Your friends don't have time to read Watchmen before seeing the movie? Give them a crash course. The Watchmen Film Companion explains everything, with concept art and making-of photos. A few more cool images, below.
You can probably read The Watchmen Film Companion, from Titan Books, in an hour... if you don't get distracted by all the incredible art and photos. Pretty much every one of the book's 176 pages contains eye-popping images I haven't seen elsewhere.
Some of them are just brilliant-looking stills from the film, showing quite how nice all the imagery is. But they also include tons of storyboards, concept art, artists' renderings of the characters from the film and portrait photos of the characters. And most of all, tons and tons of easter eggs that you'll never spot in the film the first time around. Like that giant mural welcoming Vietnam as the 51st. state of the USA. Or Adrian Veidt's electric car and African famine relief campaign. I knew director Zack Snyder was detail-obsessed and OCD, but I still discovered extra layers of OCD-ness looking through this book.
Here are some of our favorite images among the hundreds in the book:
OMG, I just found an image of Silk Spectre I standing over Hitler with her boot on his back. It's sort of fetishy and awesome.
The book is a nice blend between a making-of book and a primer on the film for newbies. Writer Peter Aperlo divides the book into seven easy chapters. Three chapters deal with pre-production, production and post-production. Another chapter explains the world of Watchmen, and there's a separate chapter on the characters. Dr. Manhattan gets a chapter of his own as well. Pretty much anyone who reads this book will emerge with a high level of Watchmen geekery.
I thought I was oversaturated with Watchmen movie knowledge, but I still learned a lot from this book.
Aperlo explains how Snyder created his storyboards and art references, not only from the graphic novel but from tons of 1985-era photos. And it delves into the reasons for that title-sequence montage, which is intended to "force the audience to re-imagine the past by viewing it through a Watchmen lens." Also, I didn't realize before that the film production had considered shooting on one of the stock New York streets in Burbank, before building its own chunk of Manhattan in Vancouver. And did you know that one of the guys working on the Dr. Strangelove-inspired NORAD sequences had actually worked on Dr. Strangelove? Me neither.
Also interesting: Snyder explains why he insisted on shooting the movie in script order, rather than wildly out of order the way most movies are shot. And the section on post-production not only talks CG, sound and music, but also the way the film-makers tried to highlight little touches like the changes in Nite Owl II's face when he descends into brutality avenging the murder of Nite Owl I. (A scene that's not in the final cut, sadly.)
For the newbies, there's an actual chart showing the Wachmen timeline from the 1930s to the 1980s, including every little reference in the film. Seriously, it's insane. It compares the real-life history with the film's alternate history and includes relevant superhero stuff. And the book walks you through the history of superheroes in this world, including the earliest origins and the Keene Act. The character profiles include all the minor characters, like Captain Metropolis and the Knot-Tops, as well as everybody who gets even a moment of screen time in the film.
And there are insane quotes, like this one from Snyder: "You have anyone who's been alive in the 20th Century and observed pop culture. That person can also see in Watchmen the culmination of all the pop ideas of the 20th Century finally intersecting at nuclear war and super heroes and fast food and fucking."