We were lucky enough to be at the Watchmen panel just now at Comic-Con, and director Zack Snyder showed some new footage from the movie, including a glimpse of Nite Owl in his headquarters. Billy Crudup talked about what it's like to play the most famous blue naked guy in the universe. Update: There's a clip of Patrick Wilson talking about playing Nite Owl.
New exclusive footage:
We saw an exclusive red-band trailer that included some more adult-ish scenes from the movie. It started out with a close-up of Rohrshach's mask, then Dr. Manhattan blowing up vietnames people, who were literally exploding into pieces. Then the famous smiley face pin with blood falling on it. Rohrshach walking into flickering neon room, the Comedian's lair, looking at weapons and headlines like "Murderous Rampage Averted," and a picture of the Silk Spectre. We get to see the shapes on hishis mask transform and it looks amazingly cool. And we see some armor in the Comedian's lair. And then it switches to Nite Owl in his headquarters loking downcast and weary. And then the original Silk Specter posing for a photo with other 1940s heroes and rubbing her eyes, and then the Comedian leers at her. And then we saw a sparkling CGI rendering of the pirate ship from the Black Fortress, and a clock flickering. And then Sally unveils the Nite Owl Ship, pulling a big cloth off of it.
And someone is running a magnifying glass over tons of small clock gears, and then we see a clock ticking, and we watch Billy Crudup transform into Dr. Manhattan, with his flesh melting away into a skeleton. And we see Silk Spectre and Nite Owl lean in to kiss each other as a shooting star falls in the background, and then it turns into a nuclear explosion. The President swivels around in his chair and oh my god it's Nixon! And we saw the Nite Owl ship bursting up through the ice, and the Comedian fighting someone and totally fucking him up. And then some 1940s heroes bowling. And Dr. Manhattan obliterating someone who's pulled a gun on him - literally blasting them into pixels. And there's an amazingly sexy shot of Silk Spectre looking badass followed by a closeup of her torso as she pulls her top open, exposing a ton of cleavage. And then there's more Rohrshach, leaning in to intimidate someone, and then the Comedian falling out the window, tumb ling helplessly through the air and blood falling onto that smiley face badge again.
More details of the panel in a few moments.
On deciding to do Watchmen:
Watchmen has been knocking around Hollywood for quite awhile. There's been a bunch of directors, as you know. I was in post on 300 and got a call from Warner Bros., and they asked me if I wanted to make it and I was like, nah. But then I figured if I passed on it and someone else made it, and it failed, it would be my fault.
On the actors and faithfulness to the text:
It's been, for me anyway, a labor of love to try and get as much of the graphic novel into this movie as I could. And the cast has been super awesome in helping me at every turn, telling me, "My character says this, see? This little circle by his head, that's what he says." I like that they at least read the graphic novel — so that's cool — and liked it, all of them.
It's weird to have a Bible for the movie. It's a strange experience. When you make a movie, you have a script and that's the movie. When you have this Bible, you go and say, it would be cool to get this part in the movie and this experience in the movie. And the thing that's really cool is these guys, they've absorbed the material in the way that, when they want to get this character or this action, it's always what is Watchmen-y and what is consistent with the book and what would make sense with the book. And I mean that in the best possible way, in a loving way. They've been a super-great cast to help me as a filmmaker, get this thing shot, and realized I thank them for that — for being my partners in that, I guess.
On seeing the sets:
At any moment I expected I was going to be pinched and I was going to wake up. It's just the stuff of dreams.
The thing that really did it for me was to stand inside the Owl Ship, and to smell the Comedian's cigar... to have the Comedian slap me on the back and show off his guns. I was completely thrilled. It was like being a kid at Christmas, and I wanted it to just go on.
On his signature on the movie:
Gibbons' signature is a little G with a box around it and ... One of the prop guys plastered the little G all over the place so when I see the movie it's got my signature in it
On the movie's era, message, and politics:
There's a lot of things in the graphic novel that comment on mass culture and how the world is evolved now. And I just think that making the movie about the War on Terror, and... trying to jam these guys into a our modern politics seemed kind of wrong to me. (Applause) It's cooler if people go, "You know what that makes me think?", rather than me telling them what to think. That's what the book does; it asks a lot of moral questions and in the end you have to answer them for yourselves.
On the challenge of playing Dr. Manhattan:
Dr. Manhattan is unlike anything I have a frame of reference for. You have to take a view on how he goes about living a mundane life, how you pretend to be the 6 '4" master of matter when you're a 5'9" jackass playing dress-up. those were my two main obstacles, and I did the best I could.
On Dan Dreiberg:
I love Dan. I miss Dan. You always pull for Dan. You want him to pull through. He's flabby. He's morose. He's down on his luck. He's lost. He's all these really negative words, when you look at the first few panels, especially.
When Rorschach and I go down to the Owl Chamber (in the graphic novel), there's a shot of him saying, "You don't think that' s a little paranoid?" And there's a little smile on his face. That's a whole different level when you get to see the artwork [than just reading a script]. It's not like I try do the same poses, but that helped me so such to see that the guy who's so down... still has a light. You see this sense of smile, these shots in the graphic novel that he's smiling and you see him fighting for it. That's something that keyed me into Dan. The relationship he has with Hollis, trying to find out how he adjusted to the post-superhero life, you pull for the guy the entire time. And once you got on board, those first few scenes was a rollercoaster. Every time you put on the suit, you look like a badass and you feel like a badass. And that must be how Dan feels. Obviously you feel like a man, for obvious reasons. It gives him an identity. It's just awesome.
On the tone:
Is the movie too dark? Are we going too far down this dark path that people slit their wrists and call it ad day? You have these optimistic characters in the book that are trying to muddle thorugh and trying to find his way. It's a reflection on all of us, and these answers...you feel you've gone to the end of it. At the end of the graphic novel, there's a moral question that gets answered, and really there is no answer. It becomes up to you. It really is about what is darkness in a movie. If someone is psychotic and they do something that's morally maybe what anybody would consider in society correct, is a it a metaphor or is it real? That's the question that's the question of Watchmen. Is it dark just for the sake of "Oh, it's just for the titillation?" SAW is dark because they get their arms sawn off. People get their arms sawn off in our movie, too, but for different reasons, for moral reasons, to teach a lesson.
Adapting is a challenge. There is all the supplemental material in the book, which has no images that come along with it, but i wanted to try and get some of that in the movie as well. Just the pictures alone would get you a five hour movie.
In there you saw Dollar Bill with his cape caught in a revolving door, It's an interesting superhero moment, the idea that capes area an issue, which I find really, when you start to think about superhero mythology, those are moments of importance. In the adaptation of this graphic novel to script you kind of have a basic structure. It was about, for me, you're going to end up with some stuff that's not in there. I wanted to get at character. I wanted to get at the why of Watchmen. We had to get rid of some bits that some people might consider more action-y and less about the inhabitants of Watchman and the big picture.
On superhero films for mature audiences:
The Dark Knight is just a good movie right? Superhero movies, comic book movies don't just exist as summer mindless popcorn entertainment. This is important. It talks about humanity and it's important and serious. Serious actors and serious filmmakers are making these into cool movies. There's a lot of other graphic novels out there. I would like to see one day Frank's Dark Knight [Returns] made into a movie someday. That's just me. There is a new wave superhero movies coming.
[Zack also confirmed that there will characters who are in the graphic novel but not in the film, and vice versa.]
Thanks to Lauren Davis for editing help.