Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF Critic Series #17: Sonny Bunch, Watchmen

 

This week, we’re doing a crossover: Sonny Bunch of the SubBeacon (formerly SubStandard) is joining me to talk about Zack Snyder, the only artist of the superhero blockbuster era, and his greatest achievement, Watchmen, the best superhero movie we have, on its 10th anniversary. Listen, share, and join us in the comments!

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There are 28 comments.

  1. Rōnin Inactive

    Good job Titus. Rorschach was my favorite character in Watchmen, he was easy to relate to for me. My comic books of chose as a kid were all from the Marvel silver age. I didn’t much care for Superman because he had the power to do anything so game over as far as I was concern. The rest of the DC comics of that period were kind of lame to me. I liked Iron man (Tony Stark reminded me a lot of my own father – minus the money and success), Dr. Strange, Spider man, Thor and the Hulk. I also liked the way Marvel would throw in these secondary characters like Nick Fury Agent of S.H.E.L.D. and Dare Devil. Anyway, I liked the show.

    • #1
    • January 31, 2019, at 3:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Thanks! I also think Iron Man & Dr. Strange in different ways stood out. I don’t suppose anyone at the time figured out how influential they’d be, but there were signs. I also agree that Marvel’s ability to suggest depth was a big deal; the movies have failed to do anything like that in the decade or so the MCU’s been building up. I suppose the difference is, with kids reading comics, the writers were sure they’d have an attentive & eager audience for interesting things going on in the background; whereas for the movies, mastermind Kevin Feige thinks it’s gotta be all-focus, no-clutter or you’re losing your audience. Maybe crossovers are too litigated behind the scenes, too gamed out in meetings, & of course too hyped in the press & online (to say nothing of Comicon).

    • #2
    • January 31, 2019, at 11:57 PM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Judge Mental Member

    Are you discussing a particular release here? I’ve seen the original theatrical release, but I think there is another longer version.

    • #3
    • February 1, 2019, at 12:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Are you discussing a particular release here? I’ve seen the original theatrical release, but I think there is another longer version.

    There’s three. We talk a bit about the differences. The longest one has one stupid idea. The director’s cut is grand. The theatrical was ok.

    • #4
    • February 1, 2019, at 1:52 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Are you discussing a particular release here? I’ve seen the original theatrical release, but I think there is another longer version.

    There’s three. We talk a bit about the differences. The longest one has one stupid idea. The director’s cut is grand. The theatrical was ok.

    With no previous knowledge of the story, on first viewing the theatrical version was virtually incomprehensible. With multiple viewings, I’ve got a pretty good idea what they were going for, but even now I have basic questions.

    • #5
    • February 1, 2019, at 2:06 AM PST
    • Like
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Are you discussing a particular release here? I’ve seen the original theatrical release, but I think there is another longer version.

    There’s three. We talk a bit about the differences. The longest one has one stupid idea. The director’s cut is grand. The theatrical was ok.

    With no previous knowledge of the story, on first viewing the theatrical version was virtually incomprehensible. With multiple viewings, I’ve got a pretty good idea what they were going for, but even now I have basic questions.

    That’s interesting. So what perplexed you when you first saw it? 

    What’s on your mind now?

    • #6
    • February 1, 2019, at 2:52 AM PST
    • Like
  7. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Are you discussing a particular release here? I’ve seen the original theatrical release, but I think there is another longer version.

    There’s three. We talk a bit about the differences. The longest one has one stupid idea. The director’s cut is grand. The theatrical was ok.

    With no previous knowledge of the story, on first viewing the theatrical version was virtually incomprehensible. With multiple viewings, I’ve got a pretty good idea what they were going for, but even now I have basic questions.

    That’s interesting. So what perplexed you when you first saw it?

    The real and/or superhero names and powers for about half the characters, both the originals who are all dead, and the current crop. They’re tossed into the mix with virtually no backstory, the exception being Dr. Manhattan.

    What’s on your mind now?

    Still the same… who has superpowers and who doesn’t.

    The Comedian seems like just a brawler, but appears unchanged decades later. Superpowers or clean living? We don’t know, because no backstory.

    Veidt (sp?). We’re told he’s super smart, but he can also catch bullets. I’m fairly bright, but I’m not trying that anytime soon. Superpowers or no? If so, where’d he get them? Is this city infested with radioactive spiders? It would explain a lot.

    The mother and daughter have super big boobs, but don’t appear to have superpowers. Until the daughter beats up half a prison worth of guys twice her size. Superpowers or standard super hot action babe?

    Rorschach? Doesn’t appear to have powers, but then there is the mask. How do the inkblots change? Magic?… high-tech? We don’t know because they never mention it.

    Other than Manhattan, most of the backstory is for the original group, who are mostly dead, while ignoring most of the current crop. You can do that with the Justice League because they’re all iconic. Pretty much the same with the Avengers. But this is two entirely new groups, and you don’t know much of anything about half of them.

    • #7
    • February 1, 2019, at 8:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    I see your point. I think some of this may be your over-thinking. Not that you shouldn’t know who the guys are–just that the details aren’t required for a first viewing. So nobody is really super-powered but Dr M. It’s just taken for granted their heroic. A lot of the ambiguity rests on the fact that they’re just enthusiastic Americans. Kinda like everyone else; kinda not. Except Ozymandias, who’s globalized capitalism embodied, with a dash of disco sexual ambiguity–see David Bowie.

    For the intrigued, of course, there’s the wonderful five-minute montage that shows the history of heroes in America!

    • #8
    • February 1, 2019, at 8:22 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I see your point. I think some of this may be your over-thinking. Not that you shouldn’t know who the guys are–just that the details aren’t required for a first viewing. So nobody is really super-powered but Dr M. It’s just taken for granted their heroic. A lot of the ambiguity rests on the fact that they’re just enthusiastic Americans. Kinda like everyone else; kinda not. Except Ozymandias, who’s globalized capitalism embodied, with a dash of disco sexual ambiguity–see David Bowie.

    For the intrigued, of course, there’s the wonderful five-minute montage that shows the history of heroes in America!

    Many movies suffer from an overabundance of exposition. This one could have used a little more. That’s why I asked about the director’s cut. I was wondering if that version cleared up some of this stuff.

    • #9
    • February 1, 2019, at 8:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I see your point. I think some of this may be your over-thinking. Not that you shouldn’t know who the guys are–just that the details aren’t required for a first viewing. So nobody is really super-powered but Dr M. It’s just taken for granted their heroic. A lot of the ambiguity rests on the fact that they’re just enthusiastic Americans. Kinda like everyone else; kinda not. Except Ozymandias, who’s globalized capitalism embodied, with a dash of disco sexual ambiguity–see David Bowie.

    For the intrigued, of course, there’s the wonderful five-minute montage that shows the history of heroes in America!

    Many movies suffer from an overabundance of exposition. This one could have used a little more. That’s why I asked about the director’s cut. I was wondering if that version cleared up some of this stuff.

    I don’t know–I’ve not seen the theatrical since… Anyway, I had read the comics, so I wouldn’t have thought about this at the time. Sorry. I have showed the movie to a couple of people who had no advance knowledge & they seemed to roll with the punches alright–the director’s cut…

    • #10
    • February 1, 2019, at 9:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I see your point. I think some of this may be your over-thinking. Not that you shouldn’t know who the guys are–just that the details aren’t required for a first viewing. So nobody is really super-powered but Dr M. It’s just taken for granted their heroic. A lot of the ambiguity rests on the fact that they’re just enthusiastic Americans. Kinda like everyone else; kinda not. Except Ozymandias, who’s globalized capitalism embodied, with a dash of disco sexual ambiguity–see David Bowie.

    For the intrigued, of course, there’s the wonderful five-minute montage that shows the history of heroes in America!

    Many movies suffer from an overabundance of exposition. This one could have used a little more. That’s why I asked about the director’s cut. I was wondering if that version cleared up some of this stuff.

    I don’t know–I’ve not seen the theatrical since… Anyway, I had read the comics, so I wouldn’t have thought about this at the time. Sorry. I have showed the movie to a couple of people who had no advance knowledge & they seemed to roll with the punches alright–the director’s cut…

    Eh. I enjoyed it enough to watch it more than once, and that way noticed some details that filled in a few of the blanks. But then, I watched Southland Tales more than once, and I didn’t even know that was a comedy until I saw a behind the scenes feature and one of the actors mentioned it.

    • #11
    • February 1, 2019, at 9:46 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    That’s a really good crack!

    • #12
    • February 1, 2019, at 12:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Rōnin Inactive

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Thanks! I also think Iron Man & Dr. Strange in different ways stood out. I don’t suppose anyone at the time figured out how influential they’d be, but there were signs. I also agree that Marvel’s ability to suggest depth was a big deal; the movies have failed to do anything like that in the decade or so the MCU’s been building up. I suppose the difference is, with kids reading comics, the writers were sure they’d have an attentive & eager audience for interesting things going on in the background; whereas for the movies, mastermind Kevin Feige thinks it’s gotta be all-focus, no-clutter or you’re losing your audience. Maybe crossovers are too litigated behind the scenes, too gamed out in meetings, & of course too hyped in the press & online (to say nothing of Comicon).

    And just to jump in on @judgemental and your (@titustechera) discussion, Marvel comics spent years developing story lines and backgrounds of their main and secondary characters. So I understand where the Judge is coming from because if you had not read the Watchmen comic book series (1986-1987, Gen X period) you would have missed out on a lot of the character back stories. But I think this is also why Watchmen didn’t do so well on its inital release because it was aimed at a specific demographic audiance (Gen X’ers) who would have been more familiar with the story line. Those of us who were not, had to go back and learn it. For me, the Watchmen movie had a interresting enough story line for me to dig in a little deeper. The Marvel comic Vietnam period story lines from 1965-1975 reflects on how the public mood of the U.S. changed during that period. As it has been said, politics is downstream from pop culture.

    Iron Man #78, 1968

    • #13
    • February 1, 2019, at 1:33 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the beginning of Watchmen should have just been more interesting & more obvious for new audiences.

    • #14
    • February 1, 2019, at 2:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the beginning of Watchmen should have just been more interesting & more obvious for new audiences.

    It could have been easily accomplished too. On the part about who has super powers, one line of dialog could have cleared it up. When Rorschach goes to warn Dr. M and the chick:

    “You’re the one with super powers, the rest of us are just doing the best we can.”

    Give me something like that and I’ll put the apparent examples of super human abilities among the others down to the normal excesses of modern action movie making. Instead of it distracting me as I try to figure it out.

    • #15
    • February 1, 2019, at 2:38 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Judge Mental Member

    Do you ever watch these? Typically pretty funny, and usually make some valid points.

     

    • #16
    • February 2, 2019, at 3:25 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Do you ever watch these? Typically pretty funny, and usually make some valid points.

     

    The dude can be a little whiny, but he spots most of the plot holes and the motivational disconnects.

    • #17
    • February 2, 2019, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Oh man … i am so tired of superheroes. If a trope is to be beaten to death, can we at least rotate tropes from time to time?

    • #18
    • February 2, 2019, at 7:10 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Percival (View Comment):

    Oh man … i am so tired of superheroes. If a trope is to be beaten to death, can we at least rotate tropes from time to time?

    Not for a while. There’s a large generation of Americans sick of how petty & nothingburger most of life is.

    • #19
    • February 2, 2019, at 1:04 PM PST
    • Like
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Oh man … i am so tired of superheroes. If a trope is to be beaten to death, can we at least rotate tropes from time to time?

    Not for a while. There’s a large generation of Americans sick of how petty & nothingburger most of life is.

    That’s because the only books that they have read have Harry Potter in them.

    • #20
    • February 2, 2019, at 1:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Maybe, but I think 20 years of bipartisan crisis in economics, society, foreign policy, party politics, technology, &c. maybe also played a role-

    • #21
    • February 2, 2019, at 8:08 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Maybe, but I think 20 years of bipartisan crisis in economics, society, foreign policy, party politics, technology, &c. maybe also played a role-

    But they don’t know anything about economics, foreign policy, or party politics. That leaves society and technology, and kids are drawn to new tech (to such a degree that they frequently are amusingly ignorant of old tech). That leaves society, which is deteriorating rapidly. 

    • #22
    • February 2, 2019, at 8:47 PM PST
    • Like
  23. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Percival (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Maybe, but I think 20 years of bipartisan crisis in economics, society, foreign policy, party politics, technology, &c. maybe also played a role-

    But they don’t know anything about economics, foreign policy, or party politics. That leaves society and technology, and kids are drawn to new tech (to such a degree that they frequently are amusingly ignorant of old tech). That leaves society, which is deteriorating rapidly.

    No one needs to know about these things to know their parents are screaming at the TV when the news come on; or that the whole country lost its confidence; that nobody knows when the economy might be hopeful again or what to do about the debt. What generation since the Depression has been given a more rotten deal?

    • #23
    • February 3, 2019, at 12:34 AM PST
    • Like
  24. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Do you ever watch these? Typically pretty funny, and usually make some valid points.

    I don’t like this sort of video. They get some things right, but so much stupidity from people who pretend to be oh, so clever & sarcastic. If you want to make a case that the internet is making Americans into the stupidest animals on the planet–listen to this guy say the Nixon thing was implausible, since America wouldn’t elect anyone for five terms even without term limits. Apparently, since Watchmen doesn’t include FDR, this guy doesn’t know about him.

    Audiences who ignorantly like movies seem to me much smarter & more normal than this sort of show.

    I’ve myself, of course, considered how you could tell people about what’s right & what’s wrong in movies, but I dunno that it can be done, since there’s so much of a temptation to put garbage on offer & it’s all so popular. The problem with this particular show is, they piss on authors who are far wiser than them. It’s parasitic in the worst way. They deprive audiences of admiration for great things. Other shows, like honest trailers, tend instead to fanboyism & only pretend to cynicism, when they’re mindless adorers. But I don’t know any show that’s honest about what’s great & why, where people make mistakes, &c.

    • #24
    • February 3, 2019, at 2:31 AM PST
    • Like
  25. Judge Mental Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Do you ever watch these? Typically pretty funny, and usually make some valid points.

    I don’t like this sort of video. They get some things right, but so much stupidity from people who pretend to be oh, so clever & sarcastic. If you want to make a case that the internet is making Americans into the stupidest animals on the planet–listen to this guy say the Nixon thing was implausible, since America wouldn’t elect anyone for five terms even without term limits. Apparently, since Watchmen doesn’t include FDR, this guy doesn’t know about him.

    Audiences who ignorantly like movies seem to me much smarter & more normal than this sort of show.

    I’ve myself, of course, considered how you could tell people about what’s right & what’s wrong in movies, but I dunno that it can be done, since there’s so much of a temptation to put garbage on offer & it’s all so popular. The problem with this particular show is, they piss on authors who are far wiser than them. It’s parasitic in the worst way. They deprive audiences of admiration for great things. Other shows, like honest trailers, tend instead to fanboyism & only pretend to cynicism, when they’re mindless adorers. But I don’t know any show that’s honest about what’s great & why, where people make mistakes, &c.

    The same guy makes What’s Great About videos, including one for Watchmen.

    • #25
    • February 3, 2019, at 2:53 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    I’ll check that one out!

    • #26
    • February 3, 2019, at 3:29 AM PST
    • Like
  27. Judge Mental Member

     

    • #27
    • February 3, 2019, at 3:30 AM PST
    • Like
  28. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Gave it a shot. It’s bad. I suppose the snippets format is itself to blame. Always tearing stuff apart. It’s weird to keep using the same things as wins & losses both, but I guess it’s the business. It would be as silly to blame guys like this as to blame the media.

    For computer games at least I know one guy who puts a lot of time & thought into his videos–he does well, though probably not as successful as these other guys. But he’s really good at what he does & he makes an effort to figure out what goes on.

    That said, thanks for sharing these things. I do care about what goes on on the curatorial-critical side, but I cannot often bring myself to put up with the stuff.

    • #28
    • February 3, 2019, at 5:49 AM PST
    • 1 like