve seen LXG, V for Vendetta, or From Hell. No one at the moment can seem to make a Moore book filmable.

    But I have read the ‘Art of Watchmen’ and the Film Companion and I have to say…..Synder and the rest of the crew have tried to be precised with the original GN as possible. The sets look close to the source, most of the scenes look pretty much straight from the GN, the only thing that looks like is fully changed is the ending. To be honest, if the ending is changed, then it doesnt matter to me. As long as the philosophy of Ozy is intact and the reason why Ozy does this to the planet then no matter what he uses I’ll be happy with it.

    So, like Dark Knight, I am worried as hell about this film….But I have a very very strong opinion this is gonna be more good then awful.

  20. @kickass – I’m thinking you should probably just save your money and not see this movie.  It doesn’t sound like there’s one aspect of this movie that you would enjoy.

  21. I think the movie will be ok. But, I can’t help but feel that if the movie had a better director it could be a real piece of art, and not just a fun piece of escapism. I just wish Greengrass got to make the movie.

  22. Yuppers, I’m going 2 c it at IMAX Thursday nite into Friday morning (March 4/5th) at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.  So if there are any cute girls that wanna sit next to me and make out, just let me know cuz I’m single still.

  23. @Simmons hit it dead on.

  24. I’ll see it just to bash it.  I hear that’s part of the fun, right?!  We won’t all like it.

  25. P Money to the rescue. Thank you very much for reassuring me!! I am going Thurs night to Fri monring 5/6 with some friends. THANK YOU PAUL!! your reassurance puts me at rest. (ps thats not sarcasm but sincerity). w0rd

  26. I think the worst thing the movie could do (if it’s crap) is turn off potential readers from the book like what happened with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where if you mention the book to somebody who only saw the movie, you’re spending a ridiculous amount of time convincing them that the book isn’t the biggest piece of crap to ever grace humanity. Personally, I don’t think Watchmen is the greatest comic ever made so I’m not particularly invested in how the movie’s going to do.

    Then again, people are already buying the book in droves (I saw it being sold at Blockbuster the other day… Blockbuster!) so maybe it’s all good either way for Watchmen.  Either way, Dave Gibbons never has to work a day in his life ever again, it’s looking like.  So, good for him.

  27. I think if my opinion mattered at all, my hope would be that good movie or bad movie it makes people want to read the book.  If it’s great I hope people will want to read the book to learn about all the extra things that didn’t make the cut.  The Squid,  the Black Freighter, etc.  If it’s bad, I would hope they would still be willing try the book and learn what could have been.

    On the downside, if it’s great and people then want to ignore the book, that’s too bad.  Because they’d really be missing out.  As well as if it’s awful and then impossible to turn them onto the book and all it has to offer, as well as comics in general, then that would be terrible.

    I don’t need a literal adaptation, just be true to the book and what it’s trying to say.

  28. It’s going to kill the books legacy, no doubt.  After a frame by frame movie adaptation, there’s absolutely no reason to read the comic.  Unlike Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. that give you many different stories.  I know this is going to disappoint.

  29. I’m sick of comic elitist getting all pissy about comic book movies.  just watch it and if you don’t like it you don’t have to ever watch it again.  So many people are bitching about this movie without seeing it first.

  30. The modern Psycho remake didn’t ruin the legacy of the original.  

  31. Because of the altered ending, I’m already going into the theater with low expectations.  Therefore, I can easily be blown away, or leave going "yup, just as expected".

    Talk to me when the Extreme Uncut Special Edition of the DVD comes out.  I want to see alternative endings, The Black Freighter spliced into the movie, etc.

  32. I followed @dandoody’s link and read a sentence in the review that sent my blood into a boil. The reviewer, who claims he is well-versed in the source material, says the ending is "improved". Improved?!? Why the f*%@ was it changed?!? He also says that 95% of the words and ideas are Alan Moore’s. IT SHOULD BE 100% ALAN MOORE’S OR IT FAILS!

  33. The Psycho remake ruined the original simply because it was made, but still, at least that was movie to movie, not comic to movie.

  34. The inherent danger in adapting Watchmen is this…

    The lasting impression it has of MILLIONS of people.

    If the adaptation is poor than something of actual intellectual value, the Watchmen comic, will be reduced in the popular opinion to the level of Speed Racer or The Matrix. That is terrible.

    The only response: increased misanthropy

  35. @edward – really? So every bad adaptation of Shakespeare has reduced the popular opinion of Shakespeare? Every bad Jane Austen adaptation sends college professors to the boiler room with stacks of Austen novels?

  36. When I watch the original Psycho, it shows no abuse from the remake.  An adaptation can not ruin the source material upon which it is based.  It can be better.  It can be worse.  But it can’t change the original.  

    Anyone with the capacity to enjoy Watchmen the book will check it out.  No one with the capacity to appreciate it is going to avoid it because of the film.  People are suggesting that there is a kind of uninitiated person who would love Watchmen, but only if this film either surpasses expectation or doesn’t happen.  I just don’t believe that this hypothetical person exists.  Sorry, but I’m just not that jaded or cynical.  It’s a condescending presumption that all people are all idiots and won’t be able to look at book and film as two individual entities.  For those who can’t wrap their head around that very simple concept, they’re not going to appreciate the book anyway.  

  37. For me, this is very simple. Watchmen sits proudly on my shelf. Unless Warner Brothers enacts a campaign to break into my house, hit my butler over the head with a candlestick, and replace my copy of Watchmen with a Blu-Ray disc of "Zack Snyder’s Watchmen," I have no fears about this movie. At its best, it may be a fun, well-made variation on Watchmen. At its worst, it could be Sean Connery’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  But neither of those products will change the content or integrity of the original novel, nor its status at the top of many mainstream critics’ lists.

  38. Ironically, I wasn’t terribly interested in seeing the movie until I learned the ending was changed.

  39. @Tork – Because the change makes the adaptation worthwhile?  Something different for comparison?  That’s how I look at it.  It could be better or worse, but either way it’s something to discuss.  

  40. I’ve heard nothing but great things from the people that have seen the film (Err, well, Kevin Smith and Wil Wheaton, I don’t know anyone else who has seen it..) and I at least find Wilw to be pretty forthcoming when he doesn’t like stuff. I already know the ending is at least slightly altered and that doesn’t, in itself, bother me. I don’t care if "millions of people" see the movie and "don’t get it" or "think they get it but are really missing so much" or any nonsense like that – How pretentious can some people be?

    My local theater wasn’t selling midnight showing tickets yesterday, the woman said to come back on Friday, so I’m going to and get an ticket for the imax screen. If I don’t like it then I don’t like it. If I do like it, that’s all that matters. Either way I’m super pumped for it.

     

  41. @daccampo. You think so? your agreement about Shakespeare makes no sense.

    Because that comes down to the fact that there a multiple adaptation of Shakespeare plays, not one single adaptation which is the case with watchmen movie.

    And using Shakespeare as an example in a literary discussion is like using the nazi in a first year university debate about politics. It turns the points of the debate into absolutes, completely removing the various set of circumstance around each topic

    And I’m just going to throw in some question marks for good measure???

  42. When you use one art form to inspire another you must make changes to make it a viable work of art.  To adapt the graphic novel, Watchmen, the filmmakers made thousands of artistic choices to make it viable as a film.  For instance, they chose to make it in live action, they chose to make the characters move, they chose to use a single frame on the screen instead of dividing it into many panels and they changed some of the action, the dialogue and the story.  Their goal was to make a good film, not a perfect adaptation.

     

    WB made the movie in the hopes of making money.  That doesn’t take away from the artistry, good or bad, of the filmmakers.  Alan Moore wrote Watchmen for money.  He had a great story to tell but if DC wasn’t going to pay him it wouldn’t have been written.  If DC didn’t "interfere" with his creativity, it would’ve featured the Charlton comic characters instead of his originals.  

    The movie has done a fantastic service to the work of Alan Moore by bringing a huge new audience to the graphic novel.   Not everyone will pick up the comic after seeing the movie but then most didn’t pick up Jaws, The DaVinci Code or Grisham’s novels after seeing their adaptations.  So what?

     Side note:  I read Watchmen in issues as it came out with a half dozen other writers, artists and animators.  Just about all of us were let down by the scheme of Ozymandias which we had already enjoyed on Outer Limits.  Everything else was golden.  So for me, I’m not upset at a new scheme.

     

  43. I agree with @Paul wholeheartedly on this one. There are those making claims that this movie shouldn’t be made because it was already a perfect piece of art. As one who considers himself an artist, I’m going to tell you that’s crap! There is nothing perfect, and if you don’t find blemish with an art piece, then the artist who created always will. That is the sad truth. That doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, though.
    I, like Paul saw the remake of Psycho and detested it. I studied Hitchcock, have books about his filmaking, just watched Strangers on A Train the other day, so it should of ruined me…it didn’t. I know the difference, and see his touch on his movie. I’m actually interested that the attempt was made or that there is a book coming out called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…it’s fun, it’s interesting, it has potential to fail, but will never make me drop a book or forget why I love any medium I love. Just go with the flow, folks!

  44. Almost Famous alone should make it impossible to hate Billy Crudup.

     

  45. Great article.  I am trying not to think about this movie too much.  However, many people have been asking me about Watchmen.  After, V for Vendetta I lent out my trade a lot to friends that were curious.  If 5% of the people that see this movie become comic fans, then it was a success to me.  Comics need new readers to survive.  And those new readers need to be in their teens.  Hell, I started collecting comics because of Tim Burton’s Batman.

  46. Well done.

    I do wonder about the prevalance of adations today, be they adaptions of history or of prexsisting media. While I agree that there is a definite craft involved in adaptions, recasting a thesis as you say, I guess I prefer "orginial" screenplays and I am saddened that adaptions seem to monopolizing the financial dramtic sucesss stories right now.

    But then all art is an adaption of life. And the circle is completr!

  47. My only real concern with this film is the acting. We have seen very little full scenes for the film, which is good because there hasnt been much spoilings going around for it….But it’s bad because we dont know how overall the acting is gonna be.

    Set designs, special effects, and anything attention to detail looks almost perfect in those regards. But acting I dont know shit about.

  48. I’d like for those of you who are violently opposed to the mere idea of this film to help me establish a profile.  We’re looking to pin down this hypothetical person, uninitiated in the Watchmen experience, seeing this film before reading the book.  This person you believe has the capacity to appreciate the book, but is so befuddled that he or she has evaded any knowledge of its existence or, if they do know about it, are unable to separate it from the film.  

    This group (because it is a demographic, apparently) seems very dangerous because, as you have suggested, it is group of taste-makers. They are idiots, staggering around blindly and stupidly.  But they are also, if I’m to understand this correctly, leaders of men.  They decide the legacy of books written decades, centuries before.  But if only they’d read the book, because they have the capacity to love it just as much as we do.  Because they’re idiot savant zombies.  

    Really try and think about this hypothetical person you’re arguing both for and against.  If they’re even plausible, is there really any way to appease them.  These idiots who can’t tell the difference between a book and a movie, can’t weigh them on their own as individual properties, but who would also, also, be able to glean any kind of satisfaction out of the original?  

    There are people who will appreciate the book, and they are savvy.  They are not imbeciles.  They will find the book or you will help them find it because we seem to find each other.  There are people who won’t appreciate the book and it doesn’t matter if this movie succeeds nineteen different ways.  

    The movie has sold countless books. It can’t unsell them.  It’s a cliche for a reason.  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.      

  49. @DaveCarr – We can’t create something out of nothing.  Creation isn’t about producing something out of thin air.  It’s about utilizing the elements at hand to solve a problem.  Or in this case, tell a story.  One of my favorite comics is The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.  It’s a breath of fresh air, and it’s composed just about entirely by musty old characters from the 1800s.  It’s a game of chess.  Genius isn’t in the pieces you use.  But in how you move them.  

  50. @Paul– That’s part of it.  I don’t have as strong an emotional attachment to the source material as a lot of other people do, so I wasn’t jazzed to see an exact translation of something I’ve already seen and didn’t absolutely love.  So, seeing something a little different at least piques my curiosity.  Also, I wasn’t in love with the ending of the book, so telling me they’ve tweaked it just a little even from a standpoint of plot mechanics, I’m at least interested with what they do with it.  I was never particularly digging the giant squid idea so telling me it’s something else has me interested.  It’s not like if it sucks, all the books we’ve bought and read will spontanously combust.

  51. I think Tad and Tork raise a really good point.  We acknowledge that Watchmen is a really thoughtful and important book, but is it infallible?  In all honesty, I’ve been pulling punches because, though this is far from my favorite book, I know that a lot of people hold it sacred.  I think overall it is an astonishingly well crafted comic with several moments or true genius.  But I wasn’t in love with that ending either.  In fact it breaks a lot of rules I have learned and am inclined to agree with.  

    So, if you’re mad about the changes, ask yourself if you’re angry about a narrative element being ruined or if it’s just that it’s different.  There’s a big difference.   

  52. Two of my favorite literary things during college (Watchmen and the Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy) are now movies.

    I loved Hitchhiker the movie.  I thought it captured the feel of the books.   But, most people just didn’t get it.  The planned sequel was shelved (when has Disney ever done this before?).  

    I expect my Watchmen experience to be similar.  I expect to love it and be surrounded by people that don’t get it. 

    I think anyone that reads the book before seeing the movie has a different experience, whether it is Harry Potter, Twilight, Interview with a Vampire, V for Vendetta, or Watchmen.  I just glad I read the book.

  53. @Paul: What rules were broken when the squid came in? Granted I agree that it doesnt matter what the hell kills half of NYC at the end….but I was fine with the original ending just as much as anyone was when you first read it.

  54. @TNC – Not the squid exactly.  Just the plot reveal.  Too late in the game.  Too neat.  It’s not all that great of a mystery.  

  55. @Paul: You mean Ozy saying ‘I did it thirty-five minutes ago’ line? What are you talking about? That was a great moment.

    Here you think the heroes are going to save the day but then harsh reality sits in and we all realize that the heroes were too late from the start. That is what most likely would happen anyways in real life; the bad guy getting away with it before getting turned in or not getting turned in at all.

  56. Personally I’m excited for the movie.  At the end of the day if the movie is bad it won’t take away my personal enjoyment of the graphic novel. I’m also excited at the fact that my brother who didn’t enjoy the comic is giving it another shot after he sees the movie. Bad or Good the movie is gonna cause a lot of people to run down to their bookstores and buy the graphic novel.

  57. It’s a cool line.  I just didn’t feel the weight that might have been intended.  I dunno. 

  58. Keep in mind Paul, Psycho was a novel first. And the novel was an "adaptation" of Ed Gein’s killings. Anyway, the Gus Van Sant Psycho was not an adaptation. It was a recast replication in color. Same lines, same camera angles, etc. Besides we’re talking about adapting from one medium to another. Film remakes of pre-existing films are totally off topic.

    This whole thing also speaks to my frustration with the film industry and the lack of original ideas. I love movies almost as much as I love comics, but virtually every movie that’s come out has been based on a comic, a tv show, a book, or it’s been a sequel or a remake. But that’s neither here nor there.

    @edward is right about Shakespeare. Also, it is taught to most of us at an early age that Shakespeare is good shit. I actually don’t think that many people truly have that much reverence for the plays, and that unless a film adaptation of Shakespeare deviates from the original in a big way, it’s going to do horribly in the theater. Keep in mind, Watchmen is a contemporary work. Comparing it to Shakespeare does not apply.

    @TheNextChampion – I would LOVE to see full scenes, instead of just slow mo "hey-it-looks-just-like-the-book" shots with Smashing Pumpkins dropped in. Spoil away! I’ve read the book!

    The absolute best thing this movie could do is LOOK like the book and speak the dialogue. Nothing more. And there’s so much more to be done. Too much for even a five hour movie, let alone one half that length.

  59. @ActualButt – I don’t quite understand. You’re frustrated with the inundation of screen adaptations (as opposed to original material), but your ideal adaptation is an exact carbon copy of the source?

  60. @Actual: You know I was reading the Art of the Film and they had a lot of storyboard sketches….and there seemed to be an awful lot of them saying ‘slow-mo’ on them….That isnt a good sign. Of course it could just be for the action shots, plus the soundtrack is actually more specific to the era it’s in so I could just be worried for nothing.

    @Paul: It didnt give you weight, that’s fine I can deal with. But only the words ‘holy shit’ comes to mind when we’ve read a huge novel in itself with Ozy speaking to Dan and Walter about his plan, having the same feeling as Nite-Owl that he is just insane and nothing else, then Ozy delivering the infamous line, then the next couple of pages is nothing but splash pages of bloody corpses everywhere….That to me brought enough weight for the entire book, and all I just mentioned was about maybe 10-15 pages worth of the actual book.

    Another thing I am worried about is, are the scenes of Rorschach’s and Manhatten’s origins gonna be played exactely to the book? I dont know if audiences can handle a scene with Manhatten narrating a huge chunk of the film out of no where.

  61. @TheNextChampion – but that’s like the coin toss chances thing. You can get tails all the time, but the next toss still has a 50 50 chance. Having crappy adaptations before it does not change the odds.

     

     

  62. @Paul, if I didn’t make it clear in an earlier post on this page, I didn’t at any point say that I would prefer a carbon copy of the source. You’re assuming that I’m saying that because it’s being changed, it’ll be bad. I’m saying that it can only be bad, regardless of how much, or how little they change. My ideal adaptation is that there would be no adaptation. Leave art be. Let the art speak for itself in its own context as intended.

  63. I love the stupid book but I wish people would stop implying that because they read it and presumably a lot of the moviegoers will not have they won’t be able to understand or appreciate the film version.

  64. @ActualButt – Sorry, I misconstrued your closing paragraph.  I see merit in some adaptations, but I understand your opinion.  I just don’t think it can really cause much harm.  Great art makes an impact.  Bad art doesn’t even land.  So it can’t hurt much of anything in my opinion.  All I’m saying is that people shouldn’t let something they don’t like ruin their day.  Not worth getting wound up over.  

  65. @ActualButt – and other media don’t borrow? Watchmen used a device already in place in a lot of different media, which is the fear of aliens that gets people to come together supposedly. Arthur C. Clarke’s "Childhood’s End" that came out in 1953 spring to mind… Watchmen came out in in 1987.

  66. I don’t let the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie ruin my enjoyment of the book.  People seriously let this get to them., as if they are bigger fans than the rest of us because they don’t want their artwork touched.  Just get over it.  If you don’t support it, than don’t watch it. 

  67. @ActualButt – Isn’t art meant to inspire…That’s obviously what it did for someone and this movie is being made, for better or worse. I still don’t think it’ll be a boon to either medium. You say you are tired of adaptations because of lack of original ideas. Give me an original idea that is borrowed, so we can call it a day. Even Tolkien’s inspiration and story of The Hobbit came from being inspired by the Beowulf, and that doesnt hurt the story for me. So, again, I say enjoy what enjoy and let art speak to people as it will.

  68. This is all really ironic, too, because Moore’s original intent was to tell this story with licensed characters and was directed to cannibalize them into new, original characters. The man’s career is sort of centered on reinterpretation.  It’s not direct adaptation, but he certainly isn’t ‘leaving art be.’  And I don’t think you should let art be.  Art’s active, not passive.  

  69. @ActualButt: I also have to correct you on a statement. You said:

    ‘would LOVE to see full scenes, instead of just slow mo "hey-it-looks-just-like-the-book" shots with Smashing Pumpkins dropped in.’

    When you should be saying:

    ‘I would LOVE to see full scenes, instead of just slow mo "hey-it-looks-just-like-the-book" shots with Smashing Pumpkins, and Muse, and My Chemical Romance dropped in’ 🙂

  70. @TheNextChampion, I also have to correct you on a statement. You said:

    "‘I would LOVE to see full scenes, instead of just slow mo "hey-it-looks-just-like-the-book" shots with Smashing Pumpkins, and Muse, and My Chemical Romance dropped in’ :)"

    When you should be saying:

    "‘I would LOVE to see full scenes, instead of just slow mo "hey-it-looks-just-like-the-book" shots with Smashing Pumpkins, and Muse, and My Chemical Romance dropped in’. 🙂 "

    A smiley is not equal to a period (full stop). Even though a smiley can show us the writer’s emotions, it still can’t end a sentence. Now go home and get your fuckin’ shinebox. 🙂

  71. @chlop:……Touche….

  72. Let’s keep it topical, okay?  

  73. An original movie is not inherently better than a movie based on a historical incident, a biography, or a piece of writing.  Originality does not equal quality.  And the writer who bases his work on something else, like a book, or a comic or Charlton comic characters is no less of an artist than the guy who stares at a blank page and comes up with something.

    And many people, probably not comic fans but people who have read Watchmen, will like the movie better than the book.   They will not be "wrong," it will just be a matter of their taste. 

  74. I think it’s more important to know what non-comic fans think of the film.

    Like Dark Knight, I doubt the $1 billion was just by the comic book fans alone. If the film turns out to be great or gets great revenue it’s up to the non-comic fans to provide how popular or revelent this film is gonna be.

    But I still stress what I said earlier, presentation and acting makes the film. So far the presentation for this looks incredible, but the acting is still a huge question mark.

  75. Tad made one bad ass statement that I totally dig and agree with.  I tip my hat to you sir.  Although it will be hard for me to not lose my cool if I ever do encounter someone who says they prefer the movie over the book.   I will try though.

  76. @edward – OK, first, saying my argument makes "no sense" is not actually a valid counter-argument.  Neither do extra question marks. 😉 Saying that there are multiple adaptations of Shakespeare is a good counter-point. I’ll address that one:

    There was a first film adaptation of a Shakespeare play or Austen novel, wasn’t there?

    Well, this is the first adaptation of Watchmen. 

    The analogy holds. Your view is myopic. You’re taking the first adaptation of a particular graphic novel. There is no evidence to support your theory that bad adapted product leads to ANYTHING. 

    Also: @ActualButt — I see your point that you’re taught from an early age that Shakespeare is good stuff, but guess what? Anyone who hears about Watchmen before seeing the movie is ALSO taught that Watchmen is good stuff. It was on (I think) Time’s list of best novels (not graphic novels) of all timel, wasn’t it? Doesnt’ get much more mainstream than that.

    Back on point: People seem to have some sort of belief that a bad adaptation will somehow lessen the work. I’d like to see one example of a movie lessening the impact of a literary or comics work.

    Even League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did not HURT Alan Moore’s book.  It can’t. That impact is impossible to measure. You can only measure a positive increase in sales, and Watchmen has already accomplished that. If there were no movie, they wouldn’t have bought the book anyway. So, with a movie in place… if even 1 in 10,000 people actually liked the movie enough to check out the source material, that’s still a positive. 

    Can someone provide an example of how a film hurt a literary work? I’m honestly asking. I can’t think of an example.

  77. I have never read the novel, Jaws.

    There, I said it.

  78. When production finished on the From Hell movie, my copy of the book melted… I keed!

    King Kong circa 1933 is considered one of the best movies of all time, worthy of AFI consideration if that means anything to anyone.  King Kong circa 2005 is one of the most bloated, ridiculously cheesy pieces of film I’ve seen in recent years (and I saw Speed Racer!) and the 1978 version isn’t much better.  Nevertheless, the 1933 movie?  Still golden.  Heck, two years after Adrian Brody body-checked a raptor, the original Kong slid up two spaces in the AFI listing (again, if that means anything to you.) We’re gonna be okay, people.  We’re gonna be okay.

  79. And apparently the book Jurassic Park is quite different from the movie.  Damned if I care.  I loved and memorized every part of that movie when I was a kid and have no intentions of ever reading the book. 

  80. I think it’s also important to remember that even if the movie’s bad, you know at least 50% of those bad reviews are going to mention how lauded the book is and what Zack Snyder or David Hayer did to mess everything up.  I know that just about every negative review I read of V for Vendetta: the Movie mentioned the quality of the book.  If anything, a bad adaptation in reference to its source is, at worst, a missed opportunity to add something to the established mythos.  If it’s good, that’s awesome.  If it’s bad, in another five to ten years, nobody’ll remember it enough to care, anyway, while the good book remains.

  81. For crying out loud, I’m not talking about "borrowing". If someone made a comic book about a series of shark attacks because they were inspired by JAWS, they wouldn’t put "Based on the movie (or novel) JAWS in the credits. I’m not talking about inspiriation or borrowing. I’m talking about transportation of a property like From Hell, or No Country For Old Men. If the character Van Wilder was in some way inspired by Holden Caulfield, fine, but the movie wasn’t called "National Lampoon’s Catcher in the Rye". Get it?

    @daccampo – When I say that Shakespeare is taught to us as great works, I mean that it’s literally part of the curriculuum in virtually every school. Not that people say it’s good.

    @Tad – I’m not saying that original work is always BETTER than adapted material. I’m not saying that "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is better than "Milk" because it wasn’t based on historical events, or better than "The Secret Life of Bees" because it wasn’t based on a book. I’m saying that I’d rather experience that material in its original media and context when possible.

    Seriously, read what I say before you respond to it, don’t just skim over words and pick out what pisses you off.

  82. And Paul, what I mean by "let art be" is, "let art speak for itself". If Zack Snyder wanted to tell a Watchmen-esque story with those archetypal characters, great, let him, but the movie is called "Watchmen". The character Nite Owl is in the movie as Nite Owl. In the comic, Blue Beetle was REPLACED by Nite Owl, The Question by Rorshach, etc. However, there are enough differences between Moore’s characters and the legacy characters that make them their own. Again there is a line between inspiration and transportation that I don’t think people are seeing.

    @daccampo – It’s a misspoken belief that a bad film adaptation will hurt a book. Yes, the book stands on its own, always and forever. More commonly, the film hurts the fan of the book. But if you really want an example, how about every movie based on H. P. Lovecraft’s writing. Those movies completely change the perception of his work as one of the most intelligent and talented horror/suspense novelists of his time (and ours) into a writer of campy shlock.

  83. @daccampo: Again with the Shakespeare? A few points there, dude, listen up.

    We have critical distance of FOUR HUNDRED YEARS from Shakespeare. Shakespeare has become institutionalised within the English speaking world. Watchmen doesn’t stand comparison to it, not because of the merit of each piece of work but because of the culture both exist in – Basically it comes down to this specific example of an adaptation.

    Secondly, the universal acceptance of Shakespeare as quality make it different to Watchmen. This thread has been mostly about what the popular opinion of watchmen the comic will be after watchmen the movie comes out. This is because a very limited number of people have read the comic as apposed to Shakespeare which is TAUGHT in schools.

    Finally, bad adaptations do cause a negative light to be shone on the source material in the mainstream. Look at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I have intelligent, well read, literary friends who will never read the comic because the movie was a piece of shit.

    @chlop: I read Childhood’s End, I don’t see what it has to do with Watchmen. I not be pedantic, I’m just carious.

    @Josh: I watch jaws on telly last night. It’s not bad

  84. @Edward – Watchmen was taught at my university, and not just in a "graphic novels survey" course.  It was utilized in an Apocalypse class, a philosophy and media course.  The book is actually in the school store next to other text books and required reading.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Watchmen was taught at other schools as well.  

  85. @Edward, concerning the LXG thing with your friends. That’s really up to them.  I read LXG after seeing the awful movie, and really enjoyed it. Hell, the story isn’t even the same. Not reading it is kinda choosing ignorance in my mind. I think Paul makes a good point about the "imaginary demographic" of the people who see a movie and automatically dismiss the original source material.  All we have is anecdotal evidence of this kind of thing. I can tell you that the sub par Wanted movie had me lending out my copy to roughly a dozen friends, but that doesn’t really matter. I think it was daccampo who earlier said that a movie cannot negatively affect a book’s sales, only positively. There has been sub-par to awful adaptations of almost ever form of media to another media. They can only get the name out there. Did "Batman and Robin" kill batman comics or sales of the trades? Nope, still around, still selling old and new stories. Then again, it’s all anecdotal and we’re going around in circles until the movie comes out and we see the fallout.  Who knows, maybe my copy and all the ones that sold since the trailers dropped at the Dark Knight will go up in flames and the money will magically reappear in those peoples’ bank accounts. Manhattan could probably rig that one up for us.

  86. I can understand the aprehension that huge Watchmen fans have with this movie coming out. I felt the same way when Fellowship of the Ring was coming out. I was terrified that the movie was going to suck, and thankfully it exceeded my expecations. I think the important thing is not to review the movie as a word for word recreation of the the book, but as a interpretation of it. That is what made LOTR so damn good as it took oppurtunities to tell stories that were not in the book: Gandalf vs. the Balrog, Faramir and Boromir, The spirits under the mountian, etc..

    Hopefully this movie will give us a new slant on Watchmen, while honoring the book. I’ll be going to see this in IMAX, and I sure Ill enjoy it regardless.

  87. Here’s what really bothers me about a crappy Watchmen adaptation: Sometime in 2004, I decided to finally read Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I had heard good things and despite the horrible Horible HORRIBLE film adaptation, i thought i should give it a try. So im sitting in my living room reading the first volume and two of my roommates walk in and start just lambasting me for reading it. They just couldn’t seperate the god awful movie from the excellent comic. they couldn’t understand that this piece of art wasn’t anything like the cliched disaster of a movie. In fact, they just started tearing in comics in general, citing the film as being a a representation of how childish comic books really are. I tried and tried but they just wouldn’t listen to me when i told them the book is actually pretty sophisticated. They CANNOT let this happen to Watchmen. The book is not only my favorite comic but it’s in my top three favorite literary works of all time (number 3 actually). I don’t want to be made fun of for reading the best work of sequential art ever created. While i don’t think this film will be the next LXG, there’s is no way it will ever live up to the level of the source material and if it’s merely an adequate movie, I can’t stand to see the general public’s perception of Watchmen be based solely on an mediocre film. Watchmen should only be thought of as the work of art it is. 

  88. spoilers to Childhood’s End 

    @edward – people fight between them until an alien threat arrives and brings peace, and after a while destroyes the earth. That ‘if aliens arrive people will join forces to fight them" thing was in movies and books a long time ago. But it seems ActuaButt meant direct adaptation.

    And if your friends won’t read it, tough. If they can’t tell the difference between an adaptation and the original material, they’re losing.  I’m sure the comicbook will outlast the movie. 

    @ActualButt – Thanks for clarifying. Movies are usually made for a great deal of money and many lives are dependent on them, unlike a book. It has a limited time in which it can be shown in theaters and after that I guess in DVDs. Books are everywhere and people can pick them up and start reading without the need for a middle man – the DVD. They’ll have to have a DVD or computer with a DVD-ROM and they can’t pick it up straight away and see if it’s any good.

    They only have the box art. It’s less o a gamble when large sums of money are invested, to take a story that was successful and adapt it to the screen. If you want original movies, don’t search Hollywood who produces mainly movies for pure enjoyment for a lot of money. Look for smaller films like "Clerks" was or foreign.

    I won’t look for a book like "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" to arrive from a writer like J.K. Rowling. Why couldn’t he have left it alone? Maybe he wanted to show it to many people that would otherwise won’t read the comicbook, and he knew that it’s easy for people to invest an hour and a half in the weekend to see a movie and release themselves from the day to day stresses, or see it on TV when it will arrive to TV. I don’t know – I never asked him.

    If you want people to experience the comicbook, than talk to libraries about buying a lot of copies and putting them in the library. Loan your copy to people you know. I doubt you can do much more. The movie garnered interest in the comicbook which led to many sales of said comicbook which wouldn’t happen otherwise. There are a lot of books and comicbooks that besides a room on a shelf if they’re lucky, don’t get much exposure. An adaptation can say "There be good stuff" which it does even if the movie is crap. I discovered many books and some comicbooks because of adaptations.  The movie can’t take the "one of Time magazines 100 best novels from 1920 to 2005" thing on the cover of the comicbook. It can’t take away the money one of the creators made and that creator might decide to create more good stuff.

    The good outweighs the bad.  If people won’t give a book a chance before seeing a movie about it, you can say to then" a movie was released based on this comicbook, but read the comicbook first" – if they’re the type of people that having a movie based on it validates it.

    I never saw Blade Runner but I doubt that without it I would have gotten to read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" since I doubt it would have sold as much copies or would be translated to Hebrew. I don’t care that much that the book in the hebrew edition is called "Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)" if that means it will get translated to different languages and get more exposure.

    I don’t know to whom you directed the  "Seriously, read what I say before you respond to it, don’t just skim over words and pick out what pisses you off" – but I can tell you that if it was to me or partly to me, that I read this entire thread and not just skimmed it, and if I misunderstood you it’s my bad. As for being pissed off – I’m not. I’m hungry but I have some rice and shnitzels and that would be fixed very soon.

  89. @mikegraham6 – here’s a leaflet for the "screw the public congregation". Join us brother.

  90. @Mike – What matters is your experience with the book.  I don’t believe that these people who can’t separate the film from the book have the capacity to appreciate the book anyway.  Be zen about it.  Don’t worry about things you can’t control.  

    Also, it might be good that the LXG movie was terrible because it’s provided and opportunity to see who your true friends really are.  

  91. @mikegraham6 EVERYTHING is somebody’s favourite work, if people don’t want something they love to be made fun of if it’s adapted then nothing should be adapted, which is totally crazy.  

    Also your friends seem to be assholes 🙂

  92. Think of the number of poor adaptations made of classic literature. Despite it all, nobody throws their copy of The Grapes of Wrath in the bin when Ben Stiller tries his hand at making the newest film version.

    Hopefully Watchmen (um, the book) will retain it resonance and power long after the opening weekend of the film. Good art endures. And I do believe Watchmen to be good art.

     Plus– the movie is already shot. Not much good hand wringing is going to do now. But it is fun is take the piss out of it nonetheless.  😛

  93. I can’t wait to see this.  I’m not sure it will be good, but it’s incredibly rare that a movie comes out at essentially the perfect time.  I’m not convinced they meant this to happen, but "Watchmen" takes place in the dystopia that we’re now living in.  Also, everyone’s reading the book anyway, which really justifies the whole thing.  It’s not like "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" where you have to try to convince people that the books were really good.  In the end, I think it will be good with the potential to be great but will stand on its own as a work of art.  Or it’ll suck and they’ll remake it in ten years. 

  94. Just for reference, when I was scrounging around in the English section for textbooks I needed, I found Maus, Persepolis 1 & 2, American Born Chinese, and Watchmen.  Woot woot?  Woot woot.

  95. @Mike  Are we really worried about what people who insult a book without bothering to read it think?

  96. Having spent much of my day thinking about this and not being productive; I really thought about what makes an Alan Moore comic fantastic. It’s two things. One, he is just good at telling stories; the structure, timing and the other elements are all perfectly used. Two, he has a weird habit of including sex, drugs, religion and other themes that are kind of uncomfortable. If the movie is well made and includes the awkward themes I will be happy

    @Chlop: you made really excited to read Childhood’s End again. I’m on holidays at the moment so I read it from cover to cover… maybe the first ten pages relate to Watchmen after that I don’t get what you mean

  97. There was a Psycho remake?

    Are we really going to get up into arms over something we haven’t even seen yet?  I love Watchmen, but I don’t care if there’s a squid or not.

    I just hope the movie doesn’t embarrass me in front of my loved ones like V for Vendetta did.

  98. It will.

  99. @actualbutt

    you forgot the spoiler tag

  100. @chlop – that was not directed towards you. You have supplied thoughtful posts so far that I have seen. Unfortunately I don’t have to say who that was directed towards. I think it’s pretty evident. The only argument I have with you is that your initial comment about "Childhood’s End" doesn’t really apply here. I’m not condemnig the borrowing of themes, archetypes, or plot twists. I’m condemning the transportation of a work of art to another medium. But seriously, thank you for a thoughtful response as opposed to the much more common result of so many with itchy trigger fingers who just want to argue about something.

    That said, I think I’ve had enough of this discussion.

  101. Also, for the record, the V for Vendetta movie rocked my socks.

  102. @ActualButt – If my argument bothered you, I’m sorry, it’s only because of the way you worded your original posts. I see where you are coming from now, a bit. I still don’t agree with it and I think Paul and chlop have done admirable jobs, pretty much saying what was left for me to say.

    Sidenote: I didn’t think V for Vendetta was as terrible MOVIE, as some are making claim, but then again I’m keeping the mediums separate in my mind.

  103. I can’t stop laughing whenever I hear that "V" freestyle in the beginnning.  Or when any of the bad guys talk.  Or when I start thinking of the logistics of somehow manufacturing and disturbing Guy Fawkes masks to everyone in London through the mail in a supposedly totalitarian England.  Or how fickle Londoners are in this state to condone genocide and tyranny yet switch over once somebody makes one speech and ships them a mask   Ah, funny movie, that was.

  104. But I guess one might argue that the amount of copies the fact that a movie was made, which will get people to read the comicbook and have a "pure" experience before the movie comes out (although one might argue the trailers change the reading experience – voices, pacing of narration etc.), does not make it worthwhile because the movie will be very easy to get – to download from a torrent, and it might hang over the comicbook and might change the experience of reading the comicbook later.

    That the approximated "58,168" copies sold ( http://www.watchmencomicmovie.com/011108-watchmen-comic-sales.php ) would have sold eventually and without the movie – althought it might have taken longer, so that having a movie raise awareness isn’t beneficiary.

    I mean, one might argue that the amount of sales the movie achieved in producing for the comicbook, would have been reached in an extra month/year etc. and that having a movie come out will discourage people from reading what is considered a great work, because they can download the movie or rent it. Also people might read that it’s exactly like the movie and won’t understand what’s the use of reading a long comicbook when they can spend an hour and a half or more on the couch with snacks and beer.

    I can’t really say because I don’t have the sales figures of the past 20 years and the before and after the movie sales figures to see if there are consistant sales figures, establishing that the sales figures without the movie would get there in say a month or year, which might be worth the wait for someone not interested in ruining the "pure" experience of the original format.

    But even if we had those numbers, we’ll still need to figure out how much is people buying a different format and that’s not someone new reading it, and how many copies are for libraries and how many people loaned those copies. mmm…

    @Tork – if I had to walk in unison towards people that can kill me to get a cool mask and cape, I would totally do it, but I must have thousands of other people behind me that do the same thing at the same time, so I can hide behind them if said soldiers realise they can mow all of us. 

  105. "But I guess one might argue that the amount of copies the fact that a movie was made" should be(?)

    "But I guess one might argue that the amount of copies that were sold because the movie was made "

    *exactly like the movie

    should be

    *exactly like the comicbook

  106. I’m catching up here, been on holiday for a week. This was just a brilliantly written piece, P-Money! First read it at Dubai airport and really got me even more pumped for the movie 🙂

  107. did you catch a tang-tang to the airport?

  108. My concerns are similar but go more like this: The adaptation will lose so much of the power that was intrinsic in the Watchmen’s message, which is why it is considered a powerful book, that it will just become another Hollywood action/thriller. Just based on the trailers I can tell you that this appears to be 100% the case.

     It looks well shot. It looks exciting. It looks fun. It does not look like the Watchmen.

  109. @zombox – I think they sort of have to market the film that way.  Remember that a trailer isn’t always the best indicator of a film’s tone.  And, in my opinion, marketing it as a popcorn blockbuster is sort of genius, because people go in expecting more of the same and then experience something quite different.  Hopefully.  It’s about bending expectations.  

  110. E.T. started as a movie about pizza and knives…

  111. Ok, I’m back. Dammit.

    I agree with @zombox, but if the movie is marketed as something it’s not, won’t the average non-comic book fan moviegoer be disappointed? And won’t that leave a stain on Watchmen a la LXG?

    Bottom line, Alan Moore’s comics do not make good movies. Although, I’d love to see Lost Girls on film. Because I’m a pervert.

  112. Sorry, been out of town, so catching up:

    @edward – What does "critical distance" have to do with anything? Revelance? If you’re saying that Shakespeare can only survive bad adaptations because it has become institutionalized, that’s fine — but that argument is only valid if you can SHOW ME one example of a non-institutionalized literary or graphic novel work that has SUFFERED from film adaptation. You’re arguing that shakespeare isn’t a good example, but think about it: how does that drive home your point that a bad adaptation of a comic book will create "misanthropy" (as I believe you called it)?

    Now, you attempt to show that a literary work was hurt by a film by citing the LXG movie. In your words, "I have intelligent, well read, literary friends who will never read the comic because the movie was a piece of shit." So, what you’re telling me is that they actually WOULD have read the book, but they saw the movie first and decided the source material wasn’t worthwhile? Really? You can see into the future of alternate realities? If they’re friends of yours, and you tell them that "the source material was so much better," I suspect that balances out any negative impact of the film. Furthermore, I’d argue that they WOULD NEVER EVEN HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THE BOOK if it wasn’t for the movie or you, their friend, in the first place. Thus, you can’t say that the film hurt the book sales because you’re not actually dealing with REAL numbers. You’re dealing with suspected *potential* sales figures. "Well, they MAY Have bought it." Really? Well, they also may NOT have. It’s not a valid argument, and you simply can’t deign that a bad adaptation will create increased misanthropy for a single product OR an entire medium.

  113. @ActualButt — interesting notion about HP Lovecraft, but I’m not sure I buy that argument. I would argue that the people who think that the films represent the author were likely to never have read the source material in the first place. If they’re already looking for sophisticated horror, they’re looking on bookshelves where Lovecraft is well-represented; they’re not looking on DVD shelves. I watched Re-animator and a slew of bad Lovecraft movies when I was a teen, and I didn’t know any of Lovecraft’s history. but when I started to get into horror as an adult, I found Lovecraft the pulp author on the bookshelf, and that experience was entirely disassociated from the campy, schlocky movies I saw as a teenager.

  114. There’s Lovecraft movies?

  115. @daccampo: one example of comic that suffered because of the adaptation is watch the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. (I already said that)

    Critical distance means there has been a period of time between the work’s production and now (obvious)

    "Misanthropy" is personal response to the uninitiated begrudging comics books because of bad adaptations and just a bit of a joke to be honest (no relevance to what we have been discussing)

    Ok, the LXG movie. Ok. I had given the first volume out before the movie hit, it was well received and people enjoyed the read. I discussed the first and second volume with people after the movie came out and offered to lend the comics to them; they didn’t want anything to with it. So Yes, I am telling you people will never read the comic because the movie adaptation.

  116. Hostile comment deleted.

    Debate is fine, but let’s be civil.   

  117. I’ve said this before — i wasn’t a comic book reader when the LXG movie came out.  I had never heard of Alan Moore before the LXG movie came out.  I read about the premise of LXG in movie reviews and thought, "Hey, that’s cool, this Moore guy has some nifty ideas."  Then I saw the movie, saw it was not very good, and ended up checking out some of Moore’s books, and then some of Neil Gaiman’s, since my curiosity had been piqued.  Because the movie, however crappy, brought them to my attention.  Movies and television get a kind of media attention that print media, with very few exceptions, don’t. 

  118. @edward – I understand how you’re defining "critical distance," but I take issue with it being a factor. You’re basic premise is that Watchmen is going to be hurt by a bad adaptation. I disagree and cite other works of literature. You suggest that they are "different" because they are institutionalized. Fine, but to prove that that is a valid factor, you need to demonstrate an example of a non-institutionalized literary work being negatively impacted. You cite LXG.

    Let’s go with that. So, you are trying to demonstrate that the LXG books were actually hurt by the film. So, the people you offered it to WOULD have read the book if you had offered it previously, but because of the film, they actually decided they didn’t want it? And you know it was specifically because of the film? I find that hard to believe, but let’s just go with with that for now.

    You’re still dealing with "potential" numbers. Who is to say these SAME people would have taken you up on your offer if there was no film at all? And how many people DID seek out the book because of the film? Even if 1/1000 people did, that still counters the few people who MAY have taken you up on your offer, and it still results in a net positive.

    To put it another way: Before Watchmen has even been released, sales of the graphic novel have shot through the roof. Thus, the MAKING and MARKETING of the film have VASTLY helped the sales of the book ALREADY. So if a few folks decide the movie is bad, and they MIGHT have read the book, but have no interest in it now, it’s still only taking away some potential sales in a world where there was no film at all — but that world also would not have had the increased sales mentioned above. Thus, I fail to see the negative impact.

    The flap about bad movie adaptations is all a bit silly in my opinion. The publishing industry has survived a great many poor adaptations. The comics industry has had a great deal of poor adaptations, and yet it’s a more popular source for film material than EVER.

    I just hope folks (not singling you out here, edward) who are lamenting a film adaptation of any kind of precious source material are putting as much effort in the complaining as they are into the promotion of all the great comics material out there. Comics no longer have the same stain that they once had in the mainstream. Steven Grant wrote a great column at CBR awhile ago about how "we had already won" — how comics were now being taken more seriously than they ever had in the past. It may still be a niche publishing industry, but I don’t think it’s largely seen as being just kid’s stuff anymore. At least not from 99% of the people who I see and talk to on a regular basis.

    I simply don’t think that a bad adaptation of ANY single comic book property will really hurt the product OR the medium in any really relevant way. It may not help sales explode into Harry Potter numbers, but it won’t hinder.

  119. I’ve been working on a venn diagram about this, but it’s far too complicated.  

  120. I wonder though, even if the notion here that a bad adaptation will hinder potential future buyers is true, does that even matter anymore?  The book’s been one of the top-selling graphic novels for a long time and the buzz over the movie’s made that even more so.  If no other copy is sold after the movie’s released, its legacy is sealed.  The book is a success, case closed.  Nothing save a flux capacitor will change that now.  If some theoretical nobody doesn’t buy the book because of the movie, do you really care? If you’re worried that a bad movie means there’ll be people who don’t read the book out in the world, I regret to inform you there will be people that won’t read the book even if Watchmen becomes the highest-selling, most critically movie in the history of the world.  So some theoretical people might snub the book because they can’t separate it from the movie.  Big deal.  Their loss.  You own it, read it, and love it, right?  The book’s already sold like Tickle Me Elmo, right?  So, that’s really all that matters, right?

  121. *critically acclaimed movie*

  122. @ Paul: sorry about all this

  123. @daccampo: this is my final post about this because I want to live a normal life from now on.

    Basically I think we’re arguing about different things. You say the movie will help sales of the comic – yeah, true. I was talking more about popular opinion of the comic after the film comes out. So the LXG movie to prove both points. That movie helped sales of the comic but also made any right-minded individual who saw think it was rubbish. Ok? Ok.

    I still think basing an argument around Shakespeare when talking about anything literary is an extremely obvious generalisation and not relevant.

    So, a closing statement please…

  124. I did the right thing, didn’t I?

  125. Well we better hope this movie is good, because all copies of the book will be burnt on March 7th anyway…

    Oh wait they won’t? ohhh okay then.

    I will say what I’m against though, novel adaptations of films, that are based on novels. Now there’s a circle jerk.

  126. Paul, aren’t you the guy who wrote an unfavorable write-up of Watchmen a bit ways back?  I realize this article is talking more about the nature of adapting a written work into a movie, but aren’t you sort of jumping on the Watchmen excitement bandwagon after basically writing off this revered work as not really your thing?

     Like fanboys look for consistency in movie adaptations, please adopt consistency in your opinions when you ascend to your online soapbox.

  127. To quote you "This one really struck a nerve with me, and while I "like" Watchmen, I can’t say I "enjoyed" it."

     Do you think you’ll "enjoy" the movie you just spilled so much ink about?

  128. @emily2003 – If you’re asking if I’m capitalizing on Watchmen fever, well, sure.  It’s a timely article. But, as I stated in the piece, my motivations for writing it have more to do with public reaction to the adaptation process than the success of the film itself.  Consider it a counter point to the dozens of articles about frame to panel comparisons and speculation about drastic revisions.  

    You’re right in that my review of the comic isn’t all that favorable.  It’s not my best piece, but at the time, that was how I felt about the book.  The review was written almost immediately after I finished the book for the first time.  I wanted to document how that first reading had affected me.  I respected the book and still do.  But it wasn’t the most pleasant reading experience.  So I didn’t enjoy it in the strict sense of the word. It’s sobering.  And I think that’s a valid point to be made about it.  

    I was talking to a friend about the issue just the other day.  When I was at NYCC I saw countless people dressed as Rorschach.  He’s become this pop culture anti-hero celebrated for his badassey. And that’s maybe the whole point being missed on a very grand scale. He’s not cool.  He’s not Batman. People ought to pity him.  I don’t revel in this story.  I take it as a thoughtful meditation.  It’s valuable.  It’s really well-crafted.  But it’s not something I really want to celebrate as fun, vibrant fiction.  I respect and appreciate it, but it’s not something I wish to revisit time and time again for pleasure.  

    If my opinion feels inconsistent, it’s probably because I hadn’t articulated it very well in my original review.  I’ll own up to that.  But even if my opinion had changed (which it really hasn’t) aren’t we entitled to that?  Given a little time and experience, opinions can change.  I’d rather be flexible than so rigid that I’m unwilling to reevaluate my position.     

  129. Here’s what I think is great:  I (a longtime comic reader/collector) just borrowed a copy of Watchmen from a friend of mine (first GN he’s ever bought).  In exchange I’ve got a Walking Dead trade and a few other things lined up to let him borrow.  I doubt he’ll be rushing to our LCS every wednesday, but still, its pretty cool.  I feel very confident that he never would have bought this book were it not for the film.  

  130. I just re-read my Watchmen review.  It really isn’t that scathing.  I said I respected it "ever so much."  And I meant that genuinely.  If anything the review is high praise because it’s saying just how effective it really is.  It does what it’s supposed to.  I’m in awe of the book, for the most part.  But it’s a fear of God sort of thing.  Equal parts admiration and dread.  I think that’s an appropriate response, given the subject matter.  

  131. no one need apologize to Paul for any of this — he loves columns that create debate!

    @edward – wow, this has kept you from a normal life? Heh, that’s no good. I don’t really need a closing statement, but just some continuing thoughts. I’m gonna ramble on here, but that’s just because I’m a wordy motherfucker, and so is Paul, so his columns are a great place for long ruminations.

    You just said you weren’t arguing about sales, but rather reputation — and that’s an impossible argument. You’re basing your premise on one localized example. All we can really do is look at statistical figures — and those would be sales figures.

    I still think Shakespeare or Austen are valid points (I don’t think critical "distance" or even institutionalization really have an effect in this instance, but I won’t bother to elaborate here), but also note that I actually let that point slide awhile back and moved onto your LXG example. Again, this is a seriously localized example, and we’ve seen at least one post upthread where people saw the film first and then read the book. So, a bad adaptation does not automatically destroy the reputation of a book. Maybe it will for some people, but that’s really all we can say, isn’t it?  I prefer the notion that Paul has put forward, that people who are looking for literature will find the literature they seek. There is an audience for the Watchmen novel, and people will find it. I previously posted an example in which I discovered Lovecraft the author as an adult, after only knowing the campy, schlock films of my youth. So, while I understand that there is a fear that the mainstream will "dismiss" Watchmen, I’m fairly certain the book will stand the test of time. 

    i was thinking of one example that avoided the critical distance. The novel Dune. This was first published in the 60’s, and a film was made in the 80’s. So that’s roughly the same distance from publication to film that Watchmen is seeing. While I don’t recall how the David Lynch film did at the box office, I do know that it’s generally thought of as a poor adaptation. Now, 20-some years hence, the novel still stands as one of the "greats" of sci-fi, and there have been more novels and a TV adaptation. So Dune’s reputation as a Sci-Fi novel has stood the test of time. In fact, I recently twittered that I was going to attempt to read it for the first time, and that brought out a number of people, mostly folks in their 20’s, who were telling me it’s one of the all-time greats. So a whole new generation is still experiencing Dune as a novel.

    The movie may be immensely popular. The movie may be crap. It may actually be both, honestly. But while a few people may turn down an offer to borrow a copy of the Watchmen after the film comes out, I see no evidence to suggest that Watchmen the graphic novel will not continue to enjoy a long life after the film.

  132. @Dave – This is not your livejournal account. Go back to work.  

    😉 

  133. @paul.

     Well, I think you’re making a gross generalization about Rorschach, and fans of Watchmen in general.   Watchmen hasn’t become this pop culture behemouth solely because people think he’s an anti-hero badass.  It’s because, first and foremost, of this book’s high literary standards, and because of well-drawn three dimensional character.  If I were the type to dress up at conventions, I might very well gone as Rorschach because he’s such an incredibly written pathetic, tragic figure.  I don’t think he’s cool because he kicks people and stuff and is all dark, I like him for his quieter moments, where he acknowledges to Daniel he’s not easy to be friends with, or his somber acceptance of his fate at the end.  Why are you knocking people for dressing up as him at a convention? Watchmen is an intelligent book; I’d assume the people who have taken the time to read it and dress up as its characters are intelligent, too.

     A lot of people do celebrate Watchmen as fun, vibrant fiction, because it is.  It’s not some monolith to be paid tribute at; it’s something I’ve read over and over again to marvel at its structure, its graceful character interaction, and how Moore and Gibbons are simultaneously paying tribute to and revitalizing the history of comics. Your articles and subsequent comments focus on how dreary and ponderous the whole affair is. You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but should a guy like you be writing an article telling people who honestly, completely, deeply love the book not to worry about the adaptation?  Why is the movie even on your radar if the source material fills you with such dread? Just because the zeitgeist is there doesn’t mean you have to grasp it.

  134. Okay.  

  135. My own personal opinion that I have been telling to the people that I know that are ‘non-comic’ people picking up the trade for the first time is that it is like picking up Joyce or Eliot or Pynchon without having read read a substantial amount of literature first.  Watchmen is not beginner-level comics.  That is it pure and simple.

    It is one of the finest crafted pieces of comic work that has ever been produced, this should not be confused with being one of the best stories ever written.

    For that reason alone, no matter how good or bad the movie is it will likely not affect the amount of people who are going to go down to the LCS and get the next issue of ASM or Action.

    It is a dense read and people who think that comics are simple kids stories will not like the book no matter what the content of the movie is

  136. @emily2003– I believe he’s stating "don’t worry about the movie" in the context of Watchmen but by virtue of the idea that it applies to all adaptations of previous works.  I don’t have a deep love for Watchmen but I do for something like Torso.  Now, David Fincher of Zodiac and Seven is directing the film adaptation so the chances of it being good are high, but even if stinks, the book itself remains what it is.  Will the movie completely capture the essence of the book, which a lot of its greatness is in Bendis’ experimental panels?  Probably not, but the book’s quality will remain intact, even if Fincher is suddenly replaced with Lexi Alexander.  I believe Paul is simply trying to say the book will stay the book even if the movie doesn’t quite reach the same level of quality.  If anything, the publicity from the movie will draw a bigger spolight on it and there’s a better chance for people to find it and love it.

  137. What’s a Watchmen?

  138. saw a girl in my world religions classing reading a copy. Pretty neat.

  139. My sister is actually read the book as we speak…..cause I’m forcing her to watch the film…

    But she likes it so far, although she isnt noticing the marvelous use of literary techniques Moore uses. It took her four to five times to realise the cops were relating to the Comedian’s death (ex: Ground floor it is….) or the whole Dr. Manhattan interview going along side with Dan and Jupiter’s fight.

    It’s also funny that when she first saw the prose stuff in the book, she literally groaned and ask ‘Do I have to read this?’

  140. What TNC is describing is exactly what I am talking about.  It just isn’t beginner level reading.  The style and craft are too dense for what the public perception is.

    If I want to give someone a book for the reason of getting them to read more, I pick out a Walking Dead trade or Superman for All Seasons, or Ultimates (not vol 3) and the reception is much better

  141. I have no trouble reading books but still moaned because of those parts 🙂 It needs to be good to justify it – in the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TP #1 the end bit – it was nice although dragging a bit, but it was justifiable.

    The texts in the end of Watchmen issues/chapters screw up the pacing and I doubt it has to do with someone being a "beginner". Watchmen it already so slow paced, I got disheartened. They could have been in the comic.

  142. Oh yeah I mean my sister is loving the book right now. Chlop is right, I dont think there is a man or woman alive who doesnt groan at the sight of the prose parts of Watchmen…..unless your like a Harvard Scholar or something.

    The prose stuff is important though, even if it’s being released in a quick DVD spot with ‘Black Freighter’ DVD.

  143. "This is the kind of reference that KILLS what it seeks to embalm." – reviewer of the Watchmen film just a few minutes ago on CBS Sunday Morning.

    Yes, through this whole media fiasco the one thing that I’ve always noted was how dark and "edgy" the film looks. And how LOUD it promises to be, with the cliched bombastic blasts of thunderous classical music tones.

    The Watchmen comic had a quiet campiness to it, an old-fashioned charm. The heroes looked intentionally and purposefully obsolete in their designs. And it was brightly colored.

    So I’ve been very wary of this dark loud edgy cold film, the sort of marketable product accompanied by that worst thing in the world: HYPE.

    "It’s going to be okay", though, like Paul says above. Filmmakers have a right to make a mess of whatever they want, and this probably won’t be TOO much of a mess. It also helped sell all those hundreds of thousands (maybe millions?) more copies of the graphic novel.

    But boy, boy oh boy, wait till I hear all the double-think from some people about how the movie isn’t that much worse, that much stupider, that much more callous, that much more literal-minded and obvious than the comic–but that it’s just "different". Sure, it’s just a "diiiiiiifferent" take. After all, nothing’s better than anything else, and every one of the hundreds of millions of dollars making these loud ugly films is money well spent!

  144. @flapjaxx: Yeah cause Synder spending all of this money to make the closest adaptation of an Alan Moore project…..yeah it’s well spent.

    Jeez why dont you complain about it when it actually comes out? Cause right now all you have to go on for this film is some advanced reviews and trailers. Let me remind you how trailers are to the national public. The trailers always show the more action packed, ‘loud’ moments of films like this. Remember The Dark Knight trailer? Nothing but explosions, Batman punching someone, and all things Joker….Did they showcase the wonderful action, tense scenes, and great score by the composer? No.

    So in all fairness, dont think you know what a film is until you see the final project. It’s comments like what you just said above that make the people think how nerdy we really are. When we complain the details of a film before it even comes out.

  145. Edit: Ment to say ‘wonderful acting’ in the second paragraph.

    Also, shouldnt the film be dark? I mean it’s not like it’s sunshine and lollypops in this story. It’s a depressing look at an alternative 1985 where we’re seeing the story of 5 middle aged superheroes….Yeah that’s why I can see a dark and edgy tone to this film.

  146. I think the thing that worries people (like me) is that one of the greatest, if not the greatest comic ever made will be remembered to the general non-comic reading public as a bad to average movie. It’s kinda "sacrilegious" to even try to make this into a movie (IMO). I still say this comic is unfilmable, & can’t be adapted to film in any satisfying way that will do justice to the book … until I’m proven wrong.

  147. @Wade: Does ‘Lord of the Rings’ sound familiar to you?

    They also said it was unfilmable for 40 years and see what happened to it. Hell Peter Jackson had to cut a lot out of the three books to make the film…..but people arent saving those were average films were they?

  148. For what it’s worth, I thought the Lord of the Rings movies were a goddamn travesty and believe that if Tolkien had lived to see them they’d have been what killed him. He’d have gone somewhere between the dwarf tossing joke and the elf surfing on his shield during the battle of Helm’s Deep. Just a guess on my part, mind you.

  149. No. He would have died trying to proofread Lord of the Rings. Suicide.

  150. Well if Tolkien would have felt about the LOTR movies the way I felt reading the Silmarillion, I call it an even trade

  151. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    You’re invoking Tolkien now.  

     I…just…….. 

  152. Y’know, is there a little element of egotism at play in all of this?

    What I mean is… why does anyone care what the "general public" thinks of the Watchmen movie? A sentiment above suggests that Watchmen is possibly the greatest piece of graphic literature ever produced. Well, why do we so badly need the general public to know that? Why look to the mainstream to prove validity? Is it because we have this deep-seated need to be proven right? "Wow, Watchmen is phenomenal, and to think that Dave knew about it in 1989! Man, that guy is right about everything! I’m gonna start to defer to him on everything in my life!"

  153. Okay I’m not saying Alan Moore or J.R.R. Tolkien is the same quality in terms of writing. Nor am I saying that the LOTR series is great and/or worse then Watchmen.

    All I’m pointing out is that both series are turning into films. Both artists didnt think it was filmable. (Although I think Tolkien was for the first ever animated adaptation) But look at what happened to the LOTR series. It had to get cut down in some ways, but overall Jackson the rest of the crew filmed probably 85-90% of the actually series. The result? Majority of the fans loving the films, huge box office revenue, and worldwide critical acclaim.

    In today’s day and age, almost everything is filmable.

  154. Hey everyone… this was a nice surprise.. I just pre-purchased tickets to Watchmen on fandango and they just sent me an email with an itunes code for the first chapter of the Watchmen motion comic and a preview of the Black Freighter DVD. Haven’t downloaded them yet…. just got the notice a few minutes ago. 

     

     

  155. @daccampo

    That last sentence is hilarious.

    Has anyone seen the NBC familiy stations’ extended promos they have been running?  The more I see of the film, the more I think it will be good, even though they are just trailers.

  156. Caught an advance screening of Watchmen last night. I was expecting it to be pretty bad since I hated both 300 and Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. While I didn’t hate it, I thought it had some major flaws. I’ll wait until Friday to share more specific thoughts, and I’m really curious to see what everyone else thinks.

  157. Just to note:

    Heidi MacDonald of THE BEAT points out that Watchmen is currently the #1 BOOK on Amazon.com:

     http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2009/03/09/watchmen-1-on-amazon

    Not graphic novel. Not comic book. BOOK.

  158. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This means, of course, that I won.  Victory for me, PMoney.