Might Watchmen be coming to your TV screen?
Reports indicate that Zack Snyder, who directed the Watchmen movie adaptation a few years ago, has been meeting with HBO about a potential TV version. That’s far from “Watchmen is coming to HBO.” But the prospect isn’t horrifying. Unless your name is “Alan Moore,” in which case you’re pulling for some serpent deity to crush everyone involved to death.
While not brilliant, the Watchmen movie turned out better than many fans might have thought. Mostly because Snyder cast it well and hugged the source material pretty closely. But there was a lot of room for improvement.
Even with a running time north of 160 minutes, the Watchmen movie had to elide quite a bit. Things were left out or compressed. It’s a big, dense story with a lot of detours. A movie could hit the highlights, but there was a lot from the source material that either never made it to the screen or was “quoted” only in some cursory fashion. That’s the nature of a movie. Even long ones still need a tight plot focus and there’s only so much room for side beats.
A television adaptation would have more room to unfold Moore’s layered story and give it a proper build. Some very interesting character moments and flashbacks from the Watchmen series were compressed or omitted from the movie. The Minutemen back story, especially, fell victim to the need to zero in on the main plot. An HBO series would have both the time and inclination to follow those side routes, many of which added to the emotional resonance of the big moments later in the comic book.
Fans might still be wary of Snyder’s involvement, but HBO’s potential participation would be cause for optimism. HBO has high standards for what it puts on air. It wouldn’t go forward with Watchmen if network executives weren’t confident they could make it memorable and improve on the movie. HBO’s track record adapting properties as diverse as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, True Blood and Mildred Pierce gives reason to expect they’d be good shepherds for Watchmen.
Watchmen on HBO would also face fewer restrictions on content. While the movie version included a lot more of the comic’s challenging aspects than some fans might have expected, it still had a contractual obligation to achieve an “R” rating for general release. Without those restrictions, an HBO version could come even closer to the vision that Moore and artist Dave Gibbons presented on the page.
Should HBO give it a try though?
Some fans will always say no. To some extent, you can see their point. Moore and Gibbons presented the definitive version of the story in their 12 issues.
But that’s not the world we live in. The reception of the controversial Watchmen prequel comics a couple years ago was decidedly mixed. But they sold really well. Fans might complain, but they still voted with their wallets. The era when adaptations, sequels and spin-offs of Watchmen were strictly taboo is over. If another version is inevitable, why not allow a network with a strong track record take control?
It’s hard to estimate odds of whether Watchmen will happen at HBO. The network and DC Comics are both part of Warner Bros., so if a TV version happens at all, it’s hard to imagine it occurring anywhere else. With an end in sight for Game of Thrones and the upcoming Westworld still a question mark, HBO has to be motivated to find its next big genre property. But even if HBO says yes, an actual series could still be years away or die in development.
For fans interested in a strong filmed version of Watchmen, HBO may be their best bet.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on October 2, 2015.