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Critics get early look at ‘Watchmen’ scenes

Director Zack Snyder previewed and discussed three scenes from his upcoming graphic novel adaptation Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Who watched some of “Watchmen”?

Select members of the press. That’s who.

Director Zack Snyder previewed and discussed three scenes from his upcoming graphic novel adaptation Wednesday. The film is based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ award-winning graphic novel of the same name about a group of subversive superheroes in hiding.

Snyder, who directed “300,” said the movie was originally slated to be set in modern times and explained how he slowly persuaded studio Warner Bros. to stay true to the graphic novel’s alternate 1985 setting, where Richard Nixon remains president and outlaws superheroes.

“I was like, ‘What if we just set it back a little further, like 1990?”’ said Snyder. “And then we just said that 1985 is cooler because then it would be more of a period movie. That was how, for me anyway, I got as much of the graphic novel back in.”

Snyder began the preview — spoiler alert! — with the first 12 minutes of the film. The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is watching TV when a shadowy figure breaks into his apartment, attacking and eventually throwing him through a window to a bloody death below.

The opening credit montage detailed the early history of “Watchmen” characters from the 1930s to the 1970s. The montage featured the original Minutemen characters including Silhouette (Apollonia Vanova), who was killed alongside her girlfriend in the 1940s.

Next, Snyder showed a sequence detailing the origin of Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), which began with the blue superhero standing on Mars recalling his love affair with a fellow physicist and the experiment that transformed him into a matter-bending superbeing.

The final scene previewed focused on the second incarnations of Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) breaking into a prison to rescue fellow superhero Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) immediately after the duo had sex in Nite Owl’s ship.

“Watchmen” is scheduled to tick into movie theaters March 6, 2009, but the film’s release could be in jeopardy because of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Twentieth Century Fox, which claims to have the rights to distribute a film based on the graphic novel.

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“We’re just working on the movie,” Snyder said of the lawsuit. “I’m not a lawyer, so it’s hard for me to comment on that. I probably shouldn’t, I guess. We’ve just been forging ahead. If they wanted to come and stop us, I guess they would, but they haven’t yet.”

Snyder was also adamant that since no more “Watchmen” source material exists from the graphic novel, a sequel or prequel to his “Watchman” — currently clocking in at a beefy 2-hour-and-43-minute running time — could never be created. At least not one he’d direct.

“There can’t be a sequel,” said Snyder when asked about rumored sequel clauses in actors’ contracts. “There won’t be prequel. Not with me involved in it, anyway. They might be able to find someone to do it, but it won’t be me. That’s crazy talk.”