March 6, 2009
Imagining the deaths of people still living
In director Zack Snyder's "Watchmen," historical figures are depicted as existing in an alternate reality in which we won Vietnam, Richard Nixon was elected for five terms, and superheroes walk amongst us. And as much as I personally loved the movie, I'm also a huge film buff - so when I saw a very-alive American icon getting murdered 24 years ago on screen, I found myself struggling to comprehend the "Why?" "How?" and "Has this ever been done before?" of what was unfolding before my eyes.To answer Carroll's question, yes, this sort of thing has been done at least once before -- and at feature length, too, rather than just a cameo. I refer to Death of a President (2006), a pseudo-documentary that used archival footage and a few special effects to depict the assassination of George W. Bush.
"It's nothing against Lee; I think Lee's awesome," Snyder told me when I asked him about the scene, in which an actor playing Iacocca meets with superhero industrialist Ozymandias, only to be caught in the crossfire as an assassin tries to kill the crimefighting CEO. "But he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The fact of the matter, however, is that the former Chrysler CEO and Ford President never met the fictional Adrian Veidt - and when I reached out to Iacocca for comment, he wasn't exactly thrilled about the details of his big-screen debut.
A spokesman confirmed that Iacocca had never heard of "Watchmen" until I called. The news of his depiction came as a surprise, and his office confirmed that they had never been approached by Snyder, Warner Brothers, or anyone else associated with the film - either to ask permission or to simply give him a heads-up.When I explained that Iacocca is shown on-screen being shot between the eyes and killed, the phone went quiet for what felt like forever. The automotive pioneer's office has since attempted to contact the studio to secure a screening, DVD or even an explanation, but as of press time had yet to receive a return phone call.
I can't think of any other examples right now, though.