Issue Date: March 1, 2009
Watching the Watchmen
On March 6, fans finally get to see their beloved book on the big screen.
Don't be surprised if you see President Obama suddenly sporting a yellow smiley face on his lapel next to the American flag pin.
The world's most famous comic book geek could well be one of countless fans psyched about the impending release of the new movie "Watchmen." The smiley face is one of the cult fave's iconic symbols.
Based on the graphic novel named by "Time" as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, "Watchmen" has taken more than 20 years to morph into a movie.
Maybe it was the large, blue and very nude Dr. Manhattan or the gritty Cold War-era setting (with Richard Nixon in his fifth term as president, no less) that put off Hollywood. For its legion of fans -- and the newbies who have gotten their hands on the more than 1 million copies of the graphic novel printed since the movie trailer premiered last summer -- the wait ends March 6, when "Watchmen" opens in theaters nationwide.
"The people we want most to enjoy this are the fans," says Malin Akerman, who stars as the sleek superheroine, Silk Spectre. "It's their holy grail."
"Watchmen" debuted in 1986 as the creation of two British artists: writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons. With some antiheroes who are neither super nor heroic and mankind on the verge of nuclear annihilation, it sent shock waves across the comic book world and helped usher in a period of dark realism.
Although big stars were periodically attached to the project over the years, many considered the book "unfilmable," and a movie version was shelved.
Until now. "What we did was we just filmed it," says director Zack Snyder, laughing. "The fact that we didn't know better was the thing that let us do it."
Now, the question is, in the words of the graffiti on the wall in the comic, "Who watches the Watchmen?" We bet, many of you.
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Dave Gibbons explains his "Watchmen" poster!
When it came to creating our exclusive "Watchmen" poster, only one man was worthy of the task: Dave Gibbons, the original artist of the legendary graphic novel. Here, for the first time, Gibbons has taken his iconic characters and drawn them as they will be seen in the new movie, set in New York circa 1985.
And as a bonus, Gibbons gives his inside take on this unique rendition of "Watchmen"'s superheroes, "Doomsday Clock"-wise (you fans get it) from the top:
Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup): Gibbons put him in the back because "he is the unifying element. And the fact that he's naked means that we avoid any possible embarrassment."
Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley): A mysterious figure, "he's turning away and smaller than the other characters."
Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson): "He's looking as he is once he's got his costume on: quite powerful and ominous."
The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan): "He's front and center. His murder is the key to the whole thing."
Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman): "She's looking kind of feisty and ready for a fight."
Ozymandias (Matthew Goode): The smartest man in the world needs to be "very regal and symmetrical."
NOT BATMAN: Nite Owl (center, Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) take down bad guys in "Watchmen."
Cover illustration by Leon Lawrence III for USA WEEKEND