Watchmen not only propelled Zack Snyder into the blockbuster stratosphere, but it is also probably the most divisive comic book adaptation in movie history. When you consider just how damn popular and influential Alan Moore’s original comic series is to this day, that was always going to be the case. But where do Moore’s book and Snyder’s interpretation split off in completely different directions? Here’s a handy video guide to show us.
Kudos to CineFix for creating this impressive and comprehensive breakdown of both the seminal comic book and the divisive blockbuster. They also deserve praise for not just spending the entire clip completely lampooning and attacking Zack Snyder for his alterations, and for not fantasising about Terry Gilliam’s long touted version that never made it to screen, but has always been cited in arguments against Snyder.
But where do Zack Snyder’s Watchmen and Alan Moore’s Watchmen differ? Well, Snyder not only changed the ending but he also had to cut several scenes and scenarios from the book that he deemed superfluous to the main story for time. While developing the 1991 version with Warner Bros. Monty Python icon Terry Gilliam, the acclaimed director of 12 Monkeys and Brazil, was insistent that in order to do the novel justice on the big screen it should really be turned into a 4-6 hour miniseries rather than a feature length film. As you can probably guess, the studio didn’t agree.
But Snyder was able to me more brutal with his source material, which led him to cut out the entire Tales Of The Black Freighter sub-plot, as well back-story for The Minutemen. However, it wasn’t just these changes that left fans of the comics apoplectic. There were several other alterations that many deemed simply unecessary. This included making Dr. Manhattan more patronizing and vindictive, implying that Ozymandias was a sociopath, and making Night Owl much more confident during his confrontations with Rorschach.
Meanwhile, an entire sub-plot that focused around energy resources was added, plus fight scenes that simply made up a panel in Moore’s comic were extended to last for several minutes. Costume changes to both Night Owl (to make him look scarier) and Ozymandias (which simply made him look like he was wearing the Bat-nipple suit) have also been criticised, as has Snyder’s decision to basically give all of the characters superpowers instead of showing them as humans.
Often labelled as an "un-filmable" entity, Watchmen’s polarized critical reaction and failure to please die-hard fans, as well as its poor performance at the box office (which saw it gross $185.3 million from its $130 million budget), suggests that the naysayers were probably right after all.