Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the beloved graphic novel Watchmen is arguably the most divisive comic book movie in the brief history of the subgenre. Even now, years after its release, fanboys and Hollywood execs are still debating whether it's a classic or a failure – and whether it was too slavishly devoted to the source material or deviated too wildly in the most important moments. Talk about not being able to win for losing.
It doesn’t help that Snyder himself is a divisive director known for making movies with oodles of style but also often viewed as lacking much in the way of substance. Add that to the mix and it’s easy to see why people are so conflicted over his film.
One of the folks who seems most conflicted is producer Joel Silver. Silver was set to produce an adaptation of the comic back in the day, with Terry Gilliam directing. That project never quite got off the ground, but that hasn’t stopped Silver from waxing poetic about what might have been and what he thinks of Snyder’s version.
When the topic is broached in an interview with Coming Soon, Silver’s quick to point out that his planned version was “a much better movie” because he feels Snyder was “a slave to the material.” He then elaborates and reveals how Gilliam’s ending would have worked.
“What Terry had done, and it was a Sam Hamm script–who had written a script that everybody loved for the first 'Batman'–and then he brought in a guy who’d worked for him to do work on it [Charles McKeown, co-writer of 'Brazil']. What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure," Silver said. "He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from 'Watchmen' only became characters in a comic book."
This ending was a pretty huge departure from Alan Moore’s graphic novel, but Snyder changed the ending as well. Hard-core fans have never been pleased about that.
For his own part, Snyder has heard the Silver criticism (and to be fair, Silver says that he did like Snyder’s version and thinks the filmmaker “did great stuff” in it) and responded. It’s like a Hollywood catfight!
In a Huffington Post interview, Snyder addresses the “slave to the material” quote head on.
“It's funny, because the biggest knock against the movie is that we finally changed the ending, right?”
He also says that he felt Gilliam’s ending was “completely insane,” and that fans would have flipped out over it. Then he drops this bombshell:
“Yeah, the fans would have stormed the castle on that one. So, honestly, I made "Watchmen" for myself. It's probably my favorite movie that I've made. And I love the graphic novel and I really love everything about the movie. I love the style. I just love the movie and it was a labor of love. And I made it because I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy. So, finally I made it to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.”
Ouch. While I don’t think I’d have really liked Gilliam’s ending, I do often think his version of Watchmen could have been interesting. I think Snyder’s is interesting as well. Can’t we all just get along?
What do you think of Gilliam’s ending? Are you happy with the Snyder version? Should they reboot the whole thing and try again? Go nuts in the comment section.
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