In the long, long history of studios trying to drag Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel Watchmen on to the screen, many have tried – from such notable names as Terry Gilliam, to the more recent Paul Greengrass – but all have failed.
But Zack Snyder, who’s about to attack us with his version of Frank Miller’s seemingly unfilmable bloody Spartan tale 300, looks like he’s coming closer than anyone before. At Comic-Con last year, Snyder told Total Film that he wouldn’t be just using the green screen system he’s perfected on 300, but would instead go for a blend of live action and some CG for trickier shots.
Now, with 300 on the horizon, he’s been chatting up the progress with Watchmen. “We're trying to get a budget together now and I feel like the movie is in a very cool place. I think the script is starting to become pretty cool,” he told Comingsoon.net. “I've been talking to some actors - I'm not going to say who - but it's cool, because in some ways you can get real actors. You don't have to go Hollywood. So that's all going along. They have talked about maybe shooting in the summer.” He certainly likes the word “cool”.
And he’s happy that while the movie comes with the baggage of several failed attempts, he’s now getting his shot: “I can only thank God that they haven't gotten it together yet. I think the delay is that they haven't known what it was. I set the movie in 1985 and I have the luxury of being far enough away from 1985 so that that is a viable idea. I think what happened in the past was that when you're only five years away from 1985, it's a weird time to make a period piece that took place three years ago, but studios don't get that,” he says.
“There has been a push I think on the other scripts that exist about trying to update the movie or trying to make it take place in present day and things of that nature. I think by setting it in 1985, by having the Cold War, having Nixon, having all that stuff, you sort of reinvigorate what the story is about. It allows all the metaphors to sort of erect. But, if you set the movie in modern times, you're basically saying it's the war on terror that is the thing. Then the movie is asking me, ‘Oh Zack, what do you think of the war on terror? What's your take on it?’ Who gives a f**k about what I think about the war on terror? That's not why people go to the movies.”
And he’s not worried that Watchmen doesn’t fall into an easy superhero genre slot. “People have said to me, ‘What's going on with “Watchmen?’ You’ve got to make sure you don’t f**k that up. What can I do to help?’ And I said, "Go see 300. The truth is 300 to the studio is a graphic novel movie. It's not a movie that they necessarily understand exactly when I pitch it on paper. They feel in some ways the same about "Watchmen. They don't understand why it's not Fantastic Four. I have to remind them that it's much more Strangelove than it is Fantastic Four which they don't like hearing, but they believe that I know, and in that way, it helps.”
300 assaults our cinemas on 30 March. Watchmen may be ready for next year, but don’t hold your breath until they’re actually shooting…