Watchmen was originally published in 1986 by DC comics, based on an idea from Alan Moore. The film version has been in the works since the early ‘90s, though no one, including Paul Greengrass and Terry Gilliam, found a way to make it work on screen.
Dave Gibbons, comic book artist: “As a teenager, Alan had this wonderful adventure in mind about someone that was murdering superheroes, and when he got his foot in the door at DC with Swamp Thing, they asked him if he would like to do a treatment of a group of characters they’d bought from Charlton Comics. And he adapted this idea that he'd had as kid into a murder mystery with them. When they saw what he'd done with these characters they'd paid so much money for, they said, 'actually, we'd like to keep them. Could you come up with some other characters?'”
Zack Snyder, director: “I think it's our mythology. In ancient times, they did the same exact thing. They said, 'oh, it's the gods... It helps us understand our world.' But I think in our case it's 'what makes these problems we've created for ourselves?' Superheroes are an easy way to get at that and what Alan did is he said, 'those gods you worship? They're broken. As broken as you are.'”
Dave Gibbons: “I said, 'this is something I'd really like to draw.' I came to a convention in the States in 1984, spoke to the people at DC and they were happy for me to do it if Alan was. Nite Owl was the only character Alan didn't have a name for and I'd created it when I was about 12 or 14 and the Golden Age costume the original Nite Owl has was what designed when I was that age.”
Zack Snyder: “Warners asked me and I don't think they knew what they had. They said, 'hey, you wanna do this Watchmen thing? Comic book... Oughta be hilarious!' And I said, 'Are you guys serious? You wanna do this?' They had a script already, and I had to completely re-do it.
Thank god I didn't think about the pressure of the movie, because I probably wouldn't have tried it! I kind of took it in small bites, and before you know it, you're doing it! There was nothing that made me think that I could do it, other than that I loved it.”