"You've got all the characters interacting, like Andy Warhol doing portraits of the superheroes."

The long and agonizing wait is almost over. No, we're not talking about an upturn in the failing economy -- it's the hotly anticipated 'Watchmen,' which finally hits screens on March 6.We'll get to see for ourselves if Zack Snyder's vision has made the world of doomsday a reality (in a more entertaining way than the aforementioned flagging markets).

Moviefone was on the set in 2007 to witness the early days of the film's production in Vancouver, talk to Snyder and the film's cast and crew -- and find out whether this project could ever live up to its critically acclaimed source material, Alan Moore's graphic novel.



Watchmen' Set Visit

    The long and agonizing wait is almost over. No, we're not talking about an upturn in the failing economy -- it's the hotly anticipated 'Watchmen,' which finally hits screens on March 6. We'll get to see for ourselves if Zack Snyder's vision has made the world of doomsday a reality (in a more entertaining way than the aforementioned flagging markets).

    Moviefone was on the set to witness the early days of the film's production in Vancouver, talk to Snyder and the film's cast and crew -- and find out whether this project could ever live up to its critically acclaimed source material, Alan Moore's graphic novel. -- By Monika Bartyzel

    Warner Bros.

    Book adaptations always stir up questions of how much a movie can stay faithful to the source material. According to director Snyder, we shouldn't worry: "It follows the structure really close. We flip through it to try and find out where we are. It's super close." In fact, the graphic novel is almost a prop on set, constantly referred to by the director, stars and crew -- almost more than the script itself.

    Warner Bros.

    While Snyder is dedicated to following the novel's story, some cuts had to be made: "You film everything, it's a five-hour movie. Not that that's wrong. There's nothing wrong with a five-hour movie; it's just not practical," he explains. "You want someone who has seen the movie and not read the graphic novel ... I want them to read the graphic novel and go: 'Wow! It's thicker than that even. It's deeper, denser than the movie.'" Couldn't he have filmed the five-hour version for the DVD?

    Warner Bros.

    The world of 'Watchmen' might be dense and filled with doomsday fear and stoic fighters, but you won't get a film that's suffocated by actors who take themselves too seriously. Matthew Goode who plays Ozymandias in the film, explains: "It's almost a little bit camp. You know, which it sort of needs to be. It's fun." This is about normal people (save Doc Manhattan) who dress up in strange costumes to be superheroes, after all. Sort of like Comic-Con, if you think about it.

    Warner Bros.

    'Watchmen' offers a rich and layered alternate history reminiscent of our own. To bring new viewers up to speed, "The title sequence sets up the whole power universe," production designer Alex McDowell explains, "you've got all the characters interacting, like Andy Warhol doing portraits of the superheroes." Producer Deborah Snyder (Zack's wife) explains that it "was really important to Zack to reference pop culture as much as possible." They even set up a war room to keep this complicated history straight. And that's OK, because they were making the movie -- not so OK is if you've set one up in your mother's basement.

    Warner Bros.

    While 'Watchmen' might exist in an alternate world, it's one that will certainly sound familiar. On set, Snyder mentioned '80s icon Boy George and that he was trying to incorporate the music mentioned in the book. According to the film's soundtrack, we should get ready for a diverse music landscape that includes Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel and Billie Holiday. And Culture Club? Do we hear Culture Club?

    Warner Bros.

    '300' revelled in all things CG, but 'Watchmen' makes use of real-life sets as much as possible. While it might not be possible to see Billy Crudup as an enormous Dr. Manhattan in his lab without CG, a full set was built for his towering laboratory, as well as a fully enclosed and functioning Nite Owl ship, the streets of New York, Rorschach's jail and apartment, and every other notable location. All the better to make the New Yorkers feel at home in Vancouver.

    Warner Bros.

    The astounding attention to detail in 'Watchmen' will be something to look out for on the big screen and once the DVD arrives. There are, in fact, details we will probably never be able to spot. For example, in the jail rebellion scene the floors are littered with real comics, papers and skin magazines (natch, it's prison, after all) from the appropriate pre-1985 period.

    Warner Bros.

    On set that chilly day in 2007, Wilson's Nite Owl and Malin Akerman's Silk Spectre were storming the littered prison to free Rorschach. This wasn't a light, choreographed dance. The floor rattled and the walls shook as Owl and Spectre donned their impressive superhero gear and fought their rioting assailants, both seeming more like trained action stars than actors with a history in pensive drama and romantic comedies. Goodbye Oscars, hello MTV Movie Awards.

    Warner Bros.

    Co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan might appear to don just a simple rubbery football costume or robe for his role as the Comedian, but Morgan had to undergo hours of makeup: "It's a lot. My first week of filming was the first scene in the movie -- the Comedian's death scene ... That makeup was 5.5-6 hours to do every day. My first day of work I started at 2:30 in the morning to be on set at, like, 9." Well, at least his character's story line has a satisfying resolution, unlike, say when he guest-starred on 'Grey's Anatomy.'

    Warner Bros.