WATCHMEN AFTER 9/11 – ADAPTING CULTURE

#apocalypchicaswatch #watchmen #9/11 #newyorkcity #worldtradecenter #adaptingculture  

In today’s apocalypchicas watch, we explore how the tragic events that happened in New York on September 11th 2001 changed the tone for the entire Watchmen franchise. For New York City, as well as for the rest of the world, these events would come to change something inside all of us: suddenly, our worldview was challenged.

As we already mentioned in our earlier blogpost on The Conflicted Relationship Between the Graphic Novel and the Movie Adaptation, Alan Moore’s comic book was published already in 1986-87, during a time when the uncertainty of the hovering Cold War, which would soon see its end, yet still prevailed in the American culture. But something happened between the release of the comic book and the later movie adaptation (2009) which was to change both the American culture itself as well as the Watchmen franchise. 9/11.

The movie adaptation was not only met by a refusal of being canon by its very own writer, Alan Moore, but it also sparked controversy among the fans of the franchise, as they too thought Snyder’s reimagined ending to be too far away from the comic. Snyder simply omitted the squid monster from the comic book, letting Dr. Manhattan to be the ultimate scapegoat for Veidt’s attack on the City:

911

And New York City wasn’t the only target for Veidt’s blue atomic explosions in the movie adaptation: several major cities around the world experienced the devastations, earning Snyder not to center the destructionist plot entirely on the citizens of New York, like in the comic book. But he omitted more than that.

Over 12 pages of the comic book were completely left out of the movie adaptation, pages filled with horrific and gory images of the destruction of New York. Images of bloody bodies spread across the streets of the City were suddenly not viewed in the same way as they were immediately after the comic book’s publication. Dave Gibbons even commented on this omission in an interview from 2009:

“It relates to the whole question about violence in the whole thing. I think the consequences of violence should be shown graphically, just to show that violence is unpleasant. It isn’t just [that] you get a little spot of blood, and then you put a band aid on it and you’re all better… I suppose you also have to say that in a way, post 9/11, it’s a very tender area anyway. So I think that might modify how you would treat it, if you were going to do it.” (Dave Gibbons, 2009)

How would you have treated the subject?

Snyder chose, in many ways, to distance his movie adaptation from its original text but also from the events of 9/11 by de-emphasizing New York City as “Ground Zero.” (Rehak 2011) This is apparent from the adaptation’s altered ending and in the many shots of the New York City skyline, shown in the movie, where the Twin Towers are apparent.

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While Moore and Gibbon’s work corresponded to their contemporary geopolitical surroundings, Zack Snyder successfully altered his movie to match with the geopolitical consequences that 9/11 had on the US and the rest of the world. The creators of Watchmen, the movie, adapted the franchise to the contemporary American culture – because the geopolitical landscape had changed.

Screenwriter David Hayter also revealed in an interview from 2009:

“The ending of the book shows just piles of corpses, bloody corpses in the middle of Times Square, people hanging out of windows just slaughtered on a massive scale. To do that in a comic book, and release it in 1985, is different from doing it real life, in a movie, and seeing all of these people brutally massacred in the middle of Times Square post 2001. That’s a legitimate concern, and one that I shared.” (Hayter 2009)

On whether he was afraid the audience might not like the new ending:

“I would have liked to have seen the squid. I would have loved to have seen it exactly the way it was in the book – but I also felt the same pain everyone else did living here when [September 11] occurred. My primary years working on it were also 2000 to 2005 and 9/11 was a lot fresher in people’s minds right afterwards. So it wasn’t just the studios. That was something I did for the studios without having to be pushed on it.” (Hayter 2009)

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Have you figured out what you would do, if you were to make a movie adaptation of the Watchmen comic that preserved the original feel while still pursuing new cultural forms of resonance and relevance? Send us your ideas!

 

Gotten you interested? We thought so! Stay tuned for more Watchmen-fun when apocalypchicas watch broadens out the universe of the franchise.

References:
Rehak, B. 2011. “Adapting Watchmen after 9/11.” Cinema Journal  51 (1): 154-159
Woerner, M. 2009. “How 9/11 Changed Watchmen.” Io9http://io9.gizmodo.com/5160960/how-911-changed-watchmen/ (Accessed 29-03-16)
“Cold War: A Brief History. The End of the Cold War.” Atomic Archive, http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page22.shtml  (Accessed 29-03-16)

Reklamer

THE CONFLICTED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GRAPHIC NOVEL AND THE MOVIE ADAPTION.

#apocalypchicaswatch #watchmen #timewarner #alanmoore #DC #copyrights

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?

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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.

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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.

Reference List:
  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