Hopefully, the Last Word on Alan Moore and "Watchmen"

watchmenteaserposter-3.jpgMany things have been written about Alan Moore and Watchmen. Over the course of the film's productions, there have been numerous articles written about Moore's position on the film, some painting him as a justifiably upset, some painting him as irrational. It doesn't help that occasionally we read quotes from him saying unpleasant things about the production, and other times we read about Alan Moore just plain not giving a damn. Due to the nature of publishing, it's hard to place when and under what context exactly is he saying all these things. It saddens me that whenever I stumble across anything about the Watchmen movie, it is quickly followed by scathing comments by people who are clearly misinformed about the situation. Though Moore had made it clear over the years, I still see people saying stuff like "If he doesn't want the movies made, why give them the rights?" or people calling him a hypocrite for taking Hollywood's money and then bitching about it. DC Comics owns the rights to Watchmen, not Alan Moore, so he didn't really have a choice, except to refuse receiving money from it.

WatchmenComicMovie.com did an interview with Watchmen artist and co-creator Dave Gibbons (who is very supportive and involved with the movie) and asked about his current relationship with his friend Alan Moore. His answer is very lenghty, but hopefully this will explain once and for all what's going on.

First of all, I’d have to say that I don’t necessarily see that there is a conflict between staying friends with Alan and being an active and vocal promoter for the film. Alan’s position, as I’ve explained before publicly and I’ll make it clear again, Alan has had some bad experiences with Hollywood. He’s also had some less-than-happy experiences with DC. He’s decided that he doesn’t want anything to do with movie adaptations of his work. And so what he wanted at the beginning of Watchmen, when he first heard that it was going to be a movie, was to sign a piece of paper which removed his name from the movie and that would give his share of the income from the movie to me. This goes along exactly with what he’d wanted on the V for Vendetta movie. Obviously, Alan made this decision before he really knew anything at all about the movie and it was long before shooting started, or anything like that. So it’s not as a reaction to this production.

He has had a bad experience with Hollywood. I’ve had no real prior experience with Hollywood. And I have to tell you that the experience that I’m having so far — so far, as Alan has warned me — so far, my experience is very, very good. I’m being very well-treated, my input is being sought, and I did feel that I’m able to have a positive effect on what’s being done with the movie and everything to do with it.

Alan doesn’t have a problem with me doing that. He doesn’t take the moral high ground. It isn’t that he thinks that anything to do with movies is evil and wicked. He would say that he’s had a bad experience and that’s the truth. But it isn’t a thing that really comes between me and him at all. Initially, when I was doing my Watching the Watchmen book, I did ask him a few questions. I wanted to know, for instance, if I could use notes that he’d written, if it was okay to reproduce a few pages of script and he said that he didn’t have a problem with that. But at a later stage, he said to me during one of our phone conversations that he was very happy to talk to me — always happy to talk to me — and he felt that I’d behaved impeccably in all my dealings with him regarding Watchmen, but that he really didn’t share my enthusiasm and that he didn’t want to have any further conversations with me about Watchmen.

And that’s fine. If that’s what he wants, I’m happy not to talk to him about Watchmen at all. The last thing in the world that I want to do is to upset Alan. If he’s happy with that state of affairs, then that’s absolutely fine with me.

Now, I am an active and vocal promoter of the film, because from the very beginning, I haven’t had any doubts at all that everybody involved with it, from Zack through all the other people working on the movie, to the people doing the various licensed properties, the motion comic and so on, are anything other than totally committed to this. I’ve never had a sense of anybody thinking “It’s near enough, it’s good enough,” or doing anything to the characters that diminished them in any way. Given that there are bound to be differences between the graphic novel and an adaptation of a graphic novel, I really, genuinely believe that everybody involved is doing their best to bring all their skill and intelligence into making it as good an adaptation of the graphic novel as can possibly be.

If at any point I felt that wasn’t the case, I would say so. I’m not being paid just to say good things about it. There’s no point in me saying that the movie’s really good if I didn’t genuinely believe that it was really good. So within myself, I can perfectly reconcile being friends with Alan and being involved in the film in the way that I am. I hope I’m being true and faithful to both. I think that any conflict is a perception from the world outside. Particularly journalists who could see a story and I can see that it is quite an interesting story. I know that “Alan doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, he’s not playing ball with the evil system in Hollywood. Meanwhile, his so-called friend Dave Gibbons is taking the money and glad-handing everything.” That’s a fiction. That’s a journalistic fabrication. I’m sure it will come up again. It has come up before and I’m sure it will come up again. But I think that’s my comprehensive response to that.

Read the whole interview here.

No offense to Mr. Gibbons—who I am a big, big fan of—but I believe he owes his major involvement with the film to Alan's denouncement. It seemed obvious to me from the very beginning that Warner Bros. sought him out and netted him as a shield of some sort against the core audience. Typically, with comic book movies these days, it's important for the production to generate hype by pleasing the fans. With Alan Moore movies, that's hard to do due to his hatred of the Hollywood system. I remember back in 2005, at the Comic Con panel for V For Vendetta, Joel Silver and Natalie Portman came onstage towing artist David Lloyd with them, and he was pretty much used by Silver to deflect fan questions about Alan Moore. Hey, look, the artist is on board, so it's not completely without the creators' blessing! It's just that with Watchmen, Snyder is more respectful in actually asking Gibbons' input on the film's production and other areas.

The fact is, on a moral level I'm not exactly condemning the movie just because Alan Moore doesn't want it. I just don't understand the guts one has to possess to try and adapt something its creator had already spoken against. That takes a level of indifference beyond my comfort threshold. If I'm behaving negatively towards it, it's purely because I'm critically unimpressed by everything I've seen of the film. Call it fanboy stubbornness, but 300 was a flaming piece of shit, and this looks just about the same. That includes the following new trailer.

I do want to see the film and see if it manages to quell my worries, but it's irritating to me that Snyder is focusing heavily on the visual aspects and not the meat of what makes Watchmen work. Watchmen is all about the subtext and the relationships between the characters, and nothing Snyder has ever done indicates that he's comfortable with pulling believable emotions out of his actors. Certainly not 300.

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.


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