What We Talk About When We Talk About Watchmen
Dan: Let's try to go shot by shot through the footage we saw... The first thing that stood out to me was the initial image. The first shot in the comic book, which is so iconic, is the bloody smiley face button lying in the gutter -- that is not the first shot in the movie. The first shot in the movie is the smiley face, no blood, on the Comedian's robe. So right away from the very instant you start watching the movie, you see that Zack is doing something very different from the comic. He's not flashing back to the murder later on; he's starting with it in a more straightforward narrative way.
Zach: Yeah, and I have absolutely no problem with that because as convoluted and as complicated as Watchmen is, and as much as the flashbacks are part of the book, whatever Snyder can do to reorganize the material slightly to make it easier for the moviegoing audience to tap into, without affecting anything substantial about the story, is a good thing, I think. The fact that he can do this one simple thing to show a piece of action that was only talked about or remembered or flashed back to, and have the storyline become more linear and the movie start off with a really decent action set-piece -- even if it didn't need to be done that way -- goes a long way towards making this the Watchmen movie as opposed to the Watchmen comic book. A movie and a comic book are two completely different things and while you can do your best to adapt the comic book as it is, it really needs to change to be a successful movie.
Dan: And he's doing a lot of things in that opening scene. One of them is just for the audience, the newbies, who aren't as familiar with the comic book, he's setting up the Russia-Cold War-Nixon stuff. To me, that's all good exposition. And I also thought it was important that this opening scene -- again, different from the comic book -- is the first time we've really seen the Comedian in action. In the comic book, we see him shooting into a crowd or murdering a woman, but we never see him as an action hero. We're actually now seeing that this guy really knows how to fight, even though he's past his prime age-wise.