Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I am becoming more of a comic book nerd every day. This past week I finished the "Watchmen" series, by far one of the best graphic novels I've ever read. I finished the entire thing in about 36 hours, pausing only to haphazardly rip tickets at the movie theatre and eat. But the rest of the day was devoted to "Watchmen." When asked about Watchmen, I could give a very pretentious response: it's about human suffering, political power, the meaning of an individual human life, humanity vs. "super-humanity," etc. A less pretentious plot summary: a league of superheroes from the mid 20th century retire. Thanks to one of the superheroes, the United States won the Vietnam War. It is a re-imagining of the early 1980s in New York City, as the new generation of superheroes grow paranoid and misanthropic when faced with the suffering in the world. The story begins when one superhero is found murdered.
Usually I'm not even a fan of superhero comic books. But this is Watchmen, considered by many to be the best graphic novel/comic book of all time. There isn't even much action in it-- it is all brooding, all politics, all imagination. I love it. It isn't a "superhero" comic-- it's about individual human experience. There isn't any magic in it, no fantasy to speak of. It's a science fiction re-imagining. It is every nerd's idea of comic book perfection.
I'm a little wary, however, of the director of "300" making a live-action movie of "Watchmen." The two are completely incompatible. Frank Miller v. Alan Moore? There really is no comparison. Frank Miller is all style, while Moore is both style and substance. One absolutely cannot make a shallow version of "Watchmen," and frankly I'm worried about the state of cinema. My fellow movie nerds agree: it's a big risk, and Zack Snyder had better follow through. "300" is a cool movie, but not a good movie by any means. It is pure style. "Watchmen" can't be pure style. It wouldn't be "Watchmen."