Many are familiar with Zack Snyder’s 2009 superhero film Watchmen, based on the well renowned graphic novel of the same name. The film became a cult favorite among comic book fans and was also one of the first R-rated comic book films to get some mainstream notoriety. What some may not know is that a Watchmen adaptation was in development hell for quite some time before production of the 2009 film began. Back in 2001 Universal Studios made an attempt to create an adaptation and hired David Hayter to write and direct the film.
For any curious #Watchmen fans,
Here is the final, color corrected clip of the Watchmen test I directed in 2003.
Iain Glen as Nite Owl, Ray Stevenson as Rorschach.
Score by the brilliant @joekraemer
— David Hayter (@DavidBHayter) November 26, 2019
While David Hayter is best known for voicing Solid Snake and Big Boss in the Metal Gear Solid video game series, he’s also written a few films as well. Hayter was riding off the success of writing the first X-Men film, but his Watchmen never went into production. Recently on his Twitter account, Hayter released some test footage for his adaptation of Watchmen back in 2003. The footage offers a recreation of the scene where Rorschach informs Daniel Dreiberg (aka Nite Owl II) about the Comedian’s death. In this version, Rorschach is portrayed by Ray Stevenson from the series Dexter, while Nite Owl is portrayed by Iain Glen, best known as Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones. Despite its lower budget appearance, this version still feels very similar to the Zack Snyder film with its dialogue ripped straight out of the book.
Hayter left the project early on due to creative differences and Alex Tse, known for the Wu-Tang: An American Saga series, rewrote the script that was used for the final film. However, Hayter still received credit for his contribution. Regardless of how some may feel about Zack Snyder’s film overall, its production is still fascinating and helped bring even more recognition to one of the most critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time. Plus, with the recent HBO sequel series becoming one of the most talked about shows this year, it is clear that Watchmen‘s reputation is still going strong to this day.