'Watchmen' Writer Defends Snyder Cut Tradition

As Zack Snyder fans continue to rally around the idea of releasing his assembly cut of Justice [...]

As Zack Snyder fans continue to rally around the idea of releasing his assembly cut of Justice League as a full-fledged director's cut, screenwriter and voice actor David Hayter stepped into the fray to say he still believes that Snyder's "Ultimate Cut" of Watchmen is the way to watch it.

Watchmen, based on one of the most acclaimed comic books of all time, was a property that floated around Hollywood for years, while filmmaker after filmmaker tried and failed to figure out how to shoot it. Finally, Warner Bros. brought in Snyder, fresh off the success of 300, to make the film, which was released theatrically in 2009.

After Larry Fong, a cinematographer who works with Snyder, tweeted that Snyder has had his own cut of almost every film he ever directed, Hayter chimed in with "Personally, I love the Watchmen Ultimate Cut."

Besides Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen is Snyder's best-reviewed directorial effort according to Rotten Tomatoes, but it has always been somewhat divisive. Some comic book fans questioned the cuts necessary to bring the runtime of the movie down to a manageable length for theatrical release.

(For the sake of this discussion, we will ignore the well-worn controversy over whether Watchmen should be adapted or followed up on at all. While it drove some criticism of the film in hardcore comic fan circles, it had little impact on how the outside world discussed the movie.)

In the months after Watchmen disappointed at the box office, it was released to home video in three cuts: a theatrical version, a "director's cut" and an "ultimate cut." The director's cut expanded the movie by more than 20 minutes, while the ultimate cut retained that extra content and added about 35 minutes of animated content created for a Tales of the Black Freighter animated film.

The Black Freighter animation told the "pirate story" included in the comic's narrative. Throughout Watchmen, a teenager at a newsstand would sit and read a comic book, a depiction of which were threaded through the comic and thematically mirrored elements of the main story.

The result, nearly four hours long, was as true an adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's comic as Snyder's vision and budget could support, and the question of whether it or the theatrical cut is the definitive version of the movie is something that fans have gone back and forth on for nearly a decade.

Snyder had director's cuts of Dawn of the Dead and an "Ultimate Cut" of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While home video audiences were somewhat more split on Dawn of the Dead, most viewers agreed that Batman v Superman benefited from the expanded canvas.

After brutal reviews for both Batman v Superman's theatrical cut and Suicide Squad, though, some fans and critics balked at the notion of extended home video cuts for both films (Snyder did not direct Suicide Squad, but executive produced it). This, combined with the Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen cuts, has led to widespread debate over Snyder's creative and commercial choices.

That debate will continue at least through February, when Justice League comes to Blu-ray with no sign of a "Snyder Cut" on the horizon yet.

CORRECTION: This story originally ran with Larry Fong misidentified as Snyder's still photographer, rather than his cinematographer (a role typically filled by Clay Enos). We regret the error.