Any time a story from another medium becomes a movie, there are some changes. Yet every time, fans of the original harp over every little detail that may be altered. "300" director Zack Snyder respects that, and may have made one of the closest graphic novel adaptations ever.
"I would say it’s probably about 90 percent the book," he said. "There’s maybe a 10 percent bit that I added that’s sort of the queen’s story line. We did that to really initially remind people of the why we fight part of it. You get all the way up there to Thermopylae and suddenly Sparta becomes abstract. I wanted to remind people. Once we got into that, we started to realize that we had to figure out what the queen was about. There’s a line in the graphic novel where Gorgo says, ‘Come back with your shield or on it,’ which was attributed to her in history. In my research I found another thing, ‘Only Spartan women give birth to real men.’ That was another line I found attributed to her. If you combined those two, what kind of character is that? Who is that woman who said those things? That’s really what we used to sort of build her and flesh her out."
So really, you’re getting more in the "300" movie, as all the Spartan battle scenes are still represented. Shot on blue screens with environments created digitally, Snyder employed technology to represent Frank Miller, not the Zack Snyder experience.
"Even when you try to get out of the way of something, you’re like a filter. You can’t help it because it goes through you and when it comes out the other side, it’s got people in it and there’s all sorts of stuff that happens so I really wasn’t worried about it. The thing I love about a movie is its tone. That’s my favorite part of movies, the tone of the movie. What is it? What kind of a movie is it? I wanted to make a movie that felt like the graphic novel but the characters stood and they looked and they talked like the graphic novel and that you felt the graphic novel. That was the most important thing to me because I felt like the story was there was sort of the heroic nature of the film. But, the tone of it, the where it came from, I wanted you to feel it. So in that way, I used the graphic novel as a thing that informed the tone of the movie. That’s my favorite thing about the movie is that I feel that."
Miller, being the curmudgeon-y artist, had to be won over. "He was hesitant. I don’t think he thought that anyone would ever try to make a movie out of ‘300.’ When I’ve been with him and we’ve talked about it in these kinds of scenarios, he always seems to me to be very surprised that we picked it. It’s almost like a passion project for him. If you look at it in relation to his other work, it’s an anomaly in a lot of ways. I think in the graphic novel world, it is an anomaly. It sort of exists outside the realm. The one thing that is consistent is who Leonidas is. Leonidas is Marv or he’s Batman. He’s the same guy. Frank likes that guy. He writes him a lot. I think his chance to have Leonidas march up to Thermopylae and fight like a madman and then die, that’s the thing he just likes."