Yeah, another dispatch from Comic-Con today but I just had to share because I attended the panels for Watchmen (see: photo below) and The Spirit today and both were so exciting. The one for Watchmen in particular was not only coolest in terms of the footage we got to see, but also because of the funny, laid-back vibe of the panel. I think Zack Snyder with his friendly, boy-next-door ways pretty much set the tone for that.
More on that later. First, some thoughts on Frank Miller's film version of Will Eisner's The Spirit:
- There are two things that I really loved about The Spirit footage we saw and the panel itself. For one, the movie truly looks like a comic book, and it's a lot of fun to watch. Jaime King described it as visually "intoxicating," which I could see. Secondly, Samuel L. Jackson was at the panel and he was a great interviewee. He chuckled when the topic of his Spirit character's Nazi costume came up. "That was awesome. I was a Nazi! Nick Fury became a black skinhead."
- That said, there was something about both the movie and the panel that was a little empty and detached. Miller completely admits that if a woman is in his movies, she's gonna be hot and wearing tight clothing. And that's fine. His choice, etc. But there's a line between making an artistic choice and objectifying women, and Miller skates that line.
- Finally, there's the issue of the Spirit himself, played by Gabriel Macht. I think Macht is an incredibly cute guy. And the character of the hero of the film is an important one to cast. On this topic, Miller mentioned that Hollywood has many fine male actors, but "not many men." Which is why, he says, we hold onto the Bruce Willises and Harrison Fords and Clive Owens (his examples, all). And then. . . he chose Gabriel Macht to be his manly hero? I thought the footage they showed us from the movie would explain this a little more, but not so. Onscreen as the Spirit, Macht is likable and funny and cute, but he's not the heroic "man" that Miller referenced earlier, which struck me as odd.
For some of my thoughts on Watchmen sneak peek, read more.
- As I mentioned, director Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead) has this easygoing, affable manner, and it really set the tone for the panel, which included all the main actors: Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Matthew Goode and Patrick Wilson. All of them seem to be deeply passionate about the film, and about doing justice to the original source material by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
- Snyder said he knew an adaptation of Watchmen — which has been said to be the one work that is "unfilmmable" — was in the works, and he decided to direct it mostly out of fear that someone else wouldn't do it well enough.
- And it appears that Snyder brought it to life stupendously. The clip montage we were shown was completely wordless, set to that ominous-sounding choral music (as opposed to the Smashing Pumpkins song in the trailer, "The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning"), so it's mostly a series of images. If you know what's going on in the story of the Watchmen, it's really, really freaking cool. All the effects aren't completely done, they were careful to say, but so far, Billy Crudup's bright blue Dr. Manhattan looks super cool, and Rorschach's ever-morphing face mask is totally mesmerizing.
- Speaking of Rorschach, Jackie Earle Haley said that he gained inspiration and knowledge about how to play Rorschach by looking at online fan sites and blog threads and reading what all the fans believe Rorschach is like. "I learned a lot about him from you," he said. At an event where a lot of the movie panels seem to be mostly about stroking and re-stroking certain egos, this deferential comment — specifically toward the very types of people who attend Comic-Con — was really refreshing.