Late last week, producer Joel Silver reopened the most pressing debate of 2009 by criticizing Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen, faulting the director for being too much of a “slave” to Alan Moore’s material to take any real chances (besides using Leonard Cohen as aural Viagra). Among Silver’s evidence that Gilliam would have made a “MUCH much better movie” was the alternate ending that’s now playing only in the multiplex that hosts all of Gilliam’s unfinished projects, in which Doctor Manhattan destroys himself to save everyone else. Now Snyder has fired back, telling The Huffington Post of how he took on Watchmen, in that same sacrificial spirit, to “save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.”
Deeming the proposed Gilliam ending “completely insane,” Snyder insists that he made Watchmen “because I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy.” Instead, Snyder reminds, he tried to stay faithful to the overall story, saying, “The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel—I used slightly different devices” in reimagining its climax, but that those devices arose organically from the source material. “I would not have grabbed something from out of the air and said, ‘Oh, here's a cool ending’ just because it's cool,” says Snyder, who loaded his Watchmen with plenty of slow-motion, bone-breaking action scenes set to thumping techno music.
Still, whether or not you agree that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was, at the very least, not as baffling as Terry Gilliam’s might have been, chances are you’re not assessing it correctly either way. “I always believe the movies I've made are smarter than the way they are perceived by sort of mass culture and by the critics,” Snyder said, a statement he immediately followed by saying, “Also, ‘It looks like a video game.’ Well, maybe it's supposed to look like a video game”—suggesting maybe Zack Snyder does have a firmer grasp of irony than Watchmen might lead you to believe.