I schedule my posts in advance, so I get a nice overview of what my published pieces will look like as they roll out. And I’ve got to say, I’ve been focusing a lot on the Movie/TV category lately. Sorry about that if you stick around for the book stuff or the video game stuff. People told me I should have the blog revolve around a specific thing instead of just going all over the place, but can I help it that I like movies, books, and video games almost equally?!
Anyways, today I thought I’d talk about Watchmen.
It is by far my all-time favorite graphic novel. I first read it when I was way too young for the content, and I remember purchasing the copy almost clandestinely. I don’t think my parents realized how mature comic books could be. I was around seven or eight years old when my dad handed The Sandman to me (which he had received from a friend who did not know my dad wasn’t into comics). And that graphic novel contains some of the most rated-R scenes I’ve ever seen. People stabbed their own eyes out, engaged in a sexual romp with more than four people participating, and admitted to necrophilia, all in one issue.
Anyways, Watchmen appealed to me for multiple reasons, not just because it felt like forbidden fruit. Even at a young age, I could tell that this story was game-changing. It deconstructed super hero tropes while simultaneously telling a gripping tale about the kinds of psyches that would have to participate in such caped crusades.
Side note: I wrote my college thesis on Watchmen’s deconstruction of these tropes and how it features multiple binary oppositions to do so.
When the Zack Snyder film came out in 2009, it was me and six other guys in the theater for the midnight premiere. It was the least-packed premiere I’ve ever particpated in, but you’ve got to appreciate the one man who came into the theater with a “The End Is Nigh” sign.
I enjoyed the movie, but my enjoyment largely came from the fact that the film was practically a frame-by-frame reconstruction of the graphic novel (with a few massive changes due to moviegoer considerations). This movie tiptoed around the original source material, a copy too afraid to alter what wasn’t broken.
In 2019, HBO released a TV series based on the graphic novel as well. It was not a recreation of the story like the 2009 film, but instead would be a continuation of the story, set in the same universe as the events of the comic. When I first heard about it, I was steeped in doubt, yet excitement still brewed within me.
And I’m happy to report that the HBO series exceeded my expectations, doing Watchmen, and what it set out to accomplish, proud.
Written by Damon Lindelof, this new series clearly grasps what Alan Moore did with the original work. Lindelof understands the spirit of Watchmen, perhaps more fully than Snyder. Lindelof took bold risks with the direction of the story, but these risks paid off because instead of telling yet another kick-ass superhero tale, he used the plot to deconstruct these tropes, along with several societal evils.
The original Watchmen spent just as much time pulling the curtain down on superheroes as it did exposing societal mores that are no longer relevant (or are too widely accepted despite being an ill that plagues human connection). Alan Moore focused on the terrors of Reaganism and the fallacies of that era. The HBO series centralizes on a more current cultural context, focusing on racial violence. It exposes this societal evil that still plagues the world today, and leaves viewers with a message that is not easily forgotten by the time the final episode concludes.
Now, this isn’t going to be a show I summarize or spoil. I’ve noticed a pattern in my posts; if I truly love a movie beyond just a normal appreciation, I’m more reluctant to detail the plot as I want you to watch it with fresh eyes.
So the most I want to tell you guys about the HBO Watchmen series is that there was nothing I didn’t like about it. I am almost inexpressibly pleased with it.
I think it’s a shame (an understandable one, but a shame nonetheless) that Alan Moore no longer expresses an interest in adaptations of his work. He has been burned many times by people butchering his graphic novels, turning complex and challenging stories into flashy pop fiction. But Lindelof has shown that he knows what made the original Watchmen tick.
I rate HBO’s Watchmen a jaw-dropping-series-that-captured-everything-I-loved-about-the-original-graphic-novel-and-turned-it-into-a-telling-deconstruction-of-our-times-that-will-stay-with-me-forever.