Who Watches The Watchmen?

By sizemore Last edited 168 months ago
Who Watches The Watchmen?

Well, we'd like to.

"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face."

The works of Alan Moore are renowned for their intelligence, wit and sophistication which is what makes them such a difficult animal to translate into film. We've already covered Constantine, but before they Keanued all the soul out of Hellblazer, Hollywood had also done its very best to ruin other Moore creations. Both The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and From Hell are based in beautifully realised London settings, but for many people are now inexorably linked to the bad movie adaptations. From Hell in the hands of the Hughes brothers became yet another 'spot the Ripper' movie whereas the book had no interest in hiding the Ripper's identity, Moore being more intrigued by the power of the city itself and the birth of the 20th century. The League's two volumes were so densely plotted and populated with characters from pulp literature that guides have been written and the reason we are not overly excited by the upcoming Tom Cruise infected War of the Worlds is because we have already seen Martian walking machines astride the Thames, blasting us all to kingdom come.

Let's just draw a veil over the League movie and pretend it never happened.

We have some hope that at some point an Alan Moore story will make it to the cinema intact, and currently there are two adaptations on the way. V for Vendetta is filming right now and already looking marred by the Wachowski brothers' involvement. The original book is perhaps the ultimate London as dystopia story and if filmed correctly would have given life to many of David Blunkett's visionary fascist ideas. Of course the movie is all about Germany winning World War II.

Which leaves the trickiest, grandest and most unfilmable of the Alan Moore books: Watchmen.

Watchmen is a superhero story, but has little to do with the likes of Superman and Spiderman. Set in a world that saw actual costumed vigilantes appear in real life as opposed to the funny books we are treated to a view of the superhero as outcast. Scorned by society, forced into retirement or seconded into secret service these heroes are a dysfunctional bunch. Some have lost touch with their humanity while others had little to begin with, but all the characters are conceived to reveal the flawed people beneath the costumes. When one of these 'heroes' is murdered no one really cares apart from the psychotic Rorschach who sets out to uncover the truth. His actions bring old associates back into play and reveal a final terrible truth that sets the book apart from just about every other comic before or since.

Terry Gilliam has tried to adapt Watchmen, but admitted defeat after finding it impossible to confine the huge plot into a cinematic time frame. Since then other names have been attached and discarded from the project, most notably Requiem for a Dream's Darren Aronofsky (now mouth-wateringly involved in the new Lone Wolf & Cub movie). Then out of nowhere came Paul Greengrass, the director of Bloody Sunday and The Bourne Supremacy and for a while, according to early drafts of the script, it seemed we were going to see a Watchmen that would at least try and do justice to Moore's vision.

Now we learn that the production may be faltering. Londonsit isn't too surprised to learn that Paramount are considering a u-turn on the $100 million plus project. To be frank there's a part of us that thinks maybe it would be a good thing if this story remained where it belongs... in between the covers of a book.

But then again...

Simon Pegg wants to play Rorschach...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone managed to hold their ground on this one and we finally got to see him screaming "Do it!" in the snow?

"Don't tell me they didn't have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into hell, all those liberals and smooth talkers... and all of a sudden, nobody can think of anything to say."

Last Updated 30 March 2005