Zach Snyder by Barry King/
Heading across the San Diego convention center to the Watchmen panel more than an hour before kick off, this editor thought she'd get a front-row seat and lots of time to catch up on her Comic-Con literature. She was wrong.

Filing into the massive auditorium, which was already almost full, Watchmen fever was heating up. While expectations for the dark, mid-1980s comic movie are already mile-high, it became clear that the director, cast and illustrator knew what they were up against. Here are some of the highlights of how director Zach Snyder and co. fared in the face of serious fans:

" Snyder was clear from the get-go that he approached the film with care. He was so concerned with how the film turned out, that he admitted to feeling responsible for it - whether he made it or not. The movie, he said, was "a labor of love," and to the delight of the audience, he was "trying to get as much of the graphic novel into the movie."

" Dave Gibbons (the original comic's illustrator) seemed beside himself with pleasure about being a part of the movie. He finally acknowledged, however, the "elephant in the room" of creator Alan Moore's absence from the production and lamented the writer's lack of interest. One of the things that tickled Gibbons most was during production, when the props crew created his tag (a "G" in a square) and plastered it across the set (so keep an eye out in the movie).

" Jeffrey Dean Morgan had just gotten off a plane from Thailand, and was a little spaced out on the panel. He did, however, get the audience laughing when he said, "Every day was a challenge, but getting into costume and sticking a cigar in my mouth helped me get in the mood to kill people."

" Matthew Goode (along with Snyder) was the star of the panel. When explaining why he peppers Ozymandias' dialogue with German, launched into an expletive-laden story of his introduction to the Watchmen comic - and thus, his own character's back story.

Other highlights included the unbelievable montage of scenes that Snyder strung together and brought to show at the panel (off the hook!), as well as the dynamic between Snyder and some of the costumed audience members who took the mic to ask questions (hilarious!). While the sneak peek of more scenes was mind-blowing, it was ultimately Snyder's sense of humor when faced with caped questioners that secures his place in the pantheon of Hot Things in Hollywood.

Does Zach make your hot list? What's your take on the movie to come? If you want more material to work with, the panel isn't all: Check back for's interviews with Snyder and the Watchmen cast, coming this weekend. - Anna Dimond