Who watches the WATCHMEN? I do! The WATCHMEN panel at Comic-Con just wrapped and I'm here to tell you all about it. Can anything possibly match the fever pitch when Hugh Jackman hopped on stage to surprise the Hall H-ers?
Moderating the panel was Entertainment Weekly's Jeff "Doc" Jensen (who does a fantastic job with his "Lost" coverage BTW) and he introduced the panelees: Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino, Zack Snyder, Dave Gibbons and Matthew Goode. As you might expect Haley (Rorschach) and Morgan (The Comedian) got the most amount of applause. We were all anxiously awaiting some new footage from the movie but before we got that Snyder talked a little bit about the movie.
When asked how it came about that he was directing WATCHMEN he says that he was in post-production on 300 when Warner Bros. approached him about directing WATCHMEN. He thought it was an amazing opportunity but was afraid he'd screw it up. After ruminating on it, he realized if he passed, WB would find someone else who also could screw it up so at least he should try his hand at it. If anyone was going to screw it up he wanted it to be him.
Snyder said that it was a weird experience to have a "bible" for the movie, so to speak, but it was apparently very helpful to them to be able to reference the comic anytime they had any questions. Dave Gibbons said when he visited the set it was unbelievable to have The Comedian come and pat him on the back and to see the Owl Ship actually constructed and in front of him was so surreal and wonderful. When someone brought up Alan Moore, Gibbons acknowledged it was time to address the elephant in the room and simply explained that he wished Moore felt the same excitement he felt and how unfortunate it was that Moore got burned earlier in his career because he feels like he would really enjoy what's going on with WATCHMEN.
But you want to really hear about the footage right? Snyder acknowledged that he didn't want to just bring the trailer seeing as how everyone here already saw THE DARK KNIGHT so he made sure to put some new footage together. And...
The footage starts with a close-up of Rorschach's mask changing shape. Slow, operatic music plays in the background. A giant Dr. Manhattan walks through the fields of Vietnam using his powers to annihilate soldiers who are futilely trying to run away. Their bodies explode with gory blast. The signature drop of blood splashes on The Comedian's pin. Rorschach is walking through Comedian's apartment searching for clues. He opens his secret closet where all his superhero wares are kept. He looks at The Comedian's costume and his arsenal. We cut to Patrick Wilson (who looks absolutely amazing) as Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) sitting outside his costume chamber. He's schlumpy and sad.
A group photo of The Minutemen with the flash powder going off and Sally Jupiter rubbing her eyes. Dr. Manhattan and Laurie on Mars as their home rises and rotates around them. Laurie in Nite Owl's lair pulling a tarp off the dusty Owl Ship. The shot from the trailer with Jon Osterman transforming into Dr. Manhattan only this time more graphics (you slowly see him disintegrating). A tweezer slowly moving watch gears. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II sharing a kiss while a mushroom cloud erupts behind them. A shot of a presidential chair spins around and reveals Richard Nixon.
The Owl Ship breaks through the ice in Antarctica. A Vietnamese woman slashes Comedian across the face. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II break Rorschach out of jail. Silk Spectre II slowly unzips the front of her costume revealing her cleavage (I'm assuming we see a lot more in the movie). Dollar Bill shot dead. Comedian getting thrown through the window and slowly falling to the ground while his pin spins into frame and freeze on the classic logo.
Everything was in slow-motion and the special effects were fantastic. Dr. Manhattan looks better than I ever imagined he could. Yet oddly the response wasn't as insane as I had hoped. People were clearly excited but there wasn't a lot of insanity like TWILIGHT or WOLVERINE. But now it was time for a brief Q&A with the audience.
- When asked who his favorite Watchman was, Snyder hesitated but when the crowd booed, he relented and after ruling out Rorschach and Comedian (too popular), he settled on the two Silk Spectres.
- Synder said that a modern take on the movie would be all wrong and he was determined to keep it in its classic period. He said that makes people think instead of telling people what to think.
- Billy Crudup was asked about the difficulties in playing Dr. Manhattan and he said the biggest was that Dr. Manhattan is a 6'5" superhero with blue skin and he's a 5'6" 40-year-old jackass (his words, not mine).
- Jackie Earle Haley said he used the web as a tool to research Rorschach before filming and see what fans thought of him and all the different interpretations of that character.
- Patrick Wilson said getting ready to play his character was the best because while everyone else was worrying about getting and staying in shape, he was sitting down with a carton of Haggen Dazs and a six-pack of beer.
- A guy in a makeshift Rorschach costume came up to the mic and asked about how comic movies are now reaching a more mature audience. Snyder couldn't help but crack up and note the irony that a man in a homemade superhero costume would be talking about mature audiences for comic book movies.
- When asked about the Smashing Pumpkins music in the trailer, Snyder admitted that the fact it was the theme for one of the worst superhero movies (BATMAN AND ROBIN) was part of the reason he wanted to use it. Also the lyrics he felt held some significance to the plot of the movie. Despite that he has no plans for the song to be used in the film or the soundtrack.
Star Matthew Goode said he wanted to see the footage again and sure enough they threw us a bone and gave us one last look. While it was just as good the second time around, I couldn't help but feel that the panel was a little dry and impacted the response of the footage. Perhaps I expected the crowd to be more responsive considering it's one of the finest comic stories of all-time. But if the WATCHMEN trailer at all impressed you, wait until you get a chance to see this footage...