Watchmen the Movie is really happening.
It’s not that good movies aren’t made from comics, just as with books. It’s just that sometimes you do wonder what the point of making the movie is, since it’s clearly going to be impossible to capture the things that made the original source material unique and worthwhile. The very things that led them to make the movie in the first place.
Recently the main kind of movies based on comics have been the big (and not so big) superhero brand name movies – Spider-man, X-men, Batman, Daredevil, Hulk, the Crow, Hellboy, Elektra – which are generally solid, enjoyable Blockbuster fare. There’s plenty more of those kinds of films on the horizon: Fantastic Four, Batman Begins, X-Men 3, Spider-man 3, Superman Returns, and even (if rumours are to be believed) Wolverine, Magneto. I have nothing against those movies. I even enjoyed most of them. I’m even the one person in the world who thought Daredevil was a really interesting and enjoyable film. Seriously.
It’s just that those kinds of movies, good as they are, are not the kind of film that Watchmen or V for Vendetta need to be. Sure, there are other kinds of movies based on comics – things like Road to Perdition that no-one even realises are based on comics, but – on the whole – the reason comics get made into films, and the reason people go to see those films, is that they’re simple, iconic, and easily digested.
And I can’t help worrying that the reason Watchmen is being made is that it’s got superheroes in it. Never mind that this is an intelligent, well-written piece, or that the characters are ordinary, messed up, lonely, overweight, disturbed people, or that the comic is deconstructing the very genre. Never mind that the comic is an incredibly intricate and detailed accomplishment layered with subtext. It’s got superheroes in it, ergo it’s simple and easily digested, ergo it gets made into a movie. All I can hope is that some of the intricacy and subtext makes it into the film and not just the superficial aspects, because otherwise what are they really doing but remaking Mystery Men without the jokes? My one glimmer of hope is that Terry Gilliam’s involvement (in an earlier stage of Production Hell) means that someone, somewhere gets that this is not your typical summer blockbuster.
The same fears apply to V for Vendetta, right down the the whole “anarchist vigilante” angle being an easy sell. I do have vague hopes that this one will turn out a bit darker and more interesting, since the Matrix is actually a good movie, but again the worry is that the subtext is lost, and all you’re left with is the high concept story idea and a so-so action movie.
We’ll see. I’ll give them a chance. Hell, I’ll even go and see Constantine, despite the fact that they’ve taken a bleach-blond, swearing, chain-smoking, bit-of-a-bastard English magician and turned him into Keanu Reeves with a bit of stubble.