Watchmen is obviously a super important and celebrated comic book, a brilliant deconstruction of the medium and the idea of superheroes themselves. Years of dark and gritty imitators have failed to live up to its genius. And the 2009 Watchmen film, which I enjoy a lot, only really works because Zack Snyder just translates the excellent source material to live-action with almost shot-for-shot style faithfulness.
But folks I just don’t know about this new HBO Watchmen show. The scope, maturity, and density of Watchmen always made more sense on premium cable than in a movie. And it’s got a great cast including Regina King as the new vigilante protagonist as well as Jeremy Irons and Jean Smart as older versions of previous Watchmen heroes Ozymandias and Silk Spectre.
But then I watch this newest trailer from San Diego Comic-Con again and I still have so many questions. Why is there a Rorschach militia? Why are there so many references to old characters without actually seeing them like this is some barely canon Netflix show in the Watchmen Cinematic Universe? “Doctor Manhattan is on Mars, you just missed him!” Why does it look like it’s all about cops?
My skepticism for HBO’s Watchmen only increases the more we hear from showrunner Damon Lindelof. As one of the people guilty of famous bad show Lost, Lindelof is already a big red flag for me. But I trust people who say The Leftovers is good so maybe he’s earned another chance. However, the more quotes come out of the Watchmen presentation at the Televisions Critics Association the worse it gets.
First, Lindelof acknowledged the famously tense relationship between the creators of Watchmen and the rights holders at DC. While illustrator Dave Gibbons plays ball author and inscrutable snake wizard Alan Moore refuses to have anything to do with adaptations of his acclaimed comics work after decades of being exploited. Lindelof initially respected Moore’s desire to not be associated with this project, but then said the real punk rock Alan Moore-esque thing to do would be to ignore that wish and do it anyway. “Fuck you.”
Obnoxious reverse psychology marketing stunt aside, the new details about the show itself also raise eyebrows. Instead of nuclear war, the show’s great contemporary existential threat is white supremacy. Accurate, but then why focus on cops? Lindelof says we’ll have to wait to find the answer. And in keeping with the alternate take on American history, this show acts as a sequel to the comic where after Richard Nixon died and Gerald Ford was defeated Robert Redford has served as president in perpetuity. Who watches the Watchmen? Who wants to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier again?
I’m willing to give the Watchmen show a shot when it premieres later this October. But right now I’m afraid that squaring off against the Justice League won’t end up being the dumbest thing DC has done with these characters. Nothing ever ends. For more on Watchmen get these nice smiley face shirts.
Published at Thu, 25 Jul 2019 20:41:01 +0000