Watchmen was once considered one of the most unfilmable of comic books. The 1986 postmodern tale on superheroes depicted an alternate 1985 where superheroes have not only reshaped the world but are now more morally ambiguous or adrift. It was a story that tackled nuclear weapons, questionable tactics of vigilantes, the deeper questioning on the importance of one’s life, and the warped sense of justice that sometimes comes with the cape. The comic book questioned and criticized superheroes to a degree that no other comic did. It was one of the most defining graphic novels by writer Alan Moore. So when it gained in popularity and film studios looked into adapting it into a film, there were many attempts that failed before Zack Snyder’s version hit theaters in 2009.
Many directors were tapped for such a project prior, such as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, and Tim Burton. Paul Greengrass was also considered and he opened up to the Happy Sad Confused Podcast about what his version of Watchmen would’ve come out as:
“I wanted to believe these characters lived in the real world and that a lot of what they were thinking and doing was delusional. There was something in Joker that had [a similar]quality to it. Joker was in a real-world [setting], and he was filled with delusions, and [so the story idea was]superheroes’ identities were within people’s minds and were interior delusions as opposed to actualities. And the [movie]idea would have been where [the two ideas]join, if that makes sense.”
The Watchmen film has been released since its theatrical debut in a more complete cut but still retains Snyder’s bombastic style. A Watchmen sequel miniseries (sequel to the comic not the movie version) debuted on HBO in 2019, winning several Emmy awards.