Alan Moore’s 1986 comic series Watchmen has long been seen as the North Star of the world of graphic novels. Despite claims that the comics simply cannot be adapted properly, many major filmmakers have taken a stab at making films and shows based on the world of Watchmen. One such filmmaker was Paul Greengrass, who revealed during the Happy Sad Confused Podcast that he once pitched his own take on the comics that would have strayed far from the source material.
“Whatever the vision was, I didn’t articulate it clearly because the movie never got made. In essence, what it was-and I loved the graphic novel, and I loved Zack [Snyder’s 2009 Watchmen] movie, by the way, which was a very faithful rendition of it. My view was, I didn’t want to do a faithful adaptation, and that might have been a disastrous endeavor and perhaps why I didn’t get the movie made.”
While the Watchmen comics technically take place in a world of superheroes, there is only one true blue superhero in the whole story, the Godlike Doctor Manhattan. All the other heroes are normal humans who put on capes and masks to fight crime. According to Paul Greengrass, his intention was to take that “realistic” standard of ordinary superheroes and apply it to the entire movie, to the extent that all the supernatural events that take place in the story are shown to be mere delusions.
“I wanted to believe these characters lived in the real world and that a lot of what they were thinking and doing was delusional. And don’t get me wrong, [you might say], ‘Oh, like the ‘Joker,’ and that I had the idea first because it’s not true at all and I thought the Joker was an absolutely brilliant film. But there was something in ‘the Joker that had [a similar] quality to it. The ‘Joker’ was in a real world, 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.”
In the end, the studio did not choose Greengrass’ take on Watchmen. But he was not the only filmmaker desirous of making a grounded superhero movie. According to Greengrass, Christopher Nolan took that idea of realistic superheroes to great heights with his The Dark Knight trilogy of movies.
“I’m not sure if [my take on Watchmen] would have worked, but I’ve always thought about that. I think Christopher Nolan did it far, far better than I could with ‘Batman.’ Cause that’s what he did with Batman in a funny way, [he grounded it]. [Gotham] was the perfect place where you could make those characters live in a world that felt real and yet wasn’t real.”
While Greengrass never made a superhero movie after his failed Watchmen pitch, the filmmaker is not against the idea of making a film in that genre at some point in the future. “I wouldn’t say I would never make one of those movies,” he said. “I always think about them, you know?” This news originated here.