One of the things that has weighed on the minds of Watchmen fans is how Zack Snyder intends to deal with the end of the story. A number of previous drafts of the script have leaked, and they change the ending in ways that some feel are major, and that some feel ruin the thematic cohesiveness of the story (I’ll get into more detail later).
Is there hope now that new writers – Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman of Transformers fame – have been brought in to do a pass on the latest script from Alex Tse (which in turn was a variation on the David Hayter script that successfully broke the comic into movie form)? In a new interview with Starlog Magazine, Snyder says that "I’m absolutely keeping the graphic novel’s ending." He goes on to also say, "I’m sticking to the hard edge and all of the bickering that’s in Watchmen. If you don’t do that, you shouldn’t do the film at all. The reason why is that the movie works as an answer to what’s out there. It did that as a graphic novel, and it needs to do that as a film. If you want to take out the edgy bits, then don’t bother making it. Never mind!"
But what does he mean when he says he’s keeping the ending? I’m about to get on a plane to Vancouver where I’ll be visiting the set of Watchmen, so I’ll have a chance to ask him in person, but in the meantime I wonder if he means that he’s keeping the ending in spirit and not to the letter. Here be spoilers:
In the comic, the story ends when former hero Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, kills a huge portion of New York City using a genetically engineered space alien squid. It’s for the greater good, though; the world is on the edge of nuclear armageddon and Veidt, the world’s smartest man, sees that the only way to unite the warring nations is to present them with a bigger, meaner threat from beyond.
In the latest scripts that I have read (I have not read any of Orci and Kurtzman’s work), Veidt’s plan is similar, except this time he uses an orbiting space laser to hit targets all around the world. He also presents the world with a holographic image of self-exiled superhero Dr. Manhattan, saying that he’ll keep hitting people with lasers if they don’t stop all the fussing and fighting.
There are problems with that ending – the Dr. Manhattan ultimatum doesn’t make people come together so much as it subjugates them. Also, every script so far has Veidt die at the end; he very much survives in the comic, which is part of the ending’s moral complexity (the question of whether Veidt was right or wrong keeps comic fans bickering to this day).
So which is it – is Snyder reinstating a possibly expensive FX sequence with the alien devastation of New York (and a possibly overly complex storyline about kidnapped writers and artists and engineers who helped create the beast – a storyline that’s even unwieldy in the 12 issue comic) or is he ‘keeping the ending’ in terms of Ozymandias’ plan working, lots of people dying, etc. It’s worth noting that the original Sam Hamm piece of shit script from a decade and change ago has our heroes STOPPING Ozymandias and then being – wait for it – transported to the ‘real world’ for all their efforts. It’s the worst ending of all time. So if Snyder at least allows Ozymandias to complete his plan – whatever form that may take in this film – he can technically say he’s keeping the ending.