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In today’s apocalypchicas watch, we dig deeper into the conflicted relationship between the graphic novel and the movie adaptation. This journey was no picnic for neither the creator Alan Moore nor the movie production.
Writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins form the magical trio that created the commercial success of the graphic novels named Watchmen (1987). This series has received a lot of attention after its publication, including being recognized by Time’s List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels since the early 1900s.
The idea of Watchmen as a group of New York citizens fighting for justice was not a new phenomenon in itself. What made this novel original and genius was its way of portraying these men and women in masks as ordinary human beings, with their weaknesses and strengths, struggling to serve justice in a world where the Cold War still spread fear and the pointer of the doomsday clock was terrifyingly close to midnight. Alan Moore attained a lot of attention for these novels with many critics and reviewers praising it for being one of the most significant works of the 20th century literature.
But then what?
All of a sudden, Alan Moore distanced himself from DC – he never wanted DC Comics and Warner Bros to make a movie adaption of Watchmen (as was also the case for his other comics; V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, just to name a few).
You may wonder how a movie adaption can be made, when the creator strongly opposes to its production? … Moore completely rejected having his name associated with the movie in every way, so creating a franchise based completely on the work of a man who wanted absolutely nothing to do with it anymore would seem highly unlikely. Alan Moore even negotiated to have his name removed from the film in 2008, and also asked for all the royalties to go to Gibbons.
But if Alan Moore so strongly opposed a movie adaptation of Watchmen, why didn’t he just deny them the rights to do so?
The thing is, despite Moore being the creator, he didn’t own the copyrights. He transferred the copyrights to DC in a contract in 1985. This contract actually allows him to reclaim his copyrights in 2020, however, there’s a few things to consider:
The contract listed Moore and Gibbons as co-creators, and therefore it is unlikely that he will be able to reclaim all the copyrights himself. Let’s say that DC makes Gibbons an offer he can’t refuse, then Moore won’t be able to transfer his copyright back to himself.
Also, the big media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. is the parent company of DC Entertainment, which is the parent company of DC Comics…
As the copyrights are in the hands of Time Warner, being one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, they are able to profit from Watchmen on the several media platforms they own. This is why Warner Bros. were the ones who adapted the movie, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment who released the episodic video game prequel etc. And all of this to spread out the franchise on multiple media platforms, to make as much profit of the Watchmen universe as possible.
But what is, then, so different between Moore’s comic book and Zack Snyder’s movie adaptation?
As Moore denoted: “I shan’t be going to see it. My book is a comic book. Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book. It’s been made in a certain way, and designed to be read a certain way: in an armchair, nice and cozy next to a fire, with a steaming cup of coffee.”
… and a majority of the many fans of the comics seem to agree with the creator. With the release of the movie, the internet was filled with fans expressing their dislike of the adaptation otherwise, in our point of view, very skillfully made. And Moore’s dislike for the movie certainly doesn’t just stem from an immediate dislike of Snyder as a director: it has its origins, as is visible in the quote above, from the overall idea of spreading the franchise to the big screen. While Snyder did notion that he would strain himself to stay as truthful to Moore’s version as possible, the movie adaptation did entail differences. Snyder was very attentive on the fight scenes, which he extended, and he added a subplot on issues of energy resources to make the film more appealing to the contemporary eye of the 2009-audience. And, of course, who can forget about the ending. In the comic book, the story ends with Veidt faking an alien attack with a giant Cthulhu-like creature (which he created himself) destroying massive parts of New York City. With Manhattan’s return to Earth and the “alien” monster dead, we soon discover Veidt’s involvement, but when confronted, Veidt shows them international news broadcasts confirming the cessation of global hostilities. The world leaders unite to fight against this new threat: the aliens. In Snyder’s version, Veidt develops a very similar plan, only this time he turns Manhattan into the alien. While faking evidence of Manhattan being the cause of cancer in several of his old friends and colleges, Veidt builds a machine (co-designed by Dr. Manhattan himself) that allows him to yield together a force identical to Manhattan’s that he uses to destroy parts of New York City. The world leaders unite in order to fight Manhattan, with him suddenly changing from working for the United State’s government to being considered a threat against humanity, and he is forced to escape Earth. Moore let Manhattan leave because he wanted to create new life, while Snyder turned him into the “lie” that would leave all the world’s countries to declare world peace.
The members of our blog can’t really seem to agree on which ending is the best. What are your thoughts?
Gotten you interested? We thought so! Stay tuned for more Watchmen-fun when apocalypchicas watch broadens out the universe of the franchise.
McDonald, Heidi. 2012. “The Legal View: Could Alan Moore regain the WATCHMEN copyright?” Comicsbeat.com. http://www.comicsbeat.com/the-legal-view-could-alan-moore-regain-the-watchmen-copyright/
Watchmen Wikia. http://watchmen.wikia.com/wiki/Watchmen_Wiki
“Who Owns What”. Columbia Journal Review. http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=timewarner