When it finally opened in 2009, Watchmen had been developing for decades under a great many different people. One of them was Terry Gilliam, who’d been attached in the ’90s to helm from a script by Charles McKeown with Joel Silver producing. Alas, they were unable to make it work, and the project eventually fell into Zack Snyder‘s lap.
Silver’s main problem with Snyder’s adaptation is that it was “too much of a slave to the source material.” And I have to say, Gilliam’s take seems like it would’ve been a fresh look at the source material with a far more meta turn in the end. From Coming Soon:
What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been.
He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from Watchmen only became characters in a comic book…
So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they’re all of the sudden in Times Square and there’s a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There’s a kid reading the comic book and he’s like, “Hey, you’re just like in my comic book.” It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn’t happen. Lost to time.
Now I don’t think there is any other ending to Watchmen than the one we got from Alan Moore. That said, GIlliam’s could have provided a more satisfactory ending that the Snyder film (even if it has its supporters).
I’ve always been a big fan of Gilliam and his creative style. Brazil is probably one of my all-time favorite films and Twelve Monkeys is something I always find myself sucked into when I come across it on television.
It’s hard to know if the Silver/Gilliam Watchmen would’ve been a success, but it certainly would have been a creative risk worthy of the effort. Then again, I feel that Spongebob might be the perfect vehicle for a Watchmen adaptation.
(Via Coming Soon)