Bringing a graphic novel to life in a movie is a tall order for any filmmaker. To successfully accomplish this, it requires a few things: staying true to the source material, offering a lifelike realization of what was written on the page, and a well-imagined visual language. For all intents and purposes, 2009’s Watchmen accomplished all three of these things. All the changes they made for the film were necessary for the format, while mirroring Alan Moore’s graphic novel in all the right ways. So why was Zack Snyder’s movie generally considered to be a flop?
You can point to a number of factors that sunk Snyder’s movie. First and foremost, we have the astronomical three and a half hour runtime. Unless it’s the extended edition of a Lord of the Rings movie, sending a movie over the three hour mark is a death knell for an audience that’s losing its attention span more and more every day. Additionally, it could be argued that the Watchmen graphic novel is ill-suited for cinema. It features a massive pile of social commentary concerning the way we view our heroes and Cold War America, all set in a noir-esque storyline.
Now, Collider tells us that redemption is in the works for the graphic novel in the form of a possible TV show. Per the report, Zack Snyder is in “preliminary discussions regarding Watchmen” with HBO. It goes on to note that no official deal is in place, but this bodes well for at least the possibility of a full series. What it also means is that Watchmen could be arriving in a format taylor-made for its story. The movie version was over three hours for a reason: It’s a dense freaking story, and there’s no better place to unravel this story than in a 10-episode season.
The possibilities are endless for a potential HBO series. Outside of the original Watchmen graphic novel, there’s also a prequel series titled Before Watchmen that DC released back in 2012. Either or both would make for an intriguing show, and with Zack Snyder at the helm, the sky is truly the limit here. On HBO, Snyder won’t have to worry about appealing to a wider movie audience, or even the waning attention span of millennial America. Rather, he’ll be free to carefully construct the Watchmen universe piece by piece, no longer tied down by the limitation of the film format.
As a DC property, we can feel comfortable in the quality from the source. DC’s TV universe, while not entirely shared, is still a rousing success. Already, they’ve successfully launched Arrow and The Flash, and soon will add Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl to their ranks. There’s no question that they’re looking to continue their expansion in the ongoing arms race with their Marvel competitors. While Marvel is largely constrained by the double-edged sword of their shared film and TV universe, a Watchmen series on HBO would be free to construct its own unique world based solely on its source material.
Even with all this, we still don’t have an official confirmation that this will eventually come to pass. What we do know is that the 2009 Watchmen movie is unfairly overlooked in the realm of stellar superhero movies. If Zack Snyder and HBO and put all the necessary pieces in place, it would mark a return to relevancy for a property that deserves a larger stage to tell its story. For now, the wait and see approach is all we can lean on as more news streams in.
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