Zack Snyder, director of last summer's Superman blockbuster Man of Steel as well as its upcoming Batman Vs. Superman sequel, also directed one of the most controversial comic book adaptations filmed during the comics-to-film boom of the past decade. In 2009, Snyder was at the helm of Watchmen, a translation of the 1985 graphic novel that until then had been widely considered unfilmable.
But with the comic book by revered writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons held as a sacred text by comic book fans, Zack Snyder had a tough hill to climb with Watchmen. The film met a generally lukewarm reception from both critics and fans, and while it took in over $185 million at the worldwide box office, with a $130 million budget it was far from the blockbuster that its studio, Warner Bros, had hoped.
Now, five years later, the Zack Snyder Watchmen has come under attack again, this time from producer Joel Silver, who wanted to film his own Watchmen movie, directed by former Monty Python animator and 12 Monkeys helmer Terry Gilliam.
Silver — the producer behind such popcorn-movie classics as Die Hard and The Matrix — declared in an interview Wednesday that the Gilliam Watchmen would have been "a much, much better movie" than the Zack Snyder adaptation, and that Snyder was "a slave to the material." In particular, he blasted the ending of the Zack Snyder Watchmen as "too hard and too silly."
On Monday, Zack Snyder himself hit back at Silver and defended Watchmen as "probably my favorite movie that I've made." In addition to Man of Steel and Watchmen, other Zack Snyder films include 300, Dawn of the Dead and Sucker Punch.
Snyder made a point of slamming the proposed Terry Gilliam, Watchmen ending as "completely insane." In the Gilliam version, a main character, the superhero known as Dr Manhattan, goes back in time to prevent his own origin, a plot twist not even hinted at in the Moore-Gibbons graphic novel.
"The fans would have stormed the castle on that one," said Snyder. "I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy. So, finally I made it to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world."
If his Watchmen came out today, Zack Snyder said, it would be better understood than in 2009 which he called, "the height of the snarky Internet fanboy — like, when he had his biggest strength."
But if the Zack Snyder Watchmen were released today, "people would realize that the movie is a satire. You know, the whole movie is a satire. It's a genre-busting movie."