Before Zack Snyder was directing the adaptation of Watchmen, there was director Paul Greengrass of The Bourne Supremacy. With 20th Century Fox, Greengrass planned for the film to be a modern take on the graphic novel. Production designer Dominic Watkins designed much of the pre-production art, and didn’t hesitate to show his personal collection while discussing his and Greengrass’ could-have-been take on Watchmen.
“It would’ve been done a little bit documentary-style, with a little news reporting mixed in. I feel like that would’ve been really interesting to see it as real-feeling as possible. Obviously, Doctor Manhattan was always going to be the biggest challenge to that. When there’s a 50-foot blue man, it’s hard to cinematically make it feel real. I felt they actually did a good job with that in Snyder’s.”
The documentary approach with some of the film would have been a nice touch, and is something I would’ve really liked. Despite that it would deviate a bit from the graphic novel, it still would have kept the essential feel of the story.
Watkins discussed the differences between Snyder’s glass palace and his version of Doctor Manhattan’s Mars construct:
“These photographs I found were of magnified tiny particles and the photographs of the cosmos and the similarities between them. When he’s creating it, the notion was that he’d start with these atoms and neutrons and combine them. They’d look very much like living atoms, but they’d combine into this vast cosmos that he’s creating and pulling in his hand. That was something where I felt we had something quite original and unique.”
It’s an effect that would have put audience members in complete awe to see Doctor Manhattan manipulate matter in such a way. And it would’ve added more to the science part of Doctor Manhattan. It was a perfect fit.
Overall, I’m still glad we got Zack Snyder’s take on an adaptation of Watchmen. He stayed very close to the source material with only a few changes that are disagreeable. Although, implementing some of the ideas like above from Watkins would have propelled the film higher.