It is often said that Watchmen is the most influential comic ever to be released. That comics wouldn’t be where they are without it, for good and for ill. But how did we get here, exactly? More to the point, just what influence did Watchmen provide to the larger world of comics? What, ultimately, is the legacy of Watchmen? Who watched the Watchmen?
There is an old saying: the film is never as good as the book.
In large part, this is because the quality of any given film adaptation is largely determined by how faithfully it recreates the original source material. Simone Murray observes that this has long been common in “film and television reviewing, in broader journalistic discourse, and in everyday evaluations by the film-going public.” It is a view which holds that film can “ultimately never be more than an adjunct to literature because literature came first and because literature was art whereas film was mass culture.”
But we live in a postmodern world of images, retrospection, and pastiche. Literature is no longer inherently superior to film based on any ‘imagined wealth of cultural capital”—we can approach a film “on its own terms, rather than as a mere supplement to a literary antecedent.”
In saying that we don’t have to judge a film adaptation based on its fidelity to the source material, I’m participating in what Murray calls “the ritual slaying of fidelity criticism at the outset.” After all, she points out that barely any academic criticism about adaptation buys into the idea that an adaptation is inherently inferior to the original just because it’s an adaptation.
But ritually slaying something sounds rather fun, so with the ritual performed let’s turn to Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of Watchmen. [Read more…] about Who Watched the Watchmen? Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009)