Watchmen

When it finally opened in 2009, Watchmen had been developing for decades under a great many different people. One of them was Terry Gilliam, who’d been attached in the ’90s to helm from a script by Charles McKeown with Joel Silver producing. Alas, they were unable to make it work, and the project eventually fell into Zack Snyder‘s lap.

And while the version he turned in wasn’t bad, really, it wasn’t great, either. Certainly it’s not as great as Silver thinks Gilliam’s movie would’ve been — and after hearing his description of it, we’re inclined to agree. Hit the jump to find out the crazy-brilliant ending Gilliam had had in mind for the Alan Moore-based superhero saga.

Silver spilled the details in an interview with Coming Soon. Though he claimed that he liked Snyder’s Watchmen “very much,” he wasn’t shy about declaring that Gilliam’s would have been “a MUCH much better movie.”

For one thing, he said, Snyder “was too much of a slave to the material.” Though Snyder (or rather his screenwriters) rewrote the ending, he more or less stayed faithful to the plot of the books. In contrast, Gillian’s conclusion would have added a completely new twist.

What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from “Watchmen” only became characters in a comic book.

Silver explained further:

So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they’re all of the sudden in Times Square and there’s a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There’s a kid reading the comic book and he’s like, “Hey, you’re just like in my comic book.” It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn’t happen. Lost to time.

Granted, since Gilliam never actually got to make his Watchmen movie, we’ll never see how his proposed ending would’ve actually played out. Maybe it would’ve looked silly in practice. In theory, though, this sounds like a great idea — bold, smart, and genuinely surprising. Which ending do you prefer?

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