Who wants to see the Watchmen newsstand come to life? Here it is. And guess, what? That's not really New York City. No, fortunately (and unfortunately, kinda), 42nd Street no longer looks like that. Instead, that's a custom backlot built up in Vancouver. And there's more photos to whet your appetite, too, over at Warner Bros.' official site for the film. Looking at the pics, I feel like I'm seeing an establishing montage of the NYC of Watchmen. There's a grimy bus stop with the Treasure Island store behind it. There's the pun-named Gunga Diner. And best of all, there's a re-election campaign poster of Richard Nixon, with Rorschach walking by and some graffiti asking, "WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?" nearby (see image above). This new update also includes interesting facts about the backlot, such as information on its design, construction ("20,000 donuts were consumed by the construction crew") and requirements ("Street had to work for 1938, 1945, 1953, 1957, 1964, 1974, 1975, 1977, and 1985"). Of course, someone might complain that all this work and money could have gone to a Mars set (which director Zach Snyder said they couldn't afford to build), and real New York locations should have been used instead.
I may be a die-hard supporter of New York films actually being shot in the Big Apple, but there are numerous occasions where I'm forgiving. For instance, I completely get that Watchmen can't film here. Aside from the fact that the story takes place in the 1980s -- an alternate 1980s to be exact -- and aside from the fact that until the end of the graphic novel there is no significant use of any necessary NYC locales or landmarks, the movie is based on a comic book. And it's important for it to look like a comic book movie, because it is a story that's very much centered on a comic book world. I don't mean it should look like a cartoon. It actually should look gritty and realistic at times. But I think having the characters dropped into the actual streets of Manhattan -- even if those streets were dressed up (or down, as it would be) -- it would look even more fake than a constructed set, which might be able to compliment the characters and their costumes better. If Watchmen were shot in the real NYC, my beloved city might look as artificial and lame as it does in Enchanted.