Why The Watchmen Movie’s Ending Is Better
March 11, 2009 Leave a comment
I know, I know, that title alone is probably heresy. Who am I to go up against the great Alan Moore and his masterwork. Who am I to say it can possibly be improved. It’s true that, ss someone who read Watchmen only a few weeks before the movies premiere, I have no nostalgic attachment to Watchmen, nor any snake hero worship of Alan Moore. Simply put, I find Zack Snyder and Alex Tse ending to be more grounded in the universe, more threatening, and less ridiculous.
For those who have seen the Watchmen movie with a friend who has not read the graphic novel, try this: explain to them that in the graphic novel the ending actually had giant alien squid in it. I doubt you’ll find many who won’t be even more confused. Even if you explain to them that it’supposed to be mock alien, that Veidt’s been experimenting with genetics for a while, and that Bubastis was his first test, it will still sound ridiculous. Take a step back from your fandom and ask yourself: what purpose does the squid serve that Dr.Manhattan supposed destruction of multiple cities does not? Both viewers and those within the movie world understand what Dr.Manhattan is and what he is capable of. They even understand that at that particular time in the movie/graphic novel he is unstable and potentially dangerous. His retaliation against Earth even seems likely. Would a giant alien squid with a psychic brain really be better?
All readers and viewers of Watchmen have to suspend their belief and acknowledge the existence of Dr.Manhattan. It’s fairly easy for viewers and readers to take this leap of faith along with the myriad other differences in the universe which he causes: the run up to armageddon, technological shifts, and teleportation. If you can believe Dr.Manhattan exists and is seemingly all powerful, then you can believe in these other things. The squid on the other hand brings in a whole neew host of questions about psychic brains and genetic engineering, questions which really don’t need to be asked. The world already has a highly fantastical element to it; does it really need another?
Their are obviously problems both with the movie as a whole and its ending too, but one I don’t seem to understand is this: Dr.Manhattan is American, or at least and American creation, so why would the Russians ally with them? Yes, it is true that he is American just like they say in the news report. But that’s why he’s made to destroy three major American cities and at least one Russian city, as far as I understood from the movie. I think it would be pretty damn hard for the Russians to suspect that America was pulling some kind of trick in that situation. Even if the Russians in some ways blamed the Americans, they both face the bigger problem of Dr.Manhattan. This is exactly what Veidt wanted in either the graphic novel or the movie, that humans would ignore their past differences and unite to fight a common enemy. Having known who Dr.Manhattan is and what he is capable of for over 20 years, it wouldn’t take them long to understand the threat he poses to them all. The alien squid on the other hand would actually be harder for them to comprehend and unite against because it’s an unknown quantity.
Another small, but slightly geeky problem in the graphic novel is that if Dr.Manhattan isn’t considered a danger at the conclusion of the story like he is in the movie, what would stop humans from making more like him? People with his powers would probably be best equipped to fight an alien invasion (if they thought that’s what was coming) and it wouldn’t take long for the human lust of power to bring civilization back to the brink of armageddon. After Dr.Manhattan destroyed a few major cities, I don’t think humans would be so quick to try and make another doctor.
The argument for the squid I can understand is that it’s supposed to be ridiculously over the top because the only thing that can stop the inane, mutually assured destruction of nuclear war is something even more ridiculous. It has to be absolutely pscyho nuts becuase the US and Russia already being bat shit insane by pointing nukes at each other. This point is valid, but I still think that because Dr.Manhattan is a known quantity in the story, his power perhaps all the more frightening.
I understand why fans would decry this sort of opinion. I myself dislike Zack Snyder for recreating one of my favorite movies, Dawn of the Dead. The movie’s not terrible, but I just feel a certain defensiveness towards my favorite zombie movie. This is probably the exact same defensiveness Watchmen fans feel so I understand where you’re coming from. But in my humble opinion, I feel that while Snyder’s movie overall is no where near the caliber of the Watchmen graphic novel, it manages to make some intelligent improvements to the conclusion.