Sunday, March 01, 2009

Some thoughts on Watchmen

I've never been a fan of comic books or films based on comic books. I find the whole idea of "fan boys" as seriously depressing. Yes, I'm just as much of a loser as some would say these people are, but I have found other ways to express my obsessive tendencies. I have nothing against comic fans but I can think of many more other areas to be interested in than super heroes.

This is all meant to be a lead-in to how I actually read and really liked Watchmen. I was taking a class at Binghamton University called Crime Fiction, taught by a professor I much admired, Michael Sharp (he has a crossword blog here). Watchmen was on the curriculum, I had no idea what it was, and when I found out it was a comic book , I was less than enthused. But I gave Professor Sharp the benefit of the doubt and I was rewarded. Watchmen is a work that transcends the pulpy history of comics and deserves to be mentioned as a work of literature. Perhaps the reason I liked it so much was that it was meant to deconstruct the super hero narrative, to make these characters egotists, self-important, and perhaps even delusional. It broke down the myth of super heroes as Puritanical servants of the public good. Alan Moore created a world that infinitely more interesting than any Captain America or Superman story could possibly be, a work meant to confront the comfortable ideals of good vs. evil that comics have come to be seen. It might even be seen to question if super heroes are even necessary.

The same thoughts that I had upon having to read Watchmen, I have now in regards to the upcoming film. To some extent, the book is unfilmable in its structure. That Moore is adamantly opposed to filmic adaptations of his work and that previous efforts (From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) have been lackluster show no real track record for this to be a success. Add on top of that that the Zach Snyder of 300 fame is the director and you couldn't have picked a set of circumstances that inspire less hope in me. Granted I haven't seen any of Snyder's films but he's already made an unnecessary remake of one of my favorite films (Dawn of the Dead) and 300 seemed to be all eye candy without any substance. But I'm willing to cut him some slack, seeing as articles have repeatedly stated how close to the source the film is staying, less one major subplot. I'm only hoping that Snyder doesn't try to cater too much to mainstream audiences by glossing over the film's social commentary. I'm really hoping the film succeeds, not in terms of box office or popular opinion, but in terms that it does the book proud. I won't be out to see it this coming weekend (you know, to avoid the fan boys), but a review will be in before the first week is out. And I secretly hope the mainstream going film person, not the serious fans of the book, really don't like it.

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