Read Terry Gilliam’s Meta Alternate Watchmen Ending


There have been two versions of Watchmen with two different endings at this point, the comic and the film. The original graphic novel had a giant alien squid psionically destroy New York. Watchmen: The Movie had Doctor Manhattan blamed for the same feat.

The first ending was too bizarre to work, the second was a bit lackluster, though I will say an improvement. But Terry Gilliam’s ending? It may be the best of them all. Via ComingSoon:

Silver: … What Terry had done, and it was a Sam Hamm script—who had written a script that everybody loved for the first “Batman”—and then he brought in a guy who’d worked for him to do work on it [Charles McKeown, co-writer of “Brazil”]. What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from “Watchmen” only became characters in a comic book.

CS: That’s fascinating. Very META.

Silver: Oh yeah. So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they’re all of the sudden in Times Square and there’s a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There’s a kid reading the comic book and he’s like, “Hey, you’re just like in my comic book.” It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn’t happen. Lost to time.

It sounds bizarre, but I definitely prefer it to “psionic fake alien squid.” Though I would probably prefer anything to that. What about you? Is Gilliam’s ending too meta or could it have worked?

  • Tiago Andrade

    I would like to see the Gilliam version. The giant squid is a well placed deus ex machina that might not convince most of movie viewers, and the movie ending only makes sense if you don’t think about that for more than two minutes.

  • urgh. that sounds like an enormous cop out of an ending. Even though i read the book first i prefer the Doc Manhattan film ending. It’s neat and plausible within the film world.

  • Eric Juneau

    I still like the squid better.

  • The Gilliam ending is interesting, but (in my opinion) the other two endings were both better suited to their respective mediums. The squid was ridiculous, yes, but it was also EXTREMELY “comic-booky.” Just as the various hero characters were all Silver (and Golden) Age archetypes, that “space alien” was a very Silver Age -type threat presented in a darker, more grounded way. The movie ending, in a similar way, felt like a more standard “superhero movie” threat, handled in way that fit into the universe the Watchmen film created.

    … and, of course, the eagle-eyed viewer knows that the “squid” appears in the movie anyway. Watch for the logo for Veidt’s “Sub Quantum Intrinsic Device.”