by Graham Pierrepoint
Watchmen is arguably one of the most celebrated, and important, graphic novels and comic book collections of the twentieth century. The saga, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, was one of the first satires of superheroes and comic culture to break through into the mainstream, depicting a grimy alternate reality where retired vigilantes find themselves targeted by an unknown killer – and in 2009, the long-thought unfilmable story (for its sheer length and depth alone) made its way to theaters on behalf of director and admitted fan Zack Snyder. The movie was warmly received by some, while others felt that it either lacked the message that the original book tried to portray, or that it clung far too keenly to every page of the original stories. Let’s not even mention the changed ending, either.
Watchmen as a movie had been in development hell under several different directors since its original publication in the late 80s, and while 09’s adaptation scratched the itch to see Rorschach, Dr Manhattan and others in the flesh, there have been bubbling rumors as to when another attempt will be made to bring the stories back to the big screen. To satisfy fans’ thirst for more Watchmen, there was even a prequel series of comic books released some years ago – entitled Before Watchmen – but any sign of another adaptation has yet to materialize – until now.
It’s emerged that Warner Bros may be considering adapting the story in animated form following a consumer study and discussion over the firm starting to target an R-rated audience with direct-to-home-media animation. Certainly, since we last saw Watchmen, the superhero genre has exploded on the big screen – and beyond that, Deadpool changed the game entirely last year by turning a low-budget R-rated comic book flick into a colossal worldwide success. The climate has changed – meaning that now could be a very good time for Moore and Gibbons’ characters to return to the spotlight.
Moore, however, likely won’t have much to do with the project – he has famously refused connection to several adaptations of his work, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Constantine (on which a character he created was based). In any case, fans of the book will likely be split just as much as they were with Snyder’s movie – will the story ever be given the adaptation it deserves – and is there any need?