I'll Be Watching The Watchmen...

...just not this weekend. Nicole still has three chapters or so to finish, so we'll see it when she's done reading the collected edition.

Not that any has ever asked, but if anyone did, I'd point to Watchmen as being one of my all time favorite comics. Part of that is the book itself, and part of it is the timing of when I read it. I was 17 and I'd been reading mostly Spider-man and X-Men comics for a good six or seven years at that point. I'd read some really good superhero comics and I'd read some really bad superhero comics (it was 1992, after all), but I'd never read anything like Watchmen.

These days, I see a lot of people reading it for the first time who have read comics for a while, and they don't seem to get the same excitement from it, the same sense of awe that I got. I understand that. Depending upon your background and exposure going into it, the level of "groundbreaking" that you take away is going to vary. I would think it impossible for people who have been brought up on Morrison, Ellis, Ennis, and some Moore to go back and get the same charge out of Watchmen that those of us who dined on a steady diet of Claremont got. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

So, given that I hold this series in such high regard, how do I feel about the fact that there's a movie coming out based on it? Pretty good, actually.

Allow me to break it down, in pros and cons, for easier digestion:

The Cons

1) The movie will, ultimately, fail to match the comic.

I have absolutely no problems with this. I'm always shocked when people are surprised that a movie adaptation isn't as good as its source, or when it's been changed in some ways. Why would anyone think a film adaptation would be anything like the source material? Aside from the fact that it's a different medium, it's also a completely different group of people making it at a completely different time, which explain why even re-makes of movies are hit and miss.

What completely baffles me is people who begrudges these adaptations very existence. I don't understand that. If Watchmen the movie sucks, is the book going to suddenly suck? Of course not. Nothing in that movie can possibly change how I feel about the comic. I don't know why anyone would be offended that this movie was made.

2) Alan Moore wants nothing to do with it.

I understand why Alan Moore doesn't want to be attached to any film versions of his works. Notice, however, the words I just used. I don't believe Moore has come out and said anything with regards to the quality of this particularly movie, so I have no reason to believe he thinks it's bad, just that it's not his work -- and he's right, it's not, no more than any big screen version of "Hamlet" is Shakespeare's work. Alan Moore writes comics. This is a movie. They are separate entities.

I'm not sure what Moore's exact feelings are on the fact that this movie was made. It seems as if he wished it hadn't been done, but I don't know that for fact. But I'll use my first point to debate this issue, because why would anyone care if it did get made? Again, it's not the comic and the comic isn't going to be ruined because of the movie. If anyone truly believes that it will be, that's somewhat frightening.

So is it okay to see this movie when it very clearly does not have Moore's blessing? I'd be on the fence about that, to be honest, if that were the only issue. But it very clearly has Dave Gibbons' blessing, to the point where the man was actually on set when they shot it. And while there's no denying that Moore created the Watchmen, we'd all be going to see an adaptation of a novel or play if it weren't for Dave Gibbons. His art is vital to the book.

He also (allegedly) gets all of Moore's royalties, so all the more reason to help him out.

Digression: Some Hollywood producer recently went on a rant about Moore (you can find it online if you look, I'm sure). And while the bulk of it was crap, he mentioned something I hadn't considered before. While Moore has rather selfless stated that all the royalties that he would receive from any movie made based upon his work will go to the artist he worked with, there's been no mention of the boatload of royalties he gets from the increased sales of the book that is being adapted. Watchmen has sold millions of copies since news of the movie was released months ago, which means that both Moore and Gibbons are getting pretty big checks every month. Blessing or not, Moore is very clearly profiting from Watchmen being made into a movie.

An added bonus: those sales all happened before the movie came out, which means that there are millions of people out there who have now read the book, something that never would have happened had the movie not been made. Regardless of the quality of the film, it's the greatest advertisement for the book that has ever been produced.

The Pros

1) It looks cool.

Why else do you see a movie? Each commercial has gotten me more interested. I've yet to see anything that has dampened my enthusiasm, even if the woman playing Silk Spectre II seems a bit young for that part and the Ozymandias costume is too damn dark. But who doesn't love superheroes doing un-superheroic things? Besides, I've enjoyed the movies that Zack Snyder has made, more or less.

2) The timing is perfect.

People often claim that this movie couldn't have been made before now because the technology didn't exist to pull it off. And I'll buy that. But I'll also add that a story that deconstructs superheroes actually works in the movie industry because superhero movies have become so prevalent.

This is not a movie that would have worked five years ago. But most movie-goers are now familiar with the various superhero touchstones. They've watched Batman, Spider-man, the X-Men, Iron Man, and even some Hulk and Superman. They are familiar with how these things are supposed to go. They don't need an education for the language of superheroes, which means that the events and themes in Watchmen should land (assuming they're handled well). This isn't a deconstruction of the fantasy fiction genre. This is taking things that a mainstream audience actually knows and turning it on its head. And I don't think this could have happened before now.

Anyway, I'll be seeing it in the theaters, probably sometime next week. I'm looking forward to it.