It's a sacred comic, bobbing and weaving throughout the hallmarks of popular culture as if it were Forrest Gump's evil twin. It explores the very nature of the "blockbuster," deconstructing our popcorn heroes with the tools of philosophy, theology and morality. So it only makes sense that Steven Spielberg, the man who has shaped so much of our modern entertainment, would get an off-kilter shout-out in the new "Watchmen" trailer.
"I take this heart-attack serious, I really do," director Zack Snyder explained to me this week when he sat down with MTV to give his only interview regarding the eye-popping first trailer for his 3.6.09 movie. "If you look, there's one super-crazy Easter egg."
One of the reasons we love the writer/director is because he "gets" the fans -- as evidenced by the blink-and-you-miss-it Rorschach test footage he snuck into a "300" trailer last year. He knows that people are so excited for "Watchmen" that they’ll be watching the trailer frame-by-frame as it floods the Internet -- so now, he's at it again.
"If you look, when you see Adrian [Veidt] hitting this would-be assassin in the trailer, the guy gets hit with a stanchion, one of those brass stanchions, and the guy flies in the fountain," Snyder revealed to us, making reference to the scene in Alan Moore's classic comic where Ozymandias avoids an assassination attempt.
"[The assassin] has a gun," Snyder explained, remembering the difficult process of transforming his dark, R-rated film into a trailer for the masses. "So the MPAA said, 'Look you can't have him [holding the gun]' … I don't even think it's one second. I think it's like 12 frames. He's pointing the gun at the camera, and they said, 'You can't do that.'"
For years, the MPAA has prohibited weapons from being pointed at the "viewer" in advertising, presumably for fear that it will freak them out. That's why you always see guns pointed at angles on movie posters and in film trailers.
"So we erased the gun," Snyder grinned. "And put a walkie-talkie in his hand."
As many film geeks remember -- and are still angry about -- Steven Spielberg famously re-released his family classic "E.T." in 2002 after using CGI to transform the gun-wielding federal agents into less-threatening agents holding walkie-talkies.
"It was a total Spielberg reference," laughed Snyder. "Because I was like, 'Well, it worked for Spielberg, so we should do that. Just put a walkie-talkie in his hand!' ... [The editors] were like, 'But then you cut to a real gun!' but I'm like, 'No one will ever see that; they'll think he had a gun in the other shot, so it's fine.'"
Take a close look and you'll see the two shots at 1:30 in. The first shows a walkie-talkie, and then we see the gun.
"I was thinking about it afterwards, and I was like, "Damn, we should have given him a bouquet of flowers, or a box of candy," Snyder laughed. "Maybe next time."
The trailer screens tonight at the beginning of "The Dark Knight" and is available online at Apple.com. Plus stay tuned to MTV.com, as we'll have an official HD version up soon.
What do you think of the first-ever "Watchmen" trailer? Can you find any other Easter eggs?