Entertainment Weekly reports on the behind-the-scenes struggles over whether or not a 21st century audience will be in sync with the 1980s setting and Cold War themes of Watchmen:
In 2005, [Paul[ Greengrass was deep into preproduction on a present-day, war-on-terror-themed adaptation by David Hayter (X-Men), when a regime change at Paramount Pictures led to its demise. Enter Warner Bros., which acquired the rights in late 2005. Snyder was working on 300 for the studio at the time, and he was alarmed when he heard about the deal. After some soul-searching, his fear of seeing a bad Watchmen movie trumped his fear of trying to make a great one. ”They were going to do it anyway,” he says. ”And that made me nervous.” Over many months, and many meetings, Snyder persuaded Warner Bros. to abandon the Greengrass/Hayter script and hew as faithfully as possible to the comic. The key battles: retaining the ’80s milieu, keeping Richard Nixon (Moore did consider using an era-appropriate Ronald Reagan, but worried it would alienate American readers), and preserving the villain-doesn’t-pay-for-his-crimes climax. ”It was clear that Zack felt an intense obligation to the fans and the book,” says Warner Bros. Picture Group president Jeff Robinov. ”There was definitely a conversation about the best way to make it contemporary and relevant to today. Zack felt the best way was to go back to the roots of the novel.”
Of course now with the conflict in the Caucuses, Cold War themes seem relevant again — problem solved. Could Warner Bros. be manipulating the entire situation, using Georgia and Russia as pawns to advance its own nefarious agenda? Only on blogs can this sort of irresponsible speculation be meaningfully advanced.