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Let The Bitching Begin

March 6th, 2008

Costume photos from the upcoming film adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel Watchmen have just surfaced. Some folks are already pissed off because Nite Owl doesn’t look enough like a pudgy Adam West in tights.

Look, I get it: the Nite Owl of the original story is a somewhat pathetic fortysomething who recognizes the absurdity of dressing up in a Halloween costume to fight crime. But if you put a live actor in this outfit:

You get this:

Which is fine if you’re going for comedy. If you put Arthur from The Tick in a trailer for a general audience unfamiliar with Watchmen, they’re going to assume it’s a spoof. Which it’s not. At all.

Besides, the “tubby guy in tights” deconstruction has been done–repeatedly–since Watchmen was published in 1986. It’s not just The Tick, which at least played largely to the fanboy base, but one that pretty much everyone has actually seen: The Incredibles. Hell, even DC Comics’ Blue Beetle–the character that provided the basis for Nite Owl–went through his own portly phase.

There are other ways to express Nite Owl’s character without making him look like a schlub in a leotard.

Me, I like the costumes. But what do I know? I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of V for Vendetta, and even got a kick out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So my perspective about Alan Moore adaptations is suspect. (Alan Moore would certainly agree.)

The photos give me hope that the filmmakers are at least trying to do justice to the source material, as does the news that they intend to produce “Tales of the Black Freighter,” the story-within-a-story that parallels the main plot, as a DVD extra. It’s the sort of thing you could never do within the movie proper, but it’s perfect for DVD. Maybe they’ll produce some of the other sidebar material from the original novel as well.

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