Watchmen and the King Philosopher
Watchmen is a 2009 superhero genre film that was directed by Zack Snyder. Set in an alternate history period during the Cold War, the film revolves around a group of now retired (from being superheroes) superheroes who are looking into the possible murder of the Comedian (Edward Blake). By this point, all forms of vigilantism (by costumed superheroes) have been outlawed while some tension between America and the Soviet seem to escalate. In the course of looking into the death of the Comedian, Rorschach, one of the superheroes and a few others speculate that someone may be trying to murder all the former costumed superheroes. Although most of the former costumed heroes remain skeptical at first, a turn of events ultimately reveals that Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) was behind Comedian's death and that he even framed Dr. Manhattan with the death of several thousand of people. However, in his defense, Ozymandias explains that his actions have resulted in world peace and an end to the cold war thereby saving millions of people from the war that would have otherwise taken place. Rorschach disagrees with the actions of Ozymandias and threatens to expose him to the world in order to prove that Dr. Manhattan is innocent of the crimes he is accused of and show that Ozymandias is the real criminal. However, before he gets a chance to do this, Dr. Manhattan kills him in order to try to maintain the peace that appears to have been agreed on by leaders of America and the Soviet Union.
Ozymandias and Rorschach
In the film, Ozymandias, who manipulates events for his desired outcome, can be said to exemplify the views of such philosophers like Plato. This is largely due to his view on what it takes to create a peaceful, functional society. Here, it is worth noting that Ozymandias is regarded as the smartest man in the world. As such, he feels that he knows the steps that need to be taken in order to make the world a peaceful place and bring all the people together for a common goal. This is also the goal of the ideas of Plato about the Philosopher King. According to Plato, it is only a philosopher King (dictator) who has the best possible ideas about what a state needs and thus should be chosen because he can benefit the state through his wisdom. Here, those who are not wise are simply expected to obey what they are told. Rorschach on the other hand can be said to exemplify Aristotle based on his views on virtue. Throughout most of the film, Rorschach takes about right and wrong with the conclusion that there can be no middle ground (gray area). For him, there are only good people and bad people and bad people have to be punished. It is for this very reason that he reasons that the actions of Ozymandias cannot go unpunished considering that he has killed many people and cause others to be punished for crimes they did not commit. When measuring the reasoning behind Ozymandias' actions and the end goal, he comes to the conclusion that there is no virtue or goodness and decides to expose him.
One of the most important philosophical concepts in the film is that of a King Philosopher. While Ozymandias may not be a political leader in the film, he considers himself to be very wise and therefore manipulates events for what he deems the best outcome possible. He is therefore similar to a dictator who demands that he be obeyed given that he knows best above anyone else. Virtue is also an important concept in the film as seen in the actions of both Ozymandias and Rorschach. While they may not be perfect, Rorschach considers his actions more virtuous given that he only seeks to protect those who are good through his courage. He is not afraid to do the right thing even when it means turning in his former partner. The utilitarian concept is also evident in the film with the actions of Ozymandias who seeks for overall happiness without considering the means used. For Ozymandias, the end goal is more important than the means. For this reason, he kills a number of people and even frames others for crimes in order to achieve his goal of world peace.
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© 2019 Patrick