A cult work if ever there was one, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic has long had a reputation for being unadaptable. Before watchmen by Zack Snyder prove the opposite in a film as controversial as it is exciting, a certain Terry Gilliam could have saved him the development hell since the early 90s. But Monty Python had to throw in the towel, leaving us forever to fantasize about a proposal that would obviously have caused a sensation.
Say Snyder’s name and you will activate Debates of an intensity equivalent to the collision of a giant octopus.. If some (including Christopher Nolan) consider it a notable precursor, others criticize its watchmen for being too close to the comic. As if the grammars of cinema (composed, among other things, of music, editing, acting, etc.) and comics could be so easily confused.
The very existence of the 2009 feature film may have made us forget to what extent Alan Moore’s work was considered impossible to transfer to a screen. Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass, who have tried it, can attest to this. Dense, mature and served by a complex narrative, watchmen is a monument in the world of superhero stories: condensing it into a film represents an immense challenge. Fifteen years earlier, Terry Gilliam seemed on track to accomplish the feat.
The imaginary of Dr. Manhattan
Batman’s lethal weapon
Since the beginning of its publication by DC Comics in 1986, watchmen caused a sensation and became the first graphic novel to win the Hugo Award. Young producer Joel Silver (who is about to continue The lethal weapon, Predator and die hard) was not wrong: aware of its extraordinary potential, and before the finale was published, he joined forces with the man who launched his career, Lawrence Gordon, to acquire the rights from 20th Century Fox.
omen Alan Moore’s stormy connections with cinema, refuses to contribute to the editorial staff. He challenges the very principle of adaptation, stating that his story is made to be consumed in its original medium, “in an armchair, warm by the fire, with a steaming cup of coffee”.
Further Batman’s triumph in theaters in 1989 reassured producers about the potential of watchmen. Responsibility for the script ultimately falls to Sam Hamm, a comic book author… who just co-wrote Burton’s film.
However, the project is having difficulty getting off the ground. In 1991, Fox goes offline while retaining a distribution option. Lawrence Gordon obtains the rights through Largo, a company he founded two years earlier with a Japanese company.