Zack Snyder‘s film adaptation of Alan Moore‘s hugely popular, critically acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen has no shortage of critics (including Moore himself….for the record, I personally loved it). Of the many aspects of the adaptation often derided, none receive more complaints than the way screenwriters David Hayter and Alex Tse handled the story’s apocalyptic climax.
Film producer Joel Silver once had plans to make a Watchmen adaptation–with Terry Gilliam at the helm–and few in Hollywood are more critical of Snyder’s film (sour grapes?).
Follow the jump, and read how Silver and Gilliam’s flick would have ended:
PS: If you haven’t read Moore’s graphic novel, or seen Snyder’s film–the following article WILL SPOIL THE ENDINGS to both (and shame on you, btw).
Silver spoke with Coming Soon–and called the Snyder flick a “Slave” to the source material–among other things:
It was a MUCH much better movie […] I mean, Zack came at it the right way but was too much of a slave to the material. I was trying to get it BACK from the studio at that point, because I ended up with both “V For Vendetta” and “Watchmen” and I kinda lost “Watchmen.” I was happy with the way “V” came out, but we took a lot of liberties. That’s one of the reasons Alan Moore was so unpleasant to deal with. The version of “Watchmen” that Zack made, they really felt the notion. They went to Comic-Con, they announced it, they showed things, the audience lost their minds but it wasn’t enough to get a movie that would have that success.
So Silver’s pissed he only got to adapt ONE Alan Moore property….Boo-Hoo.
But wait! There’s more:
Just so we’re all on the same page, the original story ended with Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) faking an alien attack by teleporting a giant, genetically engineered squid into the heart of New York City–killing millions and uniting humanity against a common (albeit fictional) threat, thus ending the nuclear standoff between the U.S. and its allies, and the Soviet Union. By his calculations–and he WAS the smartest man on Earth–this was the only way to prevent a nuclear war that would have killed billions.
Everybody getting this so far?
This ending was the main reason Watchmen was so difficult to adapt to the big screen. The ending worked in the comics, but wouldn’t have translated well to cinema. Snyder’s film solved this problem by instead having Veidt create and activate reactors that mimicked the powers of Dr. Manhattan….these reactors destroyed large portions of dozens of cities around the globe, and united the world against Dr. Manhattan–which is reasonable, as he had become an inscrutable force with Godlike powers and little connection to his former humanity.
Fans have been divided about this ending: Some see it as a cop-out, while others (including myself) think it’s a much better way–cinematically speaking–to handle the story’s climax. You still get the destruction and the unification of humanity, but you don’t have to make a giant space squid that–even with CGI technology–would likely have looked ridiculous on the big screen.
Well, Silver thinks the idea Terry Gilliam, and screenwriter Sam Hamm came up with beats BOTH of these endings:
What Terry had done, and it was a Sam Hamm script–who had written a script that everybody loved for the first “Batman”–and then he brought in a guy who’d worked for him to do work on it [Charles McKeown, co-writer of “Brazil”]. What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He 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.
So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they’re all of the sudden in Times Square and there’s a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There’s a kid reading the comic book and he’s like, “Hey, you’re just like in my comic book.” It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn’t happen. Lost to time […] But I did like the  movie, very much. Zack did great stuff in it!
Okay, it’s certainly imaginative–and for the purpose of saving humanity and preventing nuclear holocaust, it probably would have worked–but there are two big problems right off the bat:
1. That cutesy, oh-so-clever device of having the heroes become characters in a comic book would NOT have worked in a story as dark and gritty as Watchmen. It would have felt tacked on, and even a little offensive to fans expecting a “realistic” story line.
2. A resolution like this would have RUINED Adrian Veidt’s entire character arc: The whole reason he’s an interesting character is because he is a hero–a good person–who has concluded that the only way to save humanity is through an act of inconceivable evil. Whether in Moore’s novel or Snyder’s film, Veidt knows he will be haunted by his decision for the rest of his life, and he will see the faces of the innocent millions he slaughtered in his dreams every night until he dies.
Gilliam’s ending utterly disregards this, and gives the film a “feel good” ending in which no one has to die, and there’s nothing to feel any guilt or remorse over….All in all, this ending betrays a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of the film’s writers and director. As much as I love Terry Gilliam, this film would have been a travesty.
Oh, and Mr Silver? You don’t get to spend an entire interview trashing a film and explaining how much better it would have been if YOU had made it, and then make everything magically better by backpedaling and claiming you really did like the movie you’ve just spent 10 minutes shitting all over 🙁
Source: Screen Rant