Watchmen hit theaters in 2009. The Zack Snyder-directed film did what, for a time, seemed impossible by bringing Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal superhero series to the big screen. But before Snyder got his hands on the property, a studio hired David Hayter to adapt the comic. Now Hayter has released never-before-seen test footage from his version of the film. Shot in 2003, the footage casts Punisher: War Zone star Ray Stevenson as Rorschach. Iain Glen, the former Game of Thrones star who now plays Bruce Wayne on DC Universe’s Titans, plays Daniel Dreiberg, formerly the hero Nite Owl. It also includes a score from Joe Kraemer.
The scene is taken straight from the source material. Rorshach lets himself into Dreiberg’s apartment. Dreiberg, now retired from the superhero lifestyle, comes home to find Rorshach eating beans. Rorshach informs Dreiberg that someone murdered the Comedian. He shares his concern that one of their old foes may have returned to hunt them down. Dreiberg thinks this is paranoid talk and Rorshach exits through the secret passage to Dreiberg’s old Nite Owl headquarters.
Universal hired Hayter to adapt Watchmen in 2001. That partnership fell apart over creative differences. In 2004, the project moved to Paramount Pictures. Darren Aronofsky was set to replace Hayter as the director but would work from Hayter's script. Aronofsky departed Watchmen to focus on The Fountain. Paramount replaced him with Paul Greengrass but soon abandoned the project. In 2006, the film’s producers brought the project to Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder became attached. Hayter still received a writing credit on the final product, though Alex Tse rewrote the script. The most notable change is that Tse returned the story to the Cold War era, which was the setting of the comic, where Hayter’s version moved the story into modern times.
For any curious #Watchmen fans,
Here is the final, color corrected clip of the Watchmen test I directed in 2003.
Iain Glen as Nite Owl, Ray Stevenson as Rorschach.
Score by the brilliant @joekraemerNovember 26, 2019
With Snyder’s film now a decade old, Watchmen has returned to live-action as an HBO series from Damon Lindelof. Once considered a sacred, standalone text, DC Comics has over the past decade created a number of spinoff projects in the Watchmen universe. In 2012, DC launched Before Watchmen, a line of eight miniseries set before the events of Watchmen. Since 2017, DC has been publishing Doomsday Clock, a 12-issue sequel to Watchmen that ties into the events of the DC Universe since the launch of The New 52. DC first hinted at this connection between the two universes in 2016’s DC Rebirth, which also laid the groundwork for “The Button,” a Batman and The Flash crossover story that saw the two superhero detectives launching an investigation into the appearance in the DC Universe of what readers know to be the Comedian’s bloodstained button form Watchmen.
What do you think of the test footage for David Hayter’s version of the Watchmen movie? Let us know in the comments section.