Watchmen director Zack Snyder has settled the issue of the movie's ending once and for all. And Watchmen purists? You may want to take a valium before reading what Snyder has to say. He also explained exactly how action-packed his movie of Alan Moore's classic graphic novel will be, and told you what elements from the book you should be insisting on in his film. There's spoilers aplenty, just below. Visiting Australia, Snyder showed off some footage from Watchmen, and sat down for an interview with Dark Horizons. And of course, they asked about the roiling controversy over the Portland screenings, where people saw a version that didn't include the famous "giant squid" ending. Here's what Snyder says:
The squid was not in the movie when I got the script, the squid was never in any draft that I saw. My point is only that there was this elegant solution to the squid problem that I kind of embraced. I'm a fan of the thing as much as anyone, I was saying what are we going to do about this before I even read the script." Was that solution multiple atomic explosions as some have said? "I won't say exactly but... Dr. Manhattan has a certain energy signature, it's clearly his thing...so you know.
Did you know there was a "squid problem"? Apparently there was. The thing about Dr. Manhattan's "energy signature" jibes with the reports, from the screenings, that instead of creating a fake alien attacker, Ozymandias causes some nuclear explosions and frames Dr. Manhattan for them. Also, Snyder "shot down reports of multiple endings," says Dark Horizons. "They only filmed the one."
But fans who fixate on the squid are missing the point, Snyder insists:
The fans, god love 'em, they're all up in arms about the squid. What they should be up in arms about are things like shooting the pregnant woman, 'God is real and he's American', whether THAT's in the movie. That's my point of view, maybe I'm crazy.
He says the new ending is still true to the characters and keeps the "moral imperative" from the original graphic novel. Meanwhile, Snyder admits he's nervous about how well the film will do at test screenings. He's gone out of his way to warn Warner Bros. that this won't be a slam dunk with test audiences, the way his earlier movie 300 was.
Some people are going to go, "what the fuck is this?", And I go, "That's okay." That's the thing that you fight... The one thing that was cool was that anyone who had read the graphic novel who was at the screening rated the film "Excellent." For me, I'm like, "I'm done."
Reading between the lines, it sounds like maybe people at the first test screening who hadn't read the original graphic novel didn't rate the film "Excellent"? Just guessing here. Also, Snyder is especially worried about Asian audiences, because Japan didn't even like The Dark Knight.
Also, you may have gotten the impression from the trailers and early footage that Watchmen is a non-stop ninja-tastic slugfest with crazy action scenes. Actually, says Snyder, there are very few action scenes in the film. There's the scene of the Comedian fighting for his life, early on, which does last longer than in the comic, because it lets us see what a badass the Comedian is, so we realize that an ordinary assailant would have had no chance against him. And then Nite Owl's brutal alley fight, which is super graphic, including a compound arm fracture and blood spraying everywhere — which is interspersed with Dr. Manhattan's TV interview.
Other tidbits: Snyder says the "director's cut," including the animated "Black Freighter" comic, will clock in at three-and-a-half hours. He wants the standalone "Black Freighter" DVD to be a collector's item, maybe including some kind of movie prop, that you can put on your shelf. And he says people have been puzzled by the inclusion of the song "99 Luftballons" by Nena in the movie's soundtrack, not realizing that the song is about nuclear war. The Comedian's funeral is a huge set piece, and then we follow Dan through the riots, the Comedian's tour in Vietnam with Dr. Manhattan, and Adrian at crimebusters headquarters. Snyder's son, who played the young Leonidas in 300, cameos as a young Rorschach. And finally, the new Watchmen trailer, which shows before Quantum Of Solace this weekend, is a bit more story-based, pushing the mystery of who's killing the costumed heroes. It includes people saying things like "We were supposed to make the world a better place," and "What happened to the American dream?" [Dark Horizons]