Don’t flunk the Rorschach test


Scene/Mix Editor

The new film “Watchmen” might just look like another superhero movie. That is, if you haven’t read the graphic novel from which it was adapted.

After opening Friday, March 6, “Watchmen” came in No. 1 at the box office in its opening weekend, raking in $55,655,000, according to

The movie is based on the graphic novel that is about as old as most Oakland University students. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, the novel is set in 1985 and follows former vigilantes and the conspiracy they find themselves in.

The Oakland Post was included in a conference call on Thursday, March 5 with the director of “Watchmen,”  Zack Snyder.

Several attempts have been made to re-create the graphic novel on the silver screen, yet all were unsuccessful, with none making it to final production. “Watchmen” has been referred to as the “unfilmable film” by

“When they first called me, there was no way I could do it, figure it out,” Snyder said.

But, Snyder said he feared that if the movie was made without him, it would be too much of a PG-13 “sequel-able” film.

Snyder said he wanted to keep the film from becoming a typical superhero movie.

“In the studio’s mind, that’s a safe and cool idea, a formulaic superhero movie,” he said.

Snyder also said he worried that if he wasn’t involved in the movie it wouldn’t be as graphically violent, which was essential to the film version of the graphic novel.

“The violence in ‘Watchmen’ is specific in a way to provoke thought,” he said.

The director said that he feels the novel talks about how superhero politics and power are similar.

“The movie asks who polices the police or watches the watchers or gods gods,” Snyder said. “I think it takes on American pop culture from a distance. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Snyder said it’s difficult to accept as a society that the way our stories are told are from comics.

“It’s all about the culture accepting that this is our mythology. I think that’s the biggest turn the culture has to make,” he said. “I think that’s pretty obvious that this is a mythology.”

The director said he felt there was nothing intellectually lacking about superheroes.

“Dumbing ourselves down by making superheroes — I don’t believe that’s true.”  

Snyder had to adapt many different superheroes from the graphic novel to the film.

“I think the most difficult character to realize is Dr. Manhattan, but in some ways it’s more rewarding,” he said. “I discovered Dr. Manhattan is a super emotional character. He’s a dark and sad god.”

The director read “Watchmen” in 1988. The conflict in the end of the novel between Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach especially affected Snyder.

“When I read it in the graphic novel I was so overwhelmed with philosophy. That scene for me was emotional, these characters coming to this conclusion,” said Snyder. “That’s no longer philosophy, it’s two characters, a different emotional feeling.”

Snyder said he wanted a cast to reflect the ideas he had when reading the novel.

“They’re not different characters from what I had in mind,” he said. “It was just about trying to find characters that reminded me of the graphic novel.”

“Watchmen” is now in theaters.