james debate
james debate

Saturday 23 August 2008

A revolutionary departure for the super hero genre. The 'Citizen Kane' of super hero stories. Taking the genre to a 'whole new level'. These sound like phrases that you've heard recently describing the Dark Knight?

Well they could well do. As everyone knows now, the Dark Knight has come along and been an absolutely massive hit. It has changed the way people look at super hero movies and made the type of camp schlock that characterizes the recent spiderman and superman movies simply obsolete in the genre. Make no mistake, movies like that will still be made, but they will now be looked at not as the forefront of super hero or comic book movies, but in the same light that we look at uninspired efforts in other genres, like the seriously unnecessary Evan Almighty.

But despite the (well deserved) kudos being heaped upon this movie this summer, these are all things that have been said before in a similar context.

watchmen ephemeric
Watchmen was a graphic novel by Alan Moore, who also did V for Vendetta and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It was written in the 80's at a time when the super hero comicbook genre was feared to be coming to a standstill. People were tired of the same old stuff; paragon heroes running around in camp and colorfully impractical outfits saving the world from largely one dimensional villains. Something was needed to come and re-invigorate the genre, bring something fresh to the table.

That something was Watchmen. This was a comic book which defied conventions and introduced a conflicted and refreshingly grey world. Where super heroes are depicted as real people with their own personal and ethical issues, their own neuroses and failings, and indeed who don't even have any real super powers (except for one of them). In addition to an intelligent deconstruction of the 'hero' archetype, the graphic novel is imbued with innovative use of symbolism and multi-layered dialogue that would make any of the finest authors proud.

In the end, Watchmen is the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award, and the only graphic novel to have been included in Time Magazine's top 100 English language novels of all time. So why hasn't it been made into a movie yet? Simply because it was deemed to ambitious. Indeed many have tried, and all eventually failed.

This is finally about to change now though. Zack Snyder, the director of 300 (which was not my cup of tea but you can't flaw the artistic direction) is bringing Watchmen to the big screen next year, and it looks fucking amazing.

Did you like the Dark Knight? 99/100 of you will have said yes to that. It was intelligent, multi-layered and thought provoking. This is the comic book that started all that though, did it all before 20 years ago, and many in the media are now expecting big things from the cinema adaption, and even those who as recently as last month praised Dark Knight as a one in a million film are tipping this to give it a run for its money.

This film has 'win' written all over it, and if you have any doubt check out the trailer here: Watchmen Trailer. Quite frankly one of the best trailers I've ever seen.

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