Watchmen is currently enjoying a nice run on the small screen thanks to HBO and Damon Lindelof, but it turns out a very different version of the movie was almost brought to life in 2003. Warner Bros. released a version directed by Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) in 2009, but it turns out that David Hayter, who video game fans will know as the voice of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise, was also working on a version of his own. Now, some test footage from that version has been released online.
David Hayter had an important role to play in the superhero boom of the early 2000s, having penned movies such as X-Men and X2: X-Men United. That helped earn him a gig developing Watchmen as a feature. Recently, Hayter took to Twitter to reveal some test footage from his adaptation of Alan Moore's seminal comic book, which was never fully realized. Hayter had this to say about it.
"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 Joe Kraemer."
The clip features a familiar scene that appears in both Alan Moore's comic and Zack Snyder's movie. We see Rorschach in the apartment of his former partner, Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl. Rorschach has helped himself to a can of cold beans and the following exchange has to do with the murder of the Comedian. Rorschach tries to explain that he thinks former superheroes are being targeted, which Dan writes off as nonsense. The scene, in broad strokes, plays out largely as it does in Snyder's movie, but there are some major differences in tone and the overall look.
Granted, this is just test footage, so it's hard to know how this would have looked had David Hayter proceeded with his version. Ray Stevenson, of Punisher: War Zone and Thor fame, is a wildly different Rorschach than we came to know in Jackie Earle Haley. The costume also looks quite cheap, like something one might find in a Halloween store. But again, test footage. There's also the matter of Game of Thrones star Iain Glen as nite Owl, who is a far cry from what Patrick Wilson brought to the role.
The idea of adapting Alan More and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen dates back to 1986. As is often the case in Hollywood, things take time to develop and occasionally get caught in a cycle of development hell. Such was the case with this project. Ultimately, Zack Snyder's movie was met with a mixed response and wasn't a huge success at the box office, but has found an audience over the years. HBO's Watchmen show, which serves as a sequel to the events of the comic, has been met with a very positive response from viewers and critics thus far. Be sure to check out the test footage from David Hayter's Twitter for yourself.