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The Watchmen Movie

Updated on September 3, 2009

The main superheroes of the Watchmen

Left to right from top row: Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian, the Silk Spectre, Ozzymandias, Captain Metropolis, Night Owl, Rorshach
Left to right from top row: Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian, the Silk Spectre, Ozzymandias, Captain Metropolis, Night Owl, Rorshach

The highly-anticipated Watchmen movie, out March 6, 2009, is based on the 12-issue 1986 comic book by Alan Moore, who also wrote V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. It is the only comic book to be named as one of TIME magazines top 100 novels of all time, and has won numerous awards and praise from both within and outside of the comic book industry.

A bleak and grim story, the comic follows a group of costumed "superheroes" (none have any actual superpowers, save one) who fought crime until vigilante justice was outlawed by the government. The comic alternates between character development and back stories, and a plot that involves tracking down a possible "mask killer," i.e., someone is killing the superheroes off.

The Official Watchmen Trailer #1

The Comedian

The Comedian as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan
The Comedian as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan


Rorschach as played by Jackie Earle Haley
Rorschach as played by Jackie Earle Haley

The humanness of the heroes-their relationships, their fears, and their feelings about their crime-fighting days is a crux of the book, and the dark back drop of an alternate America, one that won the Vietnam War thanks to Dr. Manhattan, who does possess enormous superpower, where Nixon is still in the presidency and nuclear war with Russia is looming, create a complete and fully realized world.

Alan Moore has said he wanted this book to be the "Moby Dick" of comic books-multi-layered and necessitating multiple readings to fully realize the depth and scope. He wanted to do something that couldn't be done by either movies or literature, and accomplished this. The amount of detail in the artwork requires careful reading, and the panels are full of clever reference of dialogue onto various scenes. There is an inset story, read by a teenager at a newsstand throughout, which acts as both subtext and metaphor to the main plot, including panels from that comic. There are primary documents at the end of every book that deepen the plot and characters, and more fully create this alternate world.

There has been a lot of controversy over the movie. Rights were sold in the late 1980s. Terry Gilliam was going to direct. When he spoke with Alan Moore, asking how Moore would make the movie, Moore responded, "I wouldn't." Gilliam eventually dropped out of the project.

Silk Spectre II

Silk Spectre II played by Carla Gugino
Silk Spectre II played by Carla Gugino

The Watchmen

The Watchmen movie has now been directed by Zack Snyder, of the phenomenal remake of the classic Dawn of the Dead, and of the abysmal 300, based on the Frank Miller comic book, which while visually stunning, has been called racist, homophobic, and, well, quite boring. Snyder reportedly has tried to remain true to the comic, even taking advice from Dave Gibbons, the illustrator.

In a viewing of the trailer, fans of the comic book will be able to pick out specific scenes from the comic book-Dr. Manhattan's creation, Ms. Jupiter's entrance into a burning building, Rorshach's makeshift torch against the police, the riots against the vigilantes, and the Comedian in Vietnam with his trademark happy face pin. Fans are agog-on Rotten Tomatoes, one fan has even written a frame-by-frame breakdown. Many of the scenes look panel-for-panel like the comic book, but Alan Moore still insists that he will not see the movie, and has refused any royalties, directing them all to illustrator Gibbons.

There is simply no way the Watchmen as a comic book can translate to the screen; Moore successfully created a story that can only work in the medium of comics, and his protests (especially after the butchering of V for Vendetta) are valid. However, it is possible that the movie could capture the spirit of the book, though this may not be enough to satisfy fans. Stay tuned as more trailers are released by Warner Bros.-no group is more adamant, loyal, or passionate than comic book fans (who know every detail of their favorite heroes lives and works), and this is THE comic book.


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    • profile image

      Roxann 7 years ago

      I'm 15 I've read the book and I'm a fan

    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 8 years ago from San Francisco


      Yes, it is a dark, disturbing comic, and I think the movie keeps that basic feeling--not one for the kids for sure!


      Thanks for the catch--I have corrected.


    • Schwag profile image

      Schwag 8 years ago from Clarksville, TN

      jonaitis - Your Silk Spectre picture is incorrectly captioned. That is a picture of the younger one.

    • profile image

      Mailman 8 years ago

      Saw the movie, and couldn't believe all the under-age kids in line to see this movie and some with their Parents, hope the word gets out, this Movie is NOT like other Super Hero movies, and unless you've read the book, you won't have a clue what your walking into, this is NOT "Spiderman" it is dark, it is graphic violence, Male frontal nudity, a scene where one of the Females is getting beat up by a man(Men take notes on how Not to behave), all this while I was sittting in between two minor teens who kept covering their eyes with all of those disturbing scene that only belong on the pages of a comic book, I agree with Alan Moore, some things are better in fantasy land, illustrated!