SDCC: Live Bloggin’ the Watchmen Panel!

Superhero Hype! is live bloggin’ the Watchmen presentation at the San Diego Comic-Con. Stay tuned for updates!

Hey, there… was able to get into the Hall H presentation thanks to the fine folks at Warner Bros., but just barely. Place is packed with no empty seats and a long line outside (or so I’ve heard). I had a chance of standing in the very front in a pen of sorts or find a seat towards the back further away from the big screen than I like, but I can see everything and hopefully keep up with everything said and shown during the panel. It’s scheduled to start in 12 minutes… we’ll see if they’re actually able to start on time. I have this strong feeling that this panel will be this year’s Spider-Man 3. There isn’t the type of low-level expectations as there was for Snyder’s 300 but after millions saw the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen before The Dark Knight and on the internet, the anticipation to see more footage and talk to the cast is palpable. Here’s hoping they deliver.

Oh, won’t be many pictures from the panel unfortunately, at least not from me… again, too far from the screens and have to use both my hands to type. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some pictures later. (Also, please pardon what I expect to be many typos… )

Didn’t get around to posting this yesterday but here’s a little scoop while you wait… Zack Snyder created a special title sequence for the start of the movie that’s not in the original Moore-Gibbons graphic novel for the sole purpose of showing the passage of time from the early days of the Minutemen to where we are in the film. I don’t think that will take the place of the flashbacks, but that’s a little tidbit while you wait. (That was told to us by Carla Gugino, who plays Sally Jupiter in the movie.)

The panel is moderated by Jeff Jensen from Entertainment Weekly, giving an intro about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel, before introducing Zack Snyder and the cast.

Everyone’s pretty stoked. (Ooo.. there’s a special guest.)

First out is Malin Ackerman who plays the Silk Spectre (man, she’s cute)…

Dr. Manhattan – Billy Crudup

Ozymandias – Matthew Goode

The first Silk Specter – Carla Gugino (big round of applause for her!)

Rorschach – Jackie Earle Haley! (“the sociopathic section of the panel”)

The Comedian – Jeffrey Dean Morgan

and finally… Night Owl – Patrick Wilson

They’re joined by the co-creator of Watchmen Dave Gibbons (is that the special guest?)

And of course, Zack Snyder!

(Music playing during the intros is “Times They Are a Changin'” by Bob Dylan)

Zack is recapping how the project came about. He says how it’s about knocking around Hollywood with a bunch of directors. He tells how when he was almost done with “300,” he got a call from Warner Bros. asking if he’d be interested, though he thought it was a crazy idea. He thought that if he didn’t say “yes” they’d move on and he’d feel that it was his fault if the movie didn’t come out good since he passed on it. He says it’s been a “labor of love” to try to get as much of the graphic novel into the movie as he could. He says that the cast has kept on top of him keeping to the dialogue in the graphic novel as well. As with 300, he was using the original graphic novel as a bible for the movie as much as the screenplay. He says the cast has absorbed the material as much as he and his production crew to remain consistent to the book and characters.

(Zack seems fairly nervous, which wasn’t the case last year or the year before when he was here for 300… not too much pressure to deliver a great movie, huh?)

He reminded everyone how he was at Comic-Con last year with no footage but with the special poster by Dave Gibbons. He was saying how everyone was speculating that the teaser in front of The Dark Knight would just be the word “Watchmen” with the date, so he worked on getting some shots together to put in the trailer.

Dave Gibbons talks about being on the set and seeing the stuff he drew come to life, saying it was like a dream. He was impressed to be able to go inside the Owl Ship and to smell the Comedian’s cigar and “feel his guns.” It was like “being a kid at Christmas.” He thought it was incredible to be in the middle of the Manhattan set built for the movie. (By the way, Gibbons wrote a book called “Watching the Watchmen” about the behind-the-scenes that went into the making of the movie.) He says that his signature “G” in a box ended up in the graffiti on the walls.

Jensen asked Gibbons if he ever wanted to go back to England and tell Alan Moore that he should check it out. “I wish that Alan could have the same sort of excitement and experience that I have,” he responded.

Zack is setting up the first clip and saying how he didn’t want to just show the trailer again. Basically, it will be a couple of shots from the trailer that are extended to show the non-PG aspect of the movie which includes Dr. Manhattan blowing guys up in Vietnam (probably with full frontal nudity? we’ll see)

Okay, no full frontal nudity, but it starts with Manhattan blowing up guys in Vietnam as promised, really blowing them up into atoms. That’s followed by an image of the Comedian’s smiley face with a drop of blood splattered on it like the classic image from the comics. We see Rorschach walking into a room, which is the Comedian’s lair and we get to see the first images of the ink on his mask changing shapes. Next image is of Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg (aka Night Owl but out of costume) sitting down with a lot of angst on his face (probably after finding out about the first deaths?) There is a scene with the Minutemen from the ’50s with the Comedian and Sally Jupiter in their early guises.

We see the formation of the palace on Mars which looks pretty amazing since it’s extended from the trailer, as well as an image of a watch as we see the early stages of Dr. Manhattan’s transformation. Another shot of the modern Silk Spectre unveiling the Owl Ship, pulling the covering from it. Lots more images of clocks and watches and more of Dr. Manhattan’s transformation, again from the trailer.

The next image was really cool, showing Nite Owl and Silk Spectre kissing from the dream sequence with the nuclear mushroom in the background… very cool, as well as a shot of President Nixon, The Comedian being slashed by his Vietnamese girlfriend/wife. A little bit of Matthew Goode’s Ozymandias, and some of Silk Spectre and Night Owl fighting crime. At this point, there are a lot of images that went by very fast, but essentially, it’s all stuff that’s in the comics with little bits of each of the characters. Rorshach looks very cool, though we never see him unmasked. There was no actual dialogue or narration in the clip reel as well as no titles, just some great scoring presumably by Tyler Bates and it all ends with the sequence of the Comedian being thrown out the window with the blood-splattered smiley face button following him, which looks amazing, just like the graphic novel. It looks great and hopefully they’ll shot it again!! (We love Zack for doing that for 300 a couple years ago.)

Jensen is asking Billy Crudup about portraying Dr. Manhattan but I have to finish writing up the trailer. Jackie Earl Haley was asked about getting his head around Rorschach.

Guy dressed like Batman just asked about his favorite Watchmen character… Snyder said that he liked the women the best though he said that most people like The Comedian and Rorschach.

Jensen then asks Patrick Wilson about gaining weight to play Night Owl and Wilson is raving about the costume and how it looks awesome (it does actually)… he says that he missed playing Dan and was glad to be able to see him in the footage because we don’t really see him in the trailer. “He’s flabby, he’s morose, he’s down on his luck, and yet, when you look at the first few panels, especially when Rorschach go down to the Owl chamber… I love the fact that it’s not something you get when it’s something you read in the book. For me that was so informative. That helped me so much (to see the artwork)… he’s so down but he has this light in his eyes.” He’s glad that Dave’s artwork is so informative of how to play the character essentially and that’s what got him into playing Dan Dreiberg/Night Owl. He was saying how when Dan puts on the suit he “feels like a man.”

Snyder was asked about how dark and nihilistic the book is and whether the movie would be equally dark. He says that it is a reflection on “all of us” but he says that there are no real answers in the book or movie but that the movie is about “what is darkness?” he’s talking about some really heavy topics/issues of the graphic novel/movie… he’s comparing it to the darkness in the “Saw” movies and he made a joke that someone gets their arm cut off in his movie but he was probably joking. (Man, it’s hard to keep up with Snyder when he starts rambling).

Oh, almost forgot… some guy asked Billy Crudup if the Blue Man Group was upset they weren’t included in the movie. (ba dum bum)

Challenges of getting the text of Watchmen into a three-hour script, and Snyder was saying that all the supplemental material with no images was incorporated (or at least they tried to) into the movie. He mentions an image of Dollar Bill getting his cape stuck in a door but I didn’t remember seeing that in the footage. He says that they had a basic structure and that for him, he knew he’d have to cut some stuff but that he wanted to keep the tone and story. He said that some of the bits cut were more “actiony”… interesting.

Someone dressed as Rorschach asking whether there’s any more mature comic book movies he’d like to direct, and there was something very funny about someone dressed as Rorschach asking about it (That’s Zack’s joke, not mine.) He says that superhero movies shouldn’t just be summer popcorn mindless entertainment and that this is important and it talks about humanity and is serious. He’s saying how serious actors and filmmakers are turning comics into serious movies. He says that he’d love to see Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” turned into a movie. (Yeah, like that might happen.)

A cute woman from a website I’ve never heard of asked the actors about working on green screen and blue screen, but they didn’t do much using it for this movie except for the shots on Mars. They’re all talking about how weird it was working with Crudup on set wearing 140 sensor dots and a battery pack and glowing blue, since he was replaced by a CG character. Carla Gugino had experience doing stuff on green screen for “Sin City” so she talked a little bit about it and owed how it worked all to the actors and Zack’s vision. (Fairly stock answers to be honest… sorry Watchmen actors.)

Now Jeffrey Dean Morgan is being asked about playing the Comedian. “There were days that I got home from work and I’d be in a daze. He does some particular things that I wouldn’t naturally do as a person, but like Dan’s character, we all pull for the Comedian.” (big laugh) “Every day was a challenge. I found getting into the costume and putting a cigar in my mouth helped get me into the mood to kill people.” He referred to the days shooting with Carla (the rape scene with Sally Jupiter presumably) was something that stuck with him for a long time.

Now talking to Matthew Goode, who talked a bit about how Ozymandias slips a little German into his speech patterns as the character and he’s talking about the strange “sides” (or script pages) he received to learn for his audition, and having known nothing about the book, he had no idea what they meant, and that a friend of his looked up the character and said “Well, buddy, it looks like you’re playing another gay… but at least he’s a stoner.” Goode is hilarious and gets lots of laughs especially with his constant use of the “F” word. I’ll have to transcribe some of these full answers later, especially this one… it’s pretty rambling and I’ve given up trying to keep up with him. Also, my laptop is running out of battery… uh oh. Basically, the long story short is that Ozymandias has a half-American half-German accent.

Zack was asked about the Smashing Pumpkins song that was playing over the clip reel, and he said that tonally it made sense but also that it had irony, but he didn’t think it would be included in the soundtrack of the movie. Nothing about the music that played with the footage.

Holy crap… two identical twins just asked one question between them that Zack dodged… Be right back.

Sorry, missed some great stuff from Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino talking about their characters, but Zack said he hadn’t heard the rumors of them doing a DVD that covers all of the previous versions of the Watchmen by Gilliam, etc.

That’s it… gotta run.

Source: Edward Douglas