Its been a really great year for comic movies, which means that the end is near. Every time good movies start coming out in tandem, you can expect the good times to stop rolling and for heads to steady roll off and drop into trashcans. However, there is a chance that comic movies will continue to do right by us, as long as we are very, very careful. The upcoming Watchmen movie will either destory the happy times, or solidfy them. After the break, I’ll explain exactly why this is, and why comic movies should never, ever be truly based off the source material. Spoilers are very much ahead.
Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, is a great graphic novel. It could be an amazing movie. Or it could be really bad. The story is about a world that has banned superheroes. The few superheroes left find out about a plot by a mad man to stop all war and create world peace. To do this, he kills millions of people and convinces the world that Aliens tried to invade. That’s how the book ends. It isn’t a happy ending, really. It is very Alan Moore, and Alan Moore never translates well. Alan Moore’s ideas and visions are always great. But his endings have always been butchered. The common movie-goer won’t like how he sees the world, or us. Most of his graphic novels put the spotlight on the very people who watch these movies. V for Vendetta was good, and delivered a message. But the comic book was far more complex, far more interesting, far more lingering. No movie based off Alan Moore’s work has yet to move his energy from comic to film.
That is what might ruin Watchmen. If the movie stays very close to the comic, then the fans of the comic will hate the fact that it wasn’t close enough. If the movie strays, the fans will hate it for straying. And the people inbetween, the regular non-fanboys, won’t know the difference. Most people haven’t read Watchmen. So most people won’t care if the movie isn’t a direct translation. Some of the Watchmen is a bit dated, too. I have no desire to see a fat Nite-Owl fighting on screen. The Cold War is over, and this is a different world with different political implications. And Alan Moore has a strange fascination with rape and female characters. He does. The female lead in V for Vendetta the movie was nothing like the comic. In the comic, she was a hooker. Seriously.
Movies aren’t comics. And they shouldn’t worry about it. Comic fans will go and see Watchmen and they will hate it. They will hate it because someone dared to make the movie, and dared to put pretty people in the roles. But if the average movie goer likes Watchmen, especially with the shocking ending, then we all win a few more years of comic book goodness.