This past week, comic fans were treated to the first look at the actors in costume for the film adaptation of the Watchmen comic book series, coming out in 2009.
I have not been looking forward to this film.
Many of you familiar with me might find that unusual. I tend to look forward to comic films, and am quite often disappointed not merely because they aren't good, but because I've also built the film up in my head, knowing how good it could be.
Superman Returns, anyone?
Watchmen, though, you have to understand, is different for me.
Watchmen was written by Alan Moore, who is quite vocal about his comics not being meant for film translation. And, in truth, they don't usually fair well in the process. One need only look at the unwatchably bad League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to see that.
See, Alan Moore makes no apologies for writing for comics. As such, he actually writes FOR comics, using the advantages of the medium - pacing, visual cues and tricks, textual emphasis, etc. The fact is, many of those advantages can't be translated to the big screen, making a film adaptation inherently disadvantaged.
So, you may ask, why am I okay with Batman and Spider-Man and others being translated to film? Why am I far more hopeful with those?
Those characters, by virtue of coming out in multiple monthly doses, tend to not use the craft of the comic medium to the extent that one time, limited series do. I mean, Spider-Man comes out with 22 pages, three times a month! Watchmen was a twelve issue limited series. The characters were used only for those twelve books, and that was it.
It isn't to say that all Batman or Spider-Man stories can be adapted for film. There are prestige projects and limited series that DO use the medium. Off hand, Return of the Dark Knight (Batman) and Kraven's Last Hunt (Spider-Man) are two stories that I don't think should ever be attempted in other forms than on a comic page.
In my opinion, and just mine, Watchmen is probably the one piece of comic literature that takes full advantage of the comic medium.
Yeah, I'm say that Watchmen is the best example of what a comic book can be.
Others don't agree, and that is fine. For me, though, I've never seen anything that uses the medium better. There is a reason I own only one Absolute Edition hardcover of a comic project, and there is a reason that it is Watchmen.
(By the way, yeah, it is beautiful. These Absolute Editions are pretty amazing.)
And, right now, I'm sitting here, realizing that this wasn't even what I was going to talk about in this blog. Let us get back on track, and I'll close out. In case you haven't seen the images of the costumes from the movie, here is a look.
Rorschach in the movie:
Rorschach in the comic:
Okay, really, the only way they could ruin this one was to put the character in spandex. Regular clothes, an overcoat, a Fedora, and a mask is all they needed, and, thankfully, that is what they went with. I've heard that the constantly changing shapes in the mask will be CGI, and I'm curious about how that will look on the screen.
The Comedian in the movie:
The Comedian in the comic:
I'm actually pretty pleased with this. It is nearly identical, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan looks like he can pull this off. I do hope that the white hair at the temples doesn't look quite as sprayed on in the film, but given these are still promo shots, it is easy to pick up on problems like that.
Silk Spectre in the movie:
Silk Spectre in the comic:
The first major departure from the original material. Understandable, really. The costume in the comic is essentially a swimsuit under a translucent raincoat. Not that the movie costume looks any less ridiculous, but I can see that it may come across better on screen.
Ozymandias in the movie:
Ozymandias in the comic:
Another major departure, and this one I do have a little bit of a problem with. Don't get me wrong - the comic costume probably wouldn't work in the movie. That much gold/yellow would probably look bad on the bigscreen (which is the reason you'll never see Wolverine in his yellow costume in a film). The problem is that the movie costume is TOO dark. It needs to be a lot lighter. In the comics, there seemed to be a reason for this, never overtly mentioned, but one I percieved. The dark kinda ruins that. (And, yeah, I'm being vague on purpose, so I don't spoil anything for anyone wanting to read the comic or see the movie.)
Nite Owl in the movie:
Nite Owl in the comic:
Wow, HUGE departure here. I understand it, but, wow. The comic costume was too plain for the movies and that cowl/cape probably would have hindered the actors vision. Still, this was the schocking costume for me. Kinda Batman-ish. It seems a little much to me, but I'm willing to give it the chance. Maybe it will grow on me.
There you have it. The first look at the characters in the film. I'm still doubtful about the movie, even though I know the makers of the film are trying desperately to stay close to the original material. But, give me credit - I am trying to hold off judgment.
It isn't easy.
I'll type at you later.