Zack Snyder on ‘Watchmen’ Legacy as ‘the Anti-Avengers Movie’

While working on his new Superman film, Zack Snyder pontificates on the legacy of Watchmen and what it means inside the superhero genre.

HC: There’s another version of “Watchmen” coming out on Blu-ray. This seemingly never-ending interest in the film must be gratifying as a director.

ZS: It’s weird because I was talking with some colleagues and we were talking about “Watchmen” and saying that in a weird way, “Watchmen” becomes more and more relevant as more and more superhero movies come out. After “Avengers” really would have been the perfect time to release “Watchmen” because it’s the anti-”Avengers” movie. With “Avengers” being this phenomenon worldwide, it’s interesting what Alan Moore did with that graphic novel and what we tried to do with the movie. Alan Moore not only is a genius in the book he created, but also his knowledge of comic books and mythology of comic books and what the superheroes were in response to and what they represent is really beautiful and insightful. We try to get that across in the movie. When “Avengers” or whatever other movies get made, it confirms to me the mythological deconstruction that Alan was able to achieve in the book and we tried to achieve in the movie. It’s even more fun to watch the movie now, I think, as the general audience has become more and more familiar with these icons and this mythology. The deconstruction of that mythology is inevitable, but it really hasn’t been done. I think it’s interesting that we have this genre that is so rich, but except for “Watchmen” and “Kick-Ass,” which I would call more of a comedy superhero movie, I don’t know that they try to dig into the why of it that we do.

HC: That deconstruction of the genre means that “Watchmen” probably shouldn’t be the first comic non-comic book fans read.

ZS: In a weird way, it should be the last comic book people read. But the reason people say that is because of the things it deals with. These characters, Doctor Manhattan responding to the threat of cold war and nuclear weapons. These heroes ambiguously crossing lines between good and evil. How do you justify the actions these guys take? All that stuff. In that context, I think a non comic book fan is able to go, “Wow, that’s not just put on the stand and it kicks ass.” It becomes an intellectual exercise as well. It’s funny, when Chris Nolan came to me and said “Do you want to do Superman?” I was like “No!” That’s a difficult one. But I felt like I knew the rules. I understand the rules of Superman — not necessarily better than anyone else — but better than a normal filmmaker would. After doing “Watchmen” and digging that deep into the why of superheroes, when Superman is presented to you, I felt like I was in a unique position to say “I get this guy. I know what this is.”

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