The first thing that director Zack Snyder ever revealed about the studio's planned "changes" to Watchmen was: the studio wanted to take it out of the 80s. He told us this back in October, but still felt like worth mentioning if we're going to list off all the hoops Snyder had to jump through just to get Watchmen where it is today. So the first edit he had to deal with was updating Watchmen to the 00s and the war on terror.
It would have been an updated George Bush-era film, where the Minutemen team had been hunting down terrorists. But Snyder's love for Nixon's Watchmen involvement brought him back to the table, asking Warner Brothers to trust him that 1985 is the right way to start the movie, and "maybe we should just leave it the way it is."
See, this is where I would have been fired as a director. The things I would have thrown in that meeting — truly Snyder has a long fuse, because it gets so much better. Next up the higher ups wanted to know if they could do away with all that silly back story, and just focus in on Rorschach and his quest to uncover Edward Blake's murderer. Snyder told us about this tricky battle recently, saying;
The funny thing is when we were ready to shoot we had updated the script to equal the storyboards it was about 160 pages just monstrous. They [the studio] said, well we've looked at the script and we've identified three areas where you can cut. The Comedian's funeral (you don't really need to do that), and they were like Manhattan goes to Mars (nothing happens there), and you don't need to interrogate Rorscach. You don't need to know anything about his back story.
So now they've cut out all the character depth what's next? Well, good should win in the end, right? So why not KILL ADRIAN VEIDT? According to Snyder;
They said, you could take those three sections out of the movie and you could have a nice tight little story. And I said, [makes a face] 'Yeah eeeeh ok.' Then [the studio continued on] 'You know what else troubles us. You've changed the ending again and Adrian lives? We really liked the old version where Dan like crashed the Owl ship and killed Adrian with it at the very end.' And I said, 'Yeah that's really not cool. That's like the opposite of the movie.' I kind of held off. I didn't trick 'em, but I did wait quite a while before I actually said, 'We can't have Adrian die at the end, it's impossible. It's like a superhero movie, then, and a bad one.'
...I don't guarantee you, but I would wager a lot, that if this movie had been done somewhere else or some other way, those are the exact things that wouldn't be in the movie.
I know we complain a lot as fans of the book, but seriously thank you Snyder. You clearly had to fight a lot of up hill battles, thanks for not letting this movie turn into this: