Footage has landed online from a film take on Watchmen that predated Zack Snyder’s film.

Who watches the Watchmen? Everybody now, apparently.

For decades following the publication of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s seminal graphic novel, Watchmen, the travails it endured on the path to becoming a film adaptation are long and legendary. Ultimately, in 2009 under the stewardship of Zack Synder, we finally got a film adaptation, almost 25 years after the publication of the book, way back in 1985. Whilst not everybody was enamoured with the final product (although it does have its fans and we’d argue that the Ultimate Cut is well worth checking out,) it was always going to be difficult to make what has always been considered (including by the author himself) an unfilmable text.

Now of course, we have a Watchmen TV show airing, courtesy of Damon Lindelof, which has decided to go in a very different direction from the source material, and is probably all the better for it, we’d argue. Still though, that perfect onscreen representation of Moore’s iconic book remains as elusive now as it was back in the 1980s. That hasn’t stopped several creators trying though, and David Hayter has now released some test footage of a failed attempt to get a movie version off the ground that would have preceded Snyder’s version.

Fans of the comic book will recognise the classic sequence, starring Iain Glen (known better as Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones) as Dan Dreiberg (or Nite Owl) alongside Rorschach, played by Ray Stevenson, who played the title role in Punisher: War Zone. Whilst it’s completely unfair to judge the merits of the adaptation on test footage, which lacks the budget of a full-scale production, it still makes a very interesting curio and showcases Hayter (who was on a hot streak at the time, having penned X-Men and X2) doing his best to use lots of the original book’s dialogue and memorable moments whilst adding in a twist or two of his own, something Snyder’s utterly faithful adaptation largely declined to do. Do have a look!

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