So, I'm looking at this Minutemen photograph, just now released to the public to promote Zack Snyder's Watchmen. It looks pretty much like it should: a bunch of dopey guys in costumes trying to save the world, completely oblivious to the horrors that await them. It looks great.
And yet, I don't really care. I'm still pissed that Watchmen is being made at all. But why? Why will I gleefully jump to my feet everytime I hear anything about Power Max or the next Batman or even the Incredible Hulk, yet I freak out with fury when I hear that Alan Moore's best work is being adapted to the big screen? Lord knows that every other comic book movie has not even been remotely close to its source material (even The Incredible Hulk will evidently have more in common with the TV show than the comic), yet I've enjoyed them without the slightest smidgen of guilt. Yet, Watchmen gets made, and I get filled with an incredible fury.
Yet, it's not okay when any changes are made to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's not okay when the title character in V for Vendetta falls in love with Evie Hammond. It's not okay that Zack Snyder would say he "respects" Alan Moore's decision to have his name removed from the film, but then would go ahead and make it anyway. I'm not being sarcastic here, and blaming the public or the comic fans for finding it unacceptable. I'm saying I find it personally unacceptable.
Are Moore's stories so good that any change to them whatsoever, no matter how small, can be construed as disgusting? If that's the case, then we're admitting that the comics Iron Man, Batman, and Spider-Man came from evidently weren't good enough to need their integrity preserved. We're perfectly cool to just take the heroes from other comics, but when it comes to anything Alan Moore does, it's evidently gotta be everything or nothing.
I find this irritating, if only because it means that I will never be able to enjoy Snyder's Watchmen, no matter how good it is. Like everyone else, I scoffed at the idea of the action-minded director taking on what basically amounts to a subtle superhero soap opera (and though I'm evidently alone in this, I still can't forget how bad 300 was). I was pissed they're not using David Hayter's entire script, although he is evidently getting co-writer credit. And yet, are those the only reasons? Am I pissed because they're making a Watchmen movie in the first place? If so, and if I'm not alone, then that's a hell of an unpleasant way to react to hearing anything about an adaptation.
The key, it would seem, to really enjoying oneself at comic book movies is to take the mindset we reserve for a Hulk or an Iron Man – namely, that this movie is about a hero but doesn't necessarily have to be 100% faithful to its source material – even for those films that are directly based off much-respected graphic novels.
But wait, to hell with that! A graphic novel is not some excuse for a reasonably interesting character to fight people. At least, not if it's a graphic novel written by Alan Moore. A graphic novel is a cohesive, self-contained story in the same way that you'd treat a regular novel, or even a movie. If I'm supposed to just forgive weird little changes to the story because of the way Batman Begins deals with its source, does that mean I should be okay with a Jane Eyre movie adaptation that finds the protagonist fighting alien dinosaurs in a robotic suit? Probably not.
All I know is that I will be disappointed when Watchmen comes out. Even if they stick reeeeally close to Hayter's script, which they probably won't, Zack "I can shoot action scenes really well and not much else" Snyder will probably kill it somehow. Then I'll be bitter for a few months, then I'll write another feature on BK whining about how I was right.
It's difficult, being a comic book nerd.