“He’s done much more than slavishly adapt the graphic novel,” says Dave Gibbons, the comic’s original illustrator, who consulted on the film. “There’s a real visual authority.”
Snyder, a 43-year-old graduate of California Institute of the Arts who got his start making commercials, is one part fanboy, one part stylish visionary. His office is filled with memorabilia from his films as well as more macabre items, like a saber-toothed tiger skull he bought at a store in New York. “You can get a human femur there, if you’re into that sort of thing,” he says.
His first inclination was to pass on Watchmen, which stars Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Goode. But in the end, Snyder, a big fan of the comic—which, he recalls, “pretty much blew me away when I first read it” in the late Eighties—decided it was the opportunity of a lifetime. “It’d be like if George Lucas called and said, ‘Can you make a Star Wars movie for me?’” he says. “I would just not be able to say no.”
Though he’s now working on an animated film about owls, Snyder has yet to make a movie that his six children—two with an ex-girlfriend and four from his second marriage—can enjoy. He wonders what, in 15 years, they’ll make of his work, but that hasn’t stopped him from developing a movie called Sucker Punch, about an abused teen whose stepfather commits her to an insane asylum, where she’s given a lobotomy. She imagines the institution is a brothel with a cabaret. “It’s a bit like Moulin Rouge! with machine guns,” Snyder says without a hint of irony. “Whatever that means.”