Patrick Wilson Thinks Zack Snyder's Watchmen Set The Stage For The Avengers


There is a binary within the superhero movie fandom. On one side, you have the Marvel Cinematic Universe stans ready to eat up the next Easter egg or sequel tease. On the other, you have the Zack Snyder bros, a militant army of supporters who worship everything he does. I am not on either side of the equation, and frankly, I find both of them to be exceptionally annoying. Yes, their discourse is the primary driver of that, but it goes beyond the fan communities as well. Mostly, I don't understand the fervor on either side for these movies that just are not very good.

On the Snyder side, you have films that so desperately want to be thematically complicated, but are directed by someone so in love with glamorizing every bit of violence and darkness in the piece that they end up saying nothing, and on the other, you have a long series of movies where most have no aesthetic or thematic point of view to speak of. Neither are for me, but I understand that the two poles are in direct conversation with one another, acting as a rebuttal to the other. The darker Snyder goes, the lighter Marvel goes.

I am not the only one to see this. So does Snyder collaborator Patrick Wilson, who most notably starred in Snyder's 2009 adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic comic book "Watchmen." Looking back, Wilson sees Joss Whedon's 2012 superhero team picture "The Avengers" as something that could only happen in a world where Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" already exists.

You need to go dark so you can go light

Because "Watchmen" and "The Avengers" exist on these opposite poles, it may not seem like they have much of anything to do with one another. However, Patrick Wilson, speaking on the Reel Blend podcast, put it rather well when describing how "The Avengers" could only feel like a needed relief:

Now, I disagree with Wilson that "Watchmen" was "ahead of the curve." I'd argue it's more "completely misunderstanding the story," but that's a story for another day. But I do think he's right about the dichotomy of lightness and darkness. "The Avengers" came at a time where the "dark and gritty" superhero movie was all the rage, as the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films were the pinnacle of the genre. Snyder pushed that darkness even further in "Watchmen," and while I disagree with how he did it, that doesn't mean he didn't do that pushing. Once "Watchmen" comes out, it's hard to go deeper into that hole. The only response is to pivot 180 degrees, and it doesn't get more light and glib than Joss Whedon.

Patrick Wilson would go on to appear in a comic book movie that I feel got the balance of all the different superhero tones correct: "Aquaman." "Watchmen" may be the only movie of his he's "watched front to back since a premiere," but if I want my Patrick Wilson superhero fix, I'm throwing on James Wan's Atlantean epic 100 times out of 100.