In addition to Terminator Salvation, this month's The Dark Knight also saw the debut of the trailer for Watchmen. This movie, like so many others this summer, is based on a comic book (or, in this case, graphic novel), but not one of a comic nature. There's little to find funny about this contemporary to Frank Miller's gritty The Dark Knight Returns. It setting is primarily realistic, with "super"-heroes who are nothing more than costumed crimefighters with a repertoire replete of human flaws. They hide behind their costumes, seeking refuge from a multitude of sins: megalomania, paranoia, violation. Alan Moore's book is often considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, and many of its diverse elements and plot threads appear in the trailer:
But to the casual viewer — the vast majority of moviegoers who have never read, or even heard of, a 21-year-old graphic novel — the above montage will likely be unintelligible. It clearly portrays a dystopian setting, but its variety of brooding characters does little to suggest a storyline. I expect the movie will be successful in capturing the book's themes; what I question is the studio's ability to sell it. Will they call it a cross between Sin City and 300? Their pride in Watchmen's printed origin is evident, and given the recent success of other comic conversions, there's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. So they're likely to continue promoting that background, unlike Constantine or Road to Perdition, which you'd think were meant for the silver screen.
It will be interesting to see the evolution of public perception as we near the watching of Watchmen.