For the longest time I had Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight to look forward to, sating my geeky need for anticipation. And then that came. And it was glorious. And attached to that was the stunning first trailer for the twenty-years-in-the-making screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. And that’s been keeping me pretty damn busy since (and hell, before too). Now we are less than a week (!!!) away from the film finally hitting theaters. We have less than a week before Zack Snyder slaps us in the face with his mind-blowing visuals, bringing to life one of the most complex, fascinating and culturally relevant superhero stories ever told.
And then what?
What’s next after we finally get our Watchmen? Well, don’t worry, because there’s certainly more Watchmen on the way. March 24 sees the release of the accompanying film, the animated Tales of the Black Freighter, taken from the comic book within the comic book of Moore’s original Watchmen novel. The trailer looked quite promising and what’s possibly even more exciting than that is the included “documentary” version of Hollis Mason’s Under the Hood, which we know from the excerpts between early chapters of Watchmen.
And on top of that, we’ve also got the two different alternate cuts of the film ahead of us, currently slated for a July DVD/Blu-Ray release and possible limited theatrical release. Snyder’s director’s cut of his already 158-minute superhero epic will run 190 minutes and another alternate version will be the 205-minute cut that will incorporate the Tales of the Black Freighter material.
So I think after this Friday, we’re pretty much covered for another little while in terms of more Watchmen, but what else is on the horizon? Any other event-movies translating some great source material to the silver screen? This summer is looking pretty bleak. There are a lot of pretty bad-looking sequels as well as more than one big-budget blockbuster based on a toy. The new Harry Potter film is coming out, but even that is starting to look like it might not be so great. And I’m sorry, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, and Angels and Demons just aren’t doing it for me.
Way off on the horizon, though, there is hope. There is a piece of comic book gold that is currently in development by Columbia Pictures to blow all our minds away and if Watchmen pulls in some big business, we can look forward to this one being all that much closer to a reality. I speak of course of Garth Ennis’s Preacher series. Currently attached to the project is Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of the films American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road.
For the uninitiated, Preacher is an excellent, certainly transgressive and controversial series involving a Texas preacher named Jesse Custer, who becomes possessed by a supernatural angel-demon spawn called Genesis and spends the majority of the comic getting into some pretty fucked up adventures, accompanied by his girlfriend, Tulip, and an Irish vampire named Cassidy. He literally searches for God so that he might, for all intents and purposes, tell him “fuck you” for abandoning Heaven. Various topics include intense gluttony, bestiality, orgies, suicide, torture, murder, removing faces, and the anal rape of crazy one-eyed German guys, to name a few. Not to mention the constant profanity and general blasphemy. So you can see what I mean by controversial. It’s all pretty rough stuff, but if you can stomach it, it’s an incredibly well-written, dark-humored, and fascinating read that flips normal perception of religion on its head.
Mendes is certainly not the director I would have thought of for this material, but I’m nevertheless encouraged by the choice. To read the comic, its Texas charm and over-the-top violence make it seem as if it were tailor-made for a director like Robert Rodriguez, who had expressed interest in the project, but I fear that he would’ve given us exactly what we expected and ultimately underwhelmed us because of that. Also, I don’t quite know if Rodriguez has the right sense of humor for the material. Personally, I always thought if you were to give the Coen brothers a nice big budget, they could whip up something terrific with it. But I like the pick of Mendes. He’s a terrific director, and you can tell that by choosing him, they’re planning on making a movie that’s actually going to be pretty good instead of just watering down the material with some hack director so they can just sell a few tickets. (Although if you water down this material, you really don’t have much left.) I only worry that he might try to use his clout to completely reinvent the source material, kind of like what Darren Aronofsky’s plans were when he was attached to Batman: Year One and he wanted to make Bruce Wayne homeless. Hmmm… I wonder.
The project has had a rocky history, tracing back to the late nineties. Ennis had completed a script, based mostly on Gone to Texas, the first story arc. He was shopping it around and it ended up in the hands of Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, who were planning on producing and financing the film through their View Askew production company with Rachel Talalay (director of the terrible Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Tank Girl) set to direct and James Marsden set to star in the lead.
That all eventually fell through some time after Smith and Mosier couldn’t get Bob Weinstein, then-co-chairman of Miramax, involved.
In 2006, HBO announced plans to turn it into a series, which format-wise would have been great. However it was being championed by Mark Steven Johnson, of Daredevil and Ghost Rider shame. His plan was intriguing, though, as he wanted to turn each individual comic of the series into an episode of the show, nearly shot-for-shot. But from the guy that made the aforementioned travesties, it still made myself and fellow Preacher fans understandably nervous. But all that ended, anyway, when in August 2008, new executives at HBO decided to abandon the project completely.
Now Columbia Pictures is trying their hand at it, with Mendes in the director’s chair. And if he doesn’t Revolutionary Road this up, then I think we ought to have one hell of an interesting picture on our hands. So there. I have something pretty big and awesome to look forward to, and if Watchmen makes R-rated comic book fare the hot new thing, then we can certainly look foward to this dream becoming a reality in the not-too-distant future. My fingers are crossed! I have but one request, however, that I shall end on, and that is this: Josh Brolin. Read the damn comic, look me in the face, and tell me I’m wrong. Josh. Fucking. Brolin.