"I'm most excited that it's brought people into comics." -- Dave Gibbons, when asked what his favorite part of this Watchmen journey has been.
Last night, Cinematical was lucky enough to attend a private screening of Watchmen footage hosted by director Zack Snyder and Watchmen co-illustrator Dave Gibbons. There was a reception before and after (where they served this really great sushi), and in a separate room off to the side they set up a sort of Watchmen museum, with costumes worn in the film, as well as drawings, set design stuff, character posters -- the works.
Once inside the theater, Snyder introduced the first twelve minutes of the film by giving us a little background on his past with comics (started reading Heavy Metal as a kid, and was immediately turned off when he read other graphic novels because there wasn't enough "f**king or dying"). His work on Watchmen began while they were still finishing up 300, and originally they wanted to update Watchmen to the War on Terror. Eventually, though, Snyder chipped away and convinced the studio to remain faithful to the source material, which meant a film that took place in 1985, included the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon and all the scary realities which make the graphic novel so intriguing to read.
My thoughts on the footage and notes from the post-screening Q&A after the jump ...
Note: If you haven't read the graphic novel yet, what I'm about to say might be spoiler-ish ...
The first twelve minutes of the film consisted of:
- The Comedian's murder inside his own apartment at the hands of an unknown assailant
- A very long and detailed opening credit sequence set to Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" -- featuring a heavy amount of visual backstory, a lot of which concerns The Minute Men, who were the very first set of masked vigilantes.
Snyder then came out to introduce the next scene:
- If you've read the graphic novel, then this sequence takes place when Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) first arrives on Mars after leaving earth following accusations that he (inadvertently) killed those closest to him.
Snyder then introduced the last piece of footage:
- Following the tenement fire, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre lie naked after a post-rescue, love-making session. Worried Rorschach was right and that someone is trying to get rid of masked heroes, Nite Owl suggests they break Rorschach out of prison. The two then travel to the prison, where there's a full-on riot taking place. Once inside, they battle several prisoners before picking up Rorschach, who has a little unfinished business to take care of in the bathroom before leaving.
Following this last scene, there was a brief montage of scenes from all throughout the film -- most of which are already featured in the current trailer.
Snyder was then joined by Dave Gibbons for a Q&A on stage, and here are a few snippets from that:
- Snyder said they did not "puss out" on the ending.
- Snyder wanted the line, "We've discovered God and he's American" on the poster, but the studio wouldn't allow it.
- The scenes that were hardest to shoot were Comedian's funeral (because of all the flashbacks), Manhattan on Mars and Rorschach's flashbacks to his childhood.
- The story of those two detectives, who, in the graphic novel are trying to connect all these murders and disappearances to one another, did not make it into the film. Although they do show up, they don't spend a lot of time on them.
- They turned The Black Freighter comic into an animated tale and it will arrive on a DVD along with a mock doc-type news program chronicling the original Nite Owl's memoirs, Under the Hood. This DVD will hit shelves when the film is released in March.
- On the Watchmen DVD, there will be a longer cut with The Black Freighter animation worked into the film itself. This cut, Snyder believes, will run at about three hours and twenty five minutes.
- When asked whether he thinks Alan Moore will ever watch the film, Dave Gibbons said "it's not my job to convince Alan, and I don't know what he'd think of it."
Watchmen arrives in theaters on March 6th.