As a general rule, I avoid writing about any film until I’ve had a chance to see it. If I have strong impressions or preconceptions going in, I try to honestly incorporate that into my eventual posted assessment. Beforehand, though, I try to keep this electronic space free of any precursory nattering. For one thing, I genuinely try to to be completely open to any and all movies as I sit down to view them and I want to duplicate that sentiment here. For another, I always find it appalling when individuals rail against any sort of art of the basis of transgressions that they anticipate will be there. Defenders of religion are especially prone to this, jumping all over unseen unseen films with feral brutality, decrying the horrid, horrid abomination that the likes of The Last Temptation of Christ or Priest even exist.
While I’ll confess that I’m quite skeptical about the quality of the pending film Watchmen–largely due to my dismal view of director Zack Snyder’s exercise in comic book adaptation–the thoughts I’m having now are entirely unrelated to that gloom. Instead, I just plainly find it strange that this is happening at all.
At the time of its release as twelve issue miniseries, Watchmen was the comic to be reckoned with. This was 1986, a year that already boasted some other sequential storytelling of high acclaim, some of which has aged better than others. That made it all the more impressive that this magnum opus composed by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons reached such formidable status, routinely cited as the great achievement of comics, especially superhero comics, even drifting, potentially, into the general canon. Still for all this acclaim, the book seems too much of a personal artifact to me to be making this sort of transition into the forefront of the culture. It’s the secret handshake of my youth. Knowing about this book, this graphic novel, this comic and understanding its impact and value was a signifier that you were a student of the secret literary history of comics, where Alan Moore was Ernest Hemingway and Kirby was king. To see Rorschach’s shifting mask in TV commercials, wedged between pharmaceutical pitches in the break of whitebread sitcom is exceedingly odd.
And the expectation is that the film will be a huge success this coming weekend. Most competition hs tried to get out of its way, and the relentless marketing onslaught has ensured that nobody will be surprised by its release. To think that twenty years later the answer to question used to promote the series–“Who Watches the Watchmen”–might be “Just about everybody.”
(Posted simultaneously to “Jelly-Town!”)