My mom didn’t like comic books — too much violence, she reasoned — so no Superman or X-Men for me. Occasionally, Archie or, if I was lucky, Scrooge McDuck Adventures. Sigh. But, to her credit, I only climbed up on the roof a few times, and never to try to fly.
Watchmen is why I read comics, the graphic novel lovingly shoved down my throat by high school pal (now big-shot character animator) Ethan Hurd. He kept going on about how good it was and how I should read it, and I always resisted (if you want to make sure I will never see a movie or read a book or listen to an album, tell me repeatedly that I have to, or react with horrified shock that I haven’t yet seen/read/listened to it). For Christmas one year, he finally gave me the paperback, along with a Clapton CD. “I got you two gifts, one you’ll like and one you won’t.” But he got it backwards. I wound up falling deeply in love with Watchmen and finally understanding what he was on about. The narrative depth, the characters, the subtexts…it’s just a masterpiece that happens to take place in the realm of funnybooks. Now I’m the one shoving it down people’s throats. (Oh, and the Clapton CD was good too, but I already had it.)
I’ve been collecting tidbits of trivia, alternate editions, and promotional items over the years — I have some of the portfolio prints framed in my house — and even have a hard copy of the horrible movie script Sam Hamm penned back in the early 90s, where it starts with the destruction of the Statue of Liberty (?) and ends with an alternate dimension crossover. Utter shit! Kat and I did the first issue of Watchmen as a radio drama in college as a class project and always wanted to complete it. But when we built it, we realized…the comic itself is a brilliantly conceived storyboard. How could any screenwriter screw that up?
So, now armed with a much better script from David (X-Men) Hayter and 300 director Zack Snyder at the helm, they’ve announced the core cast for the 2009 movie version of Watchmen. My only reaction is…who? Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves have apparently both turned it down, but we have Jackie Earle Haley confirmed as Rorschach. Okay, that’s cool, and as some have pointed out, semi-anonymous but with serious acting chops is what that character needs. And in truth, I don’t really want names; I want actors. But everybody else is an unrecognizable starlet working their way up; will they have the chops? Maybe that’s how you get stars, by taking risks, or maybe this is how you save money in effects movies, by hiring n00bs. I’ve got that old fear of the unknown.
Oh god…I’m officially one of those “those people” obsessing over a comic book movie that won’t be out for two more years, hoping that something that I hold dear won’t be screwed up in its inevitable Hollywood translation.
But I’m determined, and you can hold me to this: I can be happy! I do believe a good movie version of Watchmen can be made, just like LotR picked and chose the right battles and even the Harry Potter films have, overall, hit the right balance. If it sucks, I’ll be sad, and I’ll always have the book. But if it’s good, I’ll be thrilled.