I wish I could be as determined as Kevin to avoid the film, as Watchmen the comic book is a work I respect tremendously, but between Pete expressing an interest in it, the presence of Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the film, and my own morbid curiosity over just how bad it’s going to be, I’m pretty sure I’m on the hook to see it at some point. Of course, what really fascinates me in that link is the fact that, once again, for stating an opinion Kevin is being raked over the coals by people unable or unwilling to see his point. And that’s funny to me, because Kevin is a hell of a lot more politic about it than I would be.
I mean, let’s all be perfectly honest here: Watchmen the movie is not for comic book fans. It’s for the people who made Paul Blart: Mall Cop the number one film in the country for several weeks. It’s for the people who read The DaVinci Code and patted themselves on the back because they read big, thick books. It’s for people who keep Fox News on the air.
And you can’t blame Kevin, who is in most things a man of taste and discernment, for not wanting to subject himself to a film crafted for that audience. Which begs the question: why would anyone take Watchmen, one of the most important texts in the history of comic books, and turn it into a film aimed squarely at the lowest common denominators of the American public? And that’s when we get to the tragic truth…
Most people didn’t read Watchmen and come away with an indictment of the fetishization of nostalgia. They didn’t read it and find a critique of authoritarian power structures in global politics and how that is mirrored in popular entertainment vigilante fantasies. They didn’t find an examination of the limits of that whole “power and responsibility” thing and how that absolutist notion of morality falls apart when faced with reality. Nor did they find an amazing example of story-telling structure that fully exploits the idiosyncratic nature of the comic book medium to tell a mature story that is, quite literally, only possible within the comic book medium.
No, they found a cynical super-hero beat-‘em-up comic with sex and swearing. They skipped the text pieces. They skipped the “boring stuff with the pirate comic.” And they found that if they threw the word “deconstruction” around when discussing the comic, they sounded smart.
And that’s the movie Zack Snyder is giving us: that shallow, superficial reading of the comic translated to film. I mean, honestly, what else did anyone expect?