NY Comic-Con, Day 2: Who Watches the Watchmen? We Watch the Watchmen.

NY Comic-Con, Day 2: Who Watches the Watchmen? We Watch the Watchmen.

Spoiler-free first impressions of the first 18 minutes of Watchmen.

[This continues our coverage of NY Comic-Con 2009]

This was arguably the main event of this year’s Comic-Con: Warner Brother was trotting out previews for three of its upcoming films: Watchmen (opens March 6), Friday the 13th (opens Feb 13), and Terminator: Salvation (opens May 22). Each preview was also accompanied by a Q&A session with select movie makers.

First up was the oh-so-highly-anticipated Watchmen.


Spoiler-free first impressions of Watchmen, after the jump.

Dave Gibbons, the artist of the original graphic novel, came out to introduce the preview:

dave-gibbons-introduces-watchmen-comic-conThe promotional material didn’t specify what the screening would be, so the audience was thrilled when Gibbons announced that we were about to see the first full 18 minutes of the film, as well as one additional scene. Too cool.

What was in that first 18 minutes, besides the first scene and the opening credits sequence?

Looooottttsss offfff slooooooooow mmmmmooooooottioooooooon.

Which should be no surprise to anyone who knows that Zack Snyder, director of 300, is at the helm of this piece, or for that matter, anyone who’s seen the trailer. In case there was any doubt, let it be cleared up now: this is movie is going to be dark, loud, stylish, and heavy-handed. Don’t take that the wrong way, though: those 18 minutes were exceedingly well done, but it remains to be seen if two and half hours of heavy-handed visual style will come together to make an effective film. Many would argue that 300 didn’t, but at the least, I think we can be assured that Watchmen will be very nice to…watch.

The footage was also notable for how closely it hews to the source material. In the Q&A that proceeded the screening, Gibbons confirmed that the filmmakers were trying to recreate many of the panels from the graphic novel as closely as possible, and he did address head-on the allegations that the Watchmen is “unfilmable” by praising Snyder’s faithfulness to the source and the attention to the little details that people will only be able to get when going frame-by-frame with their DVD remotes. He literally said that.

If you haven’t read Mlawski’s excellent article on the subject of the filmability of the Watchmen, I highly recommend you do so, because she essentially anticipates Gibbon’s frame-by-frame argument by pointing out that reading a graphic novel allows you the time to absorb all of those little background details, whereas a movie keeps zipping along at the same pace.

So is Watchmen filmable or unfilmable? Well, it depends on your definition of “filmable,” but I think people are really missing the point when they ask that question. Instead, they should be asking, “Does the film have the potential to faithfully adapt the graphic novel and tell its story in a compelling way?” I think the answer to that question is, yes, as long as slooooooooooooow mmmmmmmoooooottttiooooon followed by FRENETICACTION followed by slooooooooooooow mmmmmmmoooooottttiooooon doesn’t get old.

Also of note: Gibbons did directly confirm an important detail of the ending which I won’t reveal here; you can read all the gory details here if you’re dying to know.

And lastly, Gibbons said that there’s nothing stopping Warner Brothers from making prequels/sequels to Watchmen, which means that Watchmen Babies is still a possibility:

There’s always hope…

Coming up next: McG comes off as far more articulate and intelligent than Charlie’s Angels would have you believe. Oh, and new Terminator: Salvation footage!

12 Comments on “NY Comic-Con, Day 2: Who Watches the Watchmen? We Watch the Watchmen.”

  1. Carsten #

    I hate Zack Snyder, I hated 300, and I’m well aware that, on opening day, I’ll be leaving the first screening of Watchmen with rage-prompted tears.


  2. Gab #

    Then don’t go see it, Carston. Duh?


  3. Carsten #

    I can’t *not* see it. I’m a man-enough fanboy to take the punishment head on. Haha.


  4. Gab #

    Then don’t bitch about it on a site anticipating it with enthusiasm, even if there’s a grain of salt or even some trepidation involved- it makes you sound like a troll. Or at least say *why* you’ll be in tears, i.e. establish yourself as a devoted fanboy that feels “300” was ruined for them because of X,Y,Z instead of a hater of all things Zack Snyder alone with a predisposition to do none but loathe the “Watchmen” movie as such. It kind of kills the high for the rest of us- and if you’re a fanboy, you’d want people to enjoy it *somehow*, right? I’m pretty anxious about what will be negatively changed/presented, too, but I still wish to go in without a determination to automatically hate it- I really don’t see how refusing to give the movie a chance at all before it’s even in theaters would help me further enjoy something I’ve been a fan of for over a decade; and I like the idea of more people getting involved, even if it’s somewhat hipster of them. They’re the cute ickle n00bs wif der ickle wittle limited understandings of the nuances of the cultural, sociological, political, etc., impact and commentary that is “Watchmen.” Yeah? Yay-uh.


  5. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Whoa Gab, easy there. Carsten’s allowed to dislike Zach Snyder. And since when is Overthinking It a fanboy site where all we do is talk about how awesome stuff is going to be and don’t tolerate those who are skeptical?

    That being said: Carsten, what specifically drove you crazy about 300?


  6. Matthew Wrather #

    And get the troll plank out of your eye before complaining about the troll speck in your neighbor’s.


  7. Gab #

    Yeah, I guess that was rather rude of me. Sorry about that. I suppose I just don’t see the value in anyone, fan of the original graphic novel or not, automatically disregarding this movie because “300” was a disappointment. It’s perfectly fine to be skeptical- I admitted that I am. And I don’t think this is a fanboy site, either- that’s why I suggested an explanation as to why “300” was bad. I enjoy hearing differentiating opinions, and I wouldn’t try to stifle debate, so I apologize that I came across differently. Perhaps my wording was too hostile and my attempts at humor failed- that’s one of the drawbacks of internet communication, it’s lack of tone, volume, delivery, etc. Anyway, mea culpa, and I’ll keep it shut for a while.


  8. Carsten #

    Gab, no worries.

    I’m between classes as of this exact moment, but I’d love to elaborate about my distaste for all things Z. Snyder.

    I’ll be quick, though, and leave a quick synopsis. Maybe you and I could carry on the discussion elsewhere?

    -I find Snyder’s “style” very jarring, and I’m often broken of the “fictional dream,” as it were.

    -In regards to 300, everything the narrative could have expressed was expressed more vividly to me through the comic, and I felt the Queen sub-plot did very little for the story’s arc. Also, it seemed clear Snyder’s “visionary” direction was lacking when he had no artists’ renditions to plagiarize visually.

    -In regards to Watchmen: I have no maternal instinct of protection over the work. I’m not concerned with keeping it a sort of quasi-cult monolith, and I couldn’t care less if the general public latched on to the film or not. My problem is that I know the visual style will be similar to 300, and thus I am well aware I’m going to be pulled out of the movie more often than necessary. It’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for me regardless–not because it’s Watchmen so much as it is Zack Snyder doing Watchmen.

    Like I said, I could go on, but it behooves me to scamper to class.


  9. Carsten #

    Also, in an effort *not* to seem like an unyielding dissenter, I’m trying to bracket the most bald opinions with the pronoun “I”. That way there’s no confusion about whether this is opinion or not.


  10. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Carsten – I’m a 300 fan. I thought it was pure yummy candy when I saw it on the big screen in a packed house. BUT… each time I see part of it on TV, I like it a little less. It’s ravishing, but there’s not much under the surface. And yes, I’m 100% with you that everything they added was a pointless waste of time. I know they had to add something to make the story longer, but all the did was spin their wheels, and give the dude from The Wire some work.

    And I share your skepticism about Watchmen. Here’s my issue with it: it looks too damn comic-booky. Watchmen is supposed to be a gritty, realistic take on superheroes. From what I’ve seen, Snyder’s vision is gorgeous, but completely artificial. Unlike you, I’ll watch it and probably like it. But maybe there’s such a thing as being TOO faithful to your source material. Chris Nolan’s Gotham City felt like a real place. Snyder’s New York City looks like a series of wonderful 3-D matte paintings come to life.

    Anyway, I sense you’re a little like me, in that you’re predisposed to be skeptical about the things you’re “supposed” to love. (I’m anti-Slumdog.)


  11. Carsten #

    Oh yes. I love being the naysayer for the films that are “events” and the vanguard for the films that shouldn’t warrant a second glance.

    For instance, I loved Speed Racer. I thought it was fantastic. I am one of five people on the planet with that opinion. Haha.


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