#7 TERRY GILLIAM’S WATCHMEN
Until Zack Snyder finally cracked the code and got this turned into a film, there were countless other attempts to turn one of the greatest comics of all time into a feature. The first known attempt came when movie producer extraordinaire Joel Silver landed the rights to the comic and approached director Terry Gilliam to helm the project. This sounds like a match made in heaven right? One of the most intellectual and talented filmmakers, who is well known for crafting deep and rich stories on film, adapting one of the best comics ever made? How could this fail? Boy, let me tell you…
Where this adaptation started to go off the rails was in terms of the casting. Joel Silver demanded that the role of Dr. Manhattan be played by The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Watchmen co-creator and artist Dave Gibbons recalled saying ‘Well, he’s got the physique, but the German accent…” to which Silver replied “It doesn’t matter!” Other actors rumored to be interested in the film were Richard Gere (Presumably for the Nite Owl role), and both Robin Williams and Gary Busey showing an interest in The Comedian.
The first draft of the Watchmen screenplay was written by Batman/Batman Returns scribe Sam Hamm, and it was substantially different from the source material. Instead of opening with the Comedian’s death, like the comics, the script began with a terrorist attack on the Statue of Liberty with the Watchmen (known as the Crimebusters in the comic) attempting to stop them. Dr. Manhattan fails to foil the plan of the leader, which ends up causing a huge public backlash for the heroes. It then jumped to the future where Rorschach learned about the Comedian’s death instead of us actually seeing it. From there it continued to come and go from the source material, with the ending being almost exactly as it appears in the comic.
The project ultimately came to an end when Gilliam went to talk to Watchmen creator Alan Moore, “I talked to [director] Terry Gilliam in the ’80s, and he asked me how I would make Watchmen into a film. I said, ”Well actually, Terry, if anybody asked me, I would have said, ‘I wouldn’t.”’ Gilliam soon left the project, citing it as ‘unfilmable’ and that it would be better served as a five hour mini-series.
The director of Pi almost turned Batman’s world upside down. Find out more on page 8!