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On the Set: Zack Snyder’s The Watchmen

On the Set: Zack Snyder’s The Watchmen

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Following the record-breaking success of his Spartan epic, 300, Zack Snyder has set out to adapt yet another graphic novel. This time, he is directing the adaptation of Watchmen, the Hugo Award-winning series with a developmental history almost as drawn out and damned as the War in Iraq. Snyder is just one of many directors who have been attached to the formerly doomed project—a list that includes acclaimed directors Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass and Darren Aronofsky. The biggest difference between these directors and Snyder? Snyder is actually making the movie. As proof of his progress in filming what the comic’s creator, Alan Moore, describes as a work that was “almost the exact opposite of cinematic,” MM has got a few of the first photos from Snyder’s New York City backlot–built in the heart of Vancouver, B.C. “In my opinion, the results speak for themselves,” says Snyder on the film’s Website.

BELOW: The graphic novel takes place in New York in an alternate 1985. In this New York, superheroes exist, the United States and the Soviet Union are inching closer and closer to a nuclear war and Richard Nixon is in his fifth term as president. As a result, the sets need to have the feel and aesthetics of New York, while also being accurate to the universe created by the comic.

BELOW: According to Snyder’s blog post, the backlot required 5,800 feet of neon needing 24,000 watts of power, 200,000 nails, 5,000 square feet of custom posters and 160,000 pounds of steel I-beams. The set is complex by any standards, but compared to 300, which almost exclusively used a digital backlot, it’s worlds different.

BELOW: Creating scenes that mimic comics is obviously nothing new to Snyder. While making 300, the director used the graphic novel as a storyboard for the film, attempting to precisely recreate the illustrated panels. He was successful in doing this for 300, but fanboys of Watchmen are anxious to see whether or not he will be able to so the same for the Alan Moore epic, which is arguably more detailed, containing many more minute specificities.

BELOW: This newsstand is where the vendor, Bernard rants about the impending nuclear war, while Bernie, the young boy next to him, reads Tales of a Black Freighter, a comic within the comic. This site, as well as the characters and comic, is revisited several times in the graphic novel. The setting is a vital part of the comics and, as Watchmen creator Alan Moore told Entertainment Weekly, the first appearance of Bernard and Bernie “is where Watchmen really clicked.”

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