Beam Me Up, Scotty!: According to many people online, one of Rorschach's most iconic quotes is "I wish all the scum of the Earth had one throat and I had my hands around it." Except that line of dialogue, or anything remotely similar to it, never appears in any version of the movie or comic. It's a great line and totally in character for Rorschach, but it's not from Watchmen and nobody is quite sure how it came to be connected with the character or the work itself.
The quote sounds like a attested quote from the Emperor Caligula: "Would that the Roman people had but one neck!" It may be that the telephone game got into play (and since the sentiment is very Rorschachian, somehow got stuck to the character).
An almost identical quote was spoken by serial killer Carl Panzram, saying "I wish that you all had one neck and that I had my hands on it." While it would make complete sense for Alan Moore to have drawn inspiration from Panzram for Rorschach, whether he consciously did so is unknown.
The quote can be found on one of the promo posters that was released to advertise the upcoming series. It reads as follows: "You know what I wish? I wish all of the scum of the Earth had one throat and I had my hands about it." Rorschach (1975).
On a similar note, Dr. Manhattan's line "I am tired of Earth, of these people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives" is often misquoted as "I am tired of this world, of these people", probably because the latter sounds more nonspecific and poetic.
Newbie Boom: With the announcement of the Watchmen film, people swarmed to read the original graphic novel which swelled the fanbase to massive size. That was until some realized what type of story Alan Moore was telling.
Public Medium Ignorance: Watchmen is frequently called a "graphic novel". However, it was originally published from 1986-1987 as a twelve issue standard comic book limited series. But immediately after the end of the limited series, it was compiled into what is more properly called a "trade paperback" (being among the very first comic book limited series to receive this treatment; Batman: The Dark Knight Returns also gets this misconception) and it is in this sole format that Watchmen is still published to this very day.
Theater attendance even took a hit when some people found that this film (based on a comic book previously not well known outside of hardcore comic book fandom) that looks like a cool superhero story was mostly deconstructing the medium.
Reality Subtext: The sudden surge of superheroes during World War II, decline in the late 40s and 50s, and resurgence in the 60s was meant to reflect the fluctuating popularity of superhero comic books during the 20th century.
Ascended Fanon: The fate of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis has been a source of speculation owing to a couple resembling the two appearing on panel (and in focus) after their supposed demises. Dave Gibbons stated it wasn't intentional, but was far too good of a theory to refute.
Creator's Favorite: When designing the characters, Dave Gibbons said Rorschach was his favorite to draw due to his relatively simpler features. He described:
If I had a favorite character to draw, ... the one that I'll draw is Rorschach. Basically, you just have to draw a hat. If you can draw a hat, then you've drawn Rorschach, you just draw kind of a shape for his face and put some black blobs on it and you're done. So he's a favorite to draw in that circumstance.
Disowned Adaptation: Alan Moore does not like the idea of the Before Watchmen comics, and refused to read them or Doomsday Clock, and has abstained from watching the film adaptation or the HBO series. Dave Gibbons, on the other hand, was more open to the idea of prequels, even wishing the new team of writers and artists well; however, he insists that to him, these aren't canon at all, but merely derivative work. Gibbons also states that he is utterly indifferent toDoomsday Clock and that he categorically will not read them and that the interviewer should consider himself lucky that he got more than a "no comment" out of him. He also has a consulting credit on the show and drew the cover on a decorative Bible given to young Jon Osterman as a gift.
The endless subtle hints and foreshadowing, or minor connections within the Chekhov's Army that one can find during the second read through can not be a coincidence. There are also the very detailed instructions Moore gave to the artist.
Chapter 5 is palindromic both in shape, dominant colors and focus characters note Rorschach/Detectives/News Stand/Black Freighter/Dan and Laurie/Ozymandias/Dan and Laurie/Black Freighter/News Stand/Detectives/Rorschach. It's impossible to notice until someone mentions it. And then you realize the significance of the final words of the chapter: "Everything balances."
Steve Ditko was a major inspiration for both Moore and Dave Gibbons. The characters are derivatives of Ditko's Charlton creations, while Rorschach was intended as a Deconstruction of Mr. A. Both Moore and Gibbons also took inspiration from Ditko's eye for character creation to create figures who were iconic and recognizable even if they were one-shot characters. Gibbons also cited Ditko's art on his run of Spider-Man as a major inspiration, especially for its blend of real places with the bizarre and fantastic as well as his use of the 9 Panel Grid.
Rorschach's original costume was a form-fitting white full-body leotard with his inkblot patterns all over it. Later they threw the hat and coat on him to better resemble the Question (which had the unfortunate effect of making him look like a tattooed albino flasher) and finally dressed him up completely, leaving only the mask with the inkblots.
The story was originally meant to star the heroes of the now-forgotten MLJ Comics stable, but when Moore realized he didn't have the rights to MLJ (MLJ's successor Archie Comics did; ironically, they would later license the MLJ heroes to DC for a period), he turned to Charlton Comics that DC Comics had recently bought —Captain Atom, the Blue Beetle, The Question, etc — but Alan Moore's story didn't mesh with DC's plans to integrate them into the revamped DCU that would follow Crisis on Infinite Earths, so he created a bunch of Alternate Company Equivalent that are now arguably more famous than the characters who inspired them.
One source say it would have taken place on Earth-Four if the Charlton characters were used.
At the time they were promoting Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons discussed a potential prequel idea around the Minutemen days, albeit insisting they weren't interested in any sequel of the comic, nor were they interested in other ideas floated to them by DC (such as comics focused on the Comedian in the Vietnam). Moore later said that had DC not stiffed him and Dave Gibbons, he might have eventually come around to work on Minutemen, which in any case would have been highly different from the series put out in Before Watchmen decades later.
Rorschach was apparently meant to survive at one point, but Alan Moore claimed that as he fleshed out the story, he came to the realization that Rorschach had no chance of making it through to the end.
Approval of God: Dave Gibbons had some interaction with the cast and crew, and was very impressed with the level of detail to the sets, sometimes not realizing a particular detail was taken directly from his art.
The Times (UK) captioned a photo of Silk Spectre II "Sally Jupiter", rather than her daughter, Laurie.
Web videos from ComiCon - ComicCon for the love of cake - claimed that Carla Gugino and Malin Åkerman were playing the first and second "Silk Sceptre", though this could just be a typo.
Ironically, the "Crimebusters" super-group convened by Ozy and Captain Metropolis was renamed "The Watchmen" for the purposes of this film, creating an inverse situation.
Darkhorse Casting: Except for Patrick Wilson, None of the actors who played the main characters were huge stars at the time of the film's release. Arguably the two biggest names (Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had primarily gotten work as a child star and in parts on TV, respectively.
Disowned Adaptation: As part of his continuing vendetta with DC Comics, Moore put a hex on the film, literally. It worked as well as hexes ever do, though Moore reportedly did enjoy gloating over the film's box-office failure.
Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Greengrass, and David Hayter were all attached to direct the movie at various points of production. Gilliam had a screenplay written by Sam Hamm (writer of Tim Burton's Batman) to work with, while the others had one by Hayter himself. Much like the final film and more so than Hamm's, Hayter's treatment was pretty faithful, more prone to simplifying or cutting things out rather than changing them. However, it was set in the then-present day (2005), Laurie's alias was changed to "Slingshot" (Dr. Manhattan gives her the power to shoot energy balls), and the ending is changed even further than it was for the final film. The squid is also replaced, this time by a solar energy beam. More importantly, Nite Owl changes his mind about compromising and (barely) defeats and kills Ozymandias, since "that's what Rorschach would've done.". Well, having worked on Metal Gear really makes your mind go places. Though, according to Hayter, he actually managed to get the approval of Alan Moore concerning his version of the screenplay.
Sam Hamm's draft changes the ending even more, as instead of attacking New York at all, Ozymandias opens a wormhole back in time and uses it to kill Jon Osterman before he becomes Dr. Manhattan. This somehow has the effect of dumping the main characters into our world, and turning their timeline into a comic book. There's a reason that the fandom talks about the early screenplays not in terms of "It could have been", but in terms of "At least it wasn't."
Ozymandias' storyline ended in death in a lot of the earlier scripts, as a way of not letting him get away with his actions:
Sam Hamm version: Ozymandias is vaporized, leaving only a pair of boots behind.
David Hayter version: Nite-Owl stabs and kills him with his "owlrang".
Alex Tse version: Ozymandias is crushed by Nite-Owl's ship and bleeds to death. His body is then set aflame by the ship's afterburners as it leaves Karnak.
According to screenwriterDavid Hayter, the film's different ending from the graphic novel where Ozymandias frames Dr. Manhattan by blowing up New York with their machine's energy, instead of building a "squid" monster that destroys the city and appears to be an attack by aliens came about because Hayter signed his contract with Universal the day after 9/11; Fearing that mirroring the recent massacre in film would be too painful, he rewrote the ending to instead mirror the more distant bombing of Hiroshima.
Word of Saint Paul: While the original text says Adrian Veidt gave up his family's fortune at an early age to prove he didn't need it to achieve greatness, Matthew Goode has speculated on the details of his character's past, where he grew up, and, specifically, his giving away the money being motivated by his family having been Nazis.
Writer Revolt: The executives wanted a steamy sex scene. Zack Snyder and crew placated by accentuating it with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
Viral Marketing: Veidt Enterprises had the products - Nostalgia and The Veidt Method - appear. Keene Act informational movies are throughout.