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Paul Greengrass Compares Unmade ‘Watchmen’ Movie to ‘Joker’: ‘It Might’ve Been Disastrous’

Greengrass says "Joker" and Christopher Nolan's Batman films better achieved what he planned for "Watchmen."

"Watchmen"

“Watchmen”

Warner Bros.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic book “Watchmen” has inspired adaptations from Zack Snyder (Warner Bros.’ 2009 movie) and Damon Lindelof (HBO’s 2019 limited series), and once upon a time it was Paul Greengrass who was set to bring Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias, and Nite Owl to the big screen. Greengrass was attached to the film adaptation before Snyder — as was Darren Aronofsky — but “The Bourne Identity” and “Captain Phillips” director said on a recent episode of MTV’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast that his vision for a “Watchmen” movie might’ve be a disaster.

“Whatever the vision was, I didn’t articulate it clearly because the movie never got made,” Greengrass said. “I loved the graphic novel, and I loved Zack [Snyder‘s] movie, by the way, which was a very faithful rendition of it. My view was, I didn’t want to do a faithful adaptation, and that might have been a disastrous endeavor and perhaps why I didn’t get the movie made.”

Greengrass detailed his vision for “Watchmen” by explaining, “I wanted to believe these characters lived in the real world and that a lot of what they were thinking and doing was delusional.” As a comparison, the filmmaker said his vision was in a similar vein to what Todd Phillips executed with “Joker,” which Greengrass called “an absolutely brilliant film.”

“There was something in ‘Joker’ that had [a similar] quality to it,” Greengrass said. “The Joker was in a real world, and he was filled with delusions, and [so the story idea was] superheroes’ identities were within people’s minds and were interior delusions as opposed to actualities. And the [movie] idea would have been where [the two ideas] join, if that makes sense.”

Greengrass added, “I’m not sure if it would have worked, but I’ve always thought about that. I think Christopher Nolan did it far, far better than I could with Batman. ‘Cause that’s what he did with Batman in a funny way, [he grounded it]. [Gotham] was the perfect place where you could make those characters live in a world that felt real and yet wasn’t real.”

Greengrass is currently in theaters with his Western drama “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks. Head over to MTV’s website to listen to the director’s full podcast appearance.

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