The keynote event of this year’s Comic-Con had to be the WATCHMEN panel. EW’s Jeff Jensen led director Zack Snyder, co-creator Dave Gibbons and the entire cast of WATCHMEN plus Carla Gugino through a Q&A. Snyder showed some re-edited footage expanded from the trailer with a bit more violence (Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam) and character moments — Dan Dreiberg sitting sadly next to his Nite Owl costume. References to the graphic novel as the “bible” of the shoot were rife, with the entire cast speaking to the richness and depth of the characters. There were also several references to many Easter Eggs throughout the movie.

Gibbons reveals that although he doesn’t make a cameo, ala many comics creators, his signature “G’ is seen as graphitti throughout the sets.

In interviews afterwards, Snyder admitted that though the very enthusiastic response from the 7000 people in Hall H was gratifying, it didn’t entirely relax him. There’s still much editing to be done, and it is the greatest graphic novel of all time. He mentioned the difficulties of making a movie based on such downbeat and nihilistic material at a major studio. “Of course I want Warners to make money,” he said. “But when they wonder why something violent or sexy or disturbing has to be in, I say, that’s the reason why people want to see this movie.”

Gibbons said that the experience of seeing his creations brought to life was overwhelming. He was also asked about Alan Moore’s dismissal of the film. “I see there is an elephant in the room. I wish that Alan could feel the same excitement and joy I’m feeling right now.” After the panel, he said that the last time he had spoken to Alan, Moore asked him not to bring up the Watchmen movie with him again, and he doesn’t expect to. Gibbons was also asked if there would be any new Watchmen art — a portfolio if you will– to coincide with the movie’s release, but there are no real plans at present.

There were several people in costume who asked questions during the panel, including a Batman, a Joker, and a Rorschach. The last named led to a great comedy moment after he asked about whether movies like THE DARK KNIGHT would lead to even more mature comic book movies. Snyder smiled a moment and said, “There’s something funny about being asked about mature comics from someone in that costume!”

The Beat‘s opinion? The footage looks fantastic — rich, detailed and faithful to the spirit of the book — somewhat pulpish but dark at the same time. Of course, we haven’t heard any dialogue yet, but let’s remain optimistic. The cast seems very much on board with the spirit as well. Let the countdown to 3/6/09 begin.


  1. I’m surprised the Watchmen panel didn’t crash Twitter, with all the posts made by Whitney and the ladies from the Washington Post.

  2. I’m curious, do those who know Moore think there is any chance that Moore might give the film a chance if it turns out to be a decent adaptation? That said, I fully understand his scepticism given previous adaptations of his work.

  3. The music that was used for the new footage at today’s panel was incredible. I’d swear it was Philip Glass (and I hope he’s being used for the film’s music) – can anyone confirm this?

  4. Yeah, that had to have been Glass, something from the -qatsi films. As for the expanded trailer— WOW! All those scenes straight from Gibbons’s
    panels up on the screen: like that Night Owl scene mentioned above, Rorshach’s discovery of the Comedian’s closet, that atomic-blast kiss between Dan and Laurie, Manhattan’s hand crashing through Adrian’s compound, and that shot of the Comedian’s fall from grace… March ’09 can’t come fast enough!

    And, nice detail of playing Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin'” as the assembled cast came out to the Hall H audience…

  5. I think the movie is going to be excellent and will far exceed anyone’s expectations. Why? a) because no one felt it could do the GN justice and had low expectations and b) Because it just looks great, feels great and people were going nuts when the trailer appeared in front of Dark Knight.

    That said, its too bad Moore won’t be joining the party but to each his own. Glad Gibbons is all psyched because he’s great and he deserves this. Can’t wait for his new hardcover book coming out in a couple of months too, Watching Watchmen or something like that.

    That should be great too!

  6. timothycat: I don’t know Moore, but based on what the writer has said there is no way in Hell that he’ll have anything to do with the movie no matter how good or bad it is. He’s opposed to the whole concept of adaptations of his work, not just about quality.

    Heidi: Nice point about the dialogue. I think the trailer looks great and retains Gibbons’ visuals, but I wonder how much the script will adhere to Moore’s words, which will be crucial. I finally watched 300 the other day and man was that thing goofy as hell, especially the dialogue, which I don’t know how faithful that was to Miller’s words, since I never read the GN.

  7. I suspect Moore will remain opposed to any future adaptation of any work with a Ditkoesque steadfastness, which is his right. It’s good to see Gibbons reaping the benefits of the movie, though.

    I’m skeptically optimistic about the film. If there are any comic adaptations where it’s vital to capture the themes and characterization of the source material, it’s of Alan Moore’s works. Given the density of WATCHMEN, it’s going to require some skillful pruning on Synder’s part, and I’m still not convinced he has the artistic maturity to pull it off. Telling a compelling story on film requires more than just slavishly swiping images or words, although I’m grateful they’re not taking outrageous liberties with the script, as earlier drafts seem to have done.

    In my head, any movie that approaches a Moore book with sensibilities used to film a Dennis Potter script would be golden.

  8. Really need to see this new extended red band trailer. In particular, I have to see the Dan and Laurie dream scene where they kiss and the bomb goes off. I love that scene.

  9. Watchmen might be comics’ 2001, the movie that elevates the genre above the stereotypes and expectations of the general populace.
    According to the Nova Express interview, Philip Glass is a favorite of Ozymandis. And Dylan is quoted in the graphic novel, but not that song?
    Sitting in Imax, waiting for The Dark Knight…

  10. I tried to explain what Watchmen was to my girlfriend just before we saw the trailer, and she said, “that looks nothing like what you just described!”

    This thing is going to be hard to market. I think it’s kind of up to people like us to build buzz for this flick, which means it really better be a good movie!!

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