Watchmen Director Zack Snyder Fires Back, Blasting Joel Silver And Terry Gilliam’s Proposed Ending


If this is turning into a good, old-fashioned Hollywood feud, it’s one of the most bizarre ones in recent memory. While chatting with Coming Soon last week to promote Non-Stop, producer Joel Silver opened up about his failed attempt to make Watchmen with Time Bandits director Terry Gilliam, revealing the ending they would have preferred over director Zack Snyder’s version. If you’ll remember, Silver had none too many kind words for Snyder’s adaptation of the iconic graphic novel, calling it “too much of a slave to the material.” Now, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Snyder is hitting back.

The director, who won the admiration of many critics and the derision of others for making a painstakingly faithful adaptation of Watchmen, went with an ending very similar to author Alan Moore’s original version, simply trading out a squid-like alien (one of the more far-fetched aspects of the graphic novel) for weaponized energy reactors, using Dr. Manhattan as the force to unite the world’s warring forces as opposed to extraterrestrials. Gilliam’s ending, by comparison, was a massive deviation from the source material. In his take, Ozymandias convinced Dr. Manhattan to go back in time to prevent himself from being created, essentially destroying the universe in which the film took place. Consequently, the Watchmen only ever existed as characters in a graphic novel.

On Gilliam’s ending, Snyder said:

“[I]f you read the Gilliam ending, it’s completely insane. […] Yeah, the fans would have stormed the castle on that one. So, honestly, I made “Watchmen” for myself. It’s probably my favorite movie that I’ve made. And I love the graphic novel and I really love everything about the movie. I love the style. I just love the movie and it was a labor of love. And I made it because I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy. So, finally I made it to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.”

In response to Silver accusing his film (which the director noted is “probably” his favorite of all the movies he’s made) of being overly faithful,  Snyder said that, “If you love the graphic novel, there’s just no way” to do Gilliam’s ending. “It would be like if you were doing Romeo and Juliet and instead of them waking up in the grave area, they would have time-traveled back in time and none of it would have happened,” he explained. Snyder further elaborated, saying to complaints that he strayed from Moore’s novel that:

“That’s the problem with genre. That’s the problem with comic book movies and genre. And I believe that we’ve evolved — I believe that the audiences have evolved. I feel like “Watchmen” came out at sort of the height of the snarky Internet fanboy — like, when he had his biggest strength. And I think if that movie came out now — and this is just my opinion — because now that we’ve had “Avengers” and comic book culture is well established, I think people would realize that the movie is a satire. You know, the whole movie is a satire. It’s a genre-busting movie. The graphic novel was written to analyze the graphic novel — and comic books and the Cold War and politics and the place that comic books play in the mythology of pop culture. I guess that’s what I’m getting at with the end of “Watchmen” — in the end, the most important thing with the end was that it tells the story of the graphic novel. The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel — I used slightly different devices. The Gilliam version, if you look at it, it has nothing to do with the idea that is the end of the graphic novel. And that’s the thing that I would go, “Well, then don’t do it.” It doesn’t make any sense.”

Snyder finally drove the comparison between his and Gilliam’s ending home by saying that:

[My version]’s just using elements that are in the comic book already, that’s the only thing I did. I would not have grabbed something from out of the air and said, “Oh, here’s a cool ending” just because it’s cool.

Personally, I’m happy that Snyder made the film he did. Moore’s novel is brilliant for its distinctive, multi-layered vision, and Gilliam’s tacked-on conclusion sounds like a total betrayal of everything Watchmen was about. Hopefully Silver won’t still be hot on the property by the time an inevitable remake rolls around.

Which ending to Watchmen would you have preferred? Let us know below!