Feb 28 2014 12:05pm

The Ending to A Terry Gilliam Version of Watchmen is... Well, It’s Different?


Because people enjoy piling on pretty much everything Zack Snyder tacks his name onto (he’s easily becoming the new Michael Bay in this regard), producer Joel Silver recently stepped forward to discuss what earlier plans for the Watchmen project entailed, and... well, they’re different. Not necessarily better.

Just different.

Silver was quick to condemn Snyder’s version of the adaptation, stating “Zack came at it the right way but was too much of a slave to the material.” And it’s certianly hard to argue with that pronouncement, since there were practically only two sequences in the entire film that were not ripped for the comic’s pages verbatim.

So what would Gillaim have done? It all hinges on Doctor Manhattan. Apparently, Gilliam believed that it would have been best to avoid New York’s personal Armageddon, and find a way to pull the big blue guy out of the narrative—after all, his appearance in the first place is really what changes the world:

“[Gilliam] 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.”

It’s an interesting idea, for sure, and certainly a logical one within the narrative structure even if it is a giant deus ex machina. In fact, I was sort of on board with this idea as an adapted difference between the film and comic, right up until that last part. About everyone suddenly becoming characters from a comic book.

Just... characters from a comic book. Are you kidding? Most bad Gilliam films are at least more interesting than good Hollywood blockbusters, and the good Gilliam films are something truly unique and sublime. But that bow-out isn’t even a half-step down from “Oh thank goodness—it was all a dream!” The weird action that sets  the ending in motion only makes for more awkwardness; a vortex happened! Somehow! Science! Art! Stories! They connect, everyone.

At the end of the day, it seems just as well that we didn’t go there.

Info via Empire Online.

Durfington Hurfington
1. Durfington Hurfington
Watchmen is the only film adaptation where people complain it is TOO faithful to the source material. Any other time people would be whining about how the movie was nothing like the book. Personally I thought Snyder's version was great. Ultimately it all comes down to the fact that people, especially comic book nerds, just love to complain.
Andrew Gray
2. madogvelkor
I liked the movie, but Gilliam's twist would have been interesting. But making them all comic book characters would have been going to far. Maybe a scene where Dan Dreiberg is in a comics shop talking to Walter Kovacs who is working behind the counter. They're discussing the latest issue of "The Comedian", wondering who Ozymandias Comics will find to take over the story after the recent death of artist/writer Ed Blake. With a comment added that the whole comic was really just a decades-long exercise in wish fulfillment by Blake.
Durfington Hurfington
3. mikers123
Snyder's version was great in that it was so faithful to a daunting piece of comic book literature. Daunting in that it would have taken even more time to adapt any closer to the source material. I enjoy most of Gilliam's work, but in this case, it's better the movie was given to someone who was reverent as they could be to the source material.
thistle pong
4. thistlepong
I can't really enjoy Watchemn as anything more than an artifact at this point anyway. I honestly love the film. It captures the nostalgia in the text and reinforces it with it's frame by frame devotion.

Looking at this, I'm glad it never happened.
Durfington Hurfington
5. harq al ada
Alot of the biggest themes in the book revolved around a major doomsday like sacrifice, removing that would flatten it way out.
Durfington Hurfington
6. Nix
I enjoyed Watchmen, but like most, my issue was how straight of an adaptation it was. It is incredible how accurate the transcription of the comic to film is, but I think it actually turned the movie into two hours of talking heads; not the standard rouse for a superhero film, and WB pushed it as if it was. Outside of the brilliant casting of Jackie Earle Haley, I feel like it's just sort of "meh." Not a bad movie, but nothing amazing either.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
feh. Snyder's version getting almost everything right made the really important things it did get wrong all the more infuriating; IMO, if you understand the source material well enough to grasp the importance of "God exists and he's American", it's an unforgivable screw-up to do Dr. Manhattan killing people as a Freddy Krueger-type gorefest rather than existential erasure, and removing the couple of times Adrian Veidt expresses doubt - particularly giving the "does it work out all right in the end "/"Nothing ever ends" exchange to Dan and Laurie - cuts a whole dimension off his character.
Allana Schneidmuller
8. blutnocheinmal
@2 (Love the name!)

It's funny that the closer you adhere to the original, the more people nitpick about the little changes. It's adaptation uncanny valley.
I don't get it. Any closer and it would be the comic, so just... read the comic. Or there's the motion comic.
Plus, the ultimate cut, which edits in the Black Freighter segments, clocks in at 215 minutes. How much longer did they want the movie to be to fit in every frickin thing?

P.S. And I don't care what anyone says, I love Sucker Punch. It's exactly what we need more of on film. An original fantasy film. Starring a diverse ensemble cast. Led by women. Who rail against the patriarchy, kicking ass and taking names!

(EDITED because it takes me forever to write comments at work. >_>)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
9. Lisamarie
I really liked the Watchmen movie (although agreed with 7 about cutting out the 'nothing ever ends' exchange!) - but I would not say I was a hardcore fan of the comic, just a more casual fan.

Anyway, I guess I never quite got the 'slave to the material' criticism because that's usually what I want in an adaptation...I wish Peter Jackson had been more of a slave to the material!

Which is not to say that I don't understand books and movies aren't exactly alike and there are definitely some changes/expansions I agree with. But Gilliam's version doesn't appeal to me at all, it barely seems like the same story.

@1 - different genre, but I've seen a lot of people make the same complaint about the first Harry Potter movie too.
Durfington Hurfington
10. DougL
I've never read the comics, and I loved the movie, but ya, this is the first I've heard that it was ripped right from the comics, now all the whiners seem...crazy to me.
Durfington Hurfington
11. Athreeren
I thought Snyder's movie was interesting as a transposition of the comic. Everybody said that the comic couldn't be adapted to movie format, and Snyder proved them wrong. The result wasn't great (and certainly could have done without the absurd quantity of gore. Do they all have superpowers now?), but nobody can deny it was a faithful adaptation, which is why I think the movie was interesting from a technical point of view. Moreover, I hadn't read the comic before, and the movie convinced me I should. I much preferred the comic, but I don't regret having seen the movie.

I don't see the problem with the end proposed by Gilliam. The creation of Doctor Manhattan is the point where the uchrony diverges from reality, so it makes sense that by removing him, we get to a world similar to ours. And our world has Watchmen. It's like in the comic: comic books are about pirates, because superheroes are boringly real, so when they don't exist, there is fiction about them again.
Joseph Newton
12. crzydroid
I'm pretty much with Lisamarie...I like the movie except for changing about the last line. As for the proposed version above, it's pretty much nothing like the wouldn't even be the same thing, in my opinion. If I go to a movie called "Watchmen," I would expect it to be about the Watchmen, not someone's alternate universe fan fic. It would pretty much end up being like the Super Mario Brothers movie.

As for 6, I think the nothing but action is a problem of the genre. It was the main problem I had with The Avengers, and one of the main complaints I've heard about Man of Steel. I think The Avengers could've stood to have some more character development and deeper themes. The Watchmen is a certain type of comic and it's a certain type of film. There may be a place for smash-'em-up superhero films, but if you're going to Watchmen, you probably want the more reflective stuff of the comic. And actually, the action sequences being more typical of superhero films was one of the problems I did have with the movie...while in general I like how the fight scenes were done, the criticism I had was that it made the heroes seem almost superhuman. One of the things I liked about the comic was that these seemed like regular people, but they were just really good at beating up thugs (in a realistic and believable way). And then they were out of breath at the end because they were old and out of shape.
Durfington Hurfington
13. Naciak
The movie was sublime, in a sense that it expanded on the comic book by bringing 2D art to life (especially the director's cut with "tales of the black frighter" combined), with good soundtrack and cinematography, BUT the script was ripped from the comic book and not putting Alan Moore's name on it (even if he didn't want to) is a plagiarism. And some scenes where the same like panels in the comic, so really Snyder treated the comic as a storyboard. That is what irks me the most, that credit is not where the credit is due.
Durfington Hurfington
14. roblewmac
1. liked the movie
2 it could NEVER be as good is the comic(s) the varitey of text peices REALLY shows a changed world.
3 that said the opening montage was a good way to on film
4. I liked the ending
5. The only thing I did'nt like is Rorsach being "ruthless but ok" in a standard BATMAN, WOLVERINE, Punisher way. he's not just "tough on crime" he's a foul smelling racist who REALLY messes up your cocktail party
Durfington Hurfington
15. rm_rm
I think the movie is horrendously UNfaithful to the comic book. It has a lot of images directly inspired by the comic, true. But no one involved in making the film understood any of the themes or ideas or characters from the original. Every small change made for storytelling economy's sake is one that rips meaning or moral away. Every small addition or invention is one that absolutely reverses the themes of the original. It's like they killed and gutted the original and animated its corpse by implanting a robot inside the dead skin. Gilliam's ending would have been . . . unwise . . . probably, but shows an understanding of the original story.

In case it isn't clear, I loathe the film completely, and all of you who do not loathe it with every fiber of your being have been cast into outer darkness. Repent.
Joseph Newton
16. crzydroid
Btw, what is the drawing at the top from? Most of the costumes look like the comic costumes, but Silk Spectre's looks more sexualized like a modern comic and not anywhere near the comic or movie versions.
Durfington Hurfington
17. SKM
The problem with the movie wasn't it's faithfulness to the graphic novel. The problem with the movie was that the performances (besides Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, both of whom were fantastic) ranged from meh at best to downright awful at worst (looking at you, Malin Ackerman). The movie captured the look of the original, but without three-dimensional character portrayals, it captured none of the original's soul. That's what disappointed me.

As for Gilliam's proposal, it's an interesting idea for a film, but it isn't Watchmen. Nope.
Brandon Daggerhart
18. TankSpill
I'm sometimes in general really suspicious of Gilliam's directions and motivations. I've read his AtMoM script, and the ending (that he changed completely) was pretty horrible. The original book had a perfectly good ending, leaving you wanting more of the story, and fearful of what that story would bring. His just ruined it all. Sometimes I'm happy that he doesn't get (or complete) all the projects he starts with.

I was going to say that about the Hobbit movies, but he at least would have probably stuck to just one good, long movie...

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