Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

Joel Silver Says Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen' A "Slave" To Comic, Terry Gilliam's Version Had No Dr. Manhattan

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist February 26, 2014 at 1:19PM

Up there in the pantheon of Movies Terry Gilliam Almost Made, riding right near the top (beneath "Harry Potter") is an adaptation of Alan Moore's "Watchmen." In case you weren't aware, before Zack Snyder got his slow-motion, "Hallejuah"-scored-sex-scene hands on the comic, the project was set up over at 20th Century Fox where Joel Silver and Gilliam were working on it. Obviously, it never came to pass, with Gilliam saying the material was "unfilmable," but today Silver sheds a light on just how different their version would have been.
15
Watchmen

Up there in the pantheon of Movies Terry Gilliam Almost Made, riding right near the top (beneath "Harry Potter") is an adaptation of Alan Moore's "Watchmen." In case you weren't aware, before Zack Snyder got his slow-motion, "Hallejuah"-scored-sex-scene hands on the comic, the project was set up over at 20th Century Fox where Joel Silver and Gilliam were working on it. Obviously, it never came to pass, with Gilliam saying the material was "unfilmable," but today Silver sheds a light on just how different their version would have been.

The producer recently stopped by ComicSoon to talk this weekend's "Non-Stop," and the conversation turned to many other topics, but it's "Watchmen" where Silver doesn't hold back stating plainly that Gilliam's version would've been, "a MUCH much better movie." So what was the problem with Snyder's take? Read on:

I mean, Zack came at it the right way but was too much of a slave to the material. I was trying to get it BACK from the studio at that point, because I ended up with both "V For Vendetta" and "Watchmen" and I kinda lost "Watchmen." I was happy with the way "V" came out, but we took a lot of liberties. That's one of the reasons Alan Moore was so unpleasant to deal with. The version of "Watchmen" that Zack made, they really felt the notion. They went to Comic-Con, they announced it, they showed things, the audience lost their minds but it wasn't enough to get a movie that would have that success. 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"]. 

So, how they did manage to wrestle a story that goes into literal outer space, but also deals with homemade heroes, political undertones and so much more? They re-envisioned the material in a way that would make it work more naturally on the big screen:

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. 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.

So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they're all of the sudden in Times Square and there's a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There's a kid reading the comic book and he's like, "Hey, you're just like in my comic book." It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn't happen. Lost to time.

As you might know, Moore wound up pulling his name from Snyder's "Watchmen" and we can't imagine he would've been thrilled at the pretty wild overhauling of his comic here either. But you know what? It kinda works on paper, and it was pretty smart of Gilliam to find an approach that probably would've worked a bit better, and been certainly more fascinating on the big screen, than Snyder's dry, comic panel replicating take. 

But what do you think? Was Gilliam on the right path or is "Watchmen" truly unfilmable? Tell us below.

This article is related to: Joel Silver, Watchmen, Terry Gilliam, Zack Snyder


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates