Watchmen is one of the most indelible examples of graphic novels–come on, comic books–as an art form ever made. Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ dystopian tale of superheroes on the brink of world destruction is held up as a pillar of the medium. It was required reading in a literature class I took in college. Zack Snyder’s 2009 film is a near panel-for-panel recreation. Did we need another version of the story? The first teaser for HBO’s upcoming Watchmen series has landed, and it’s definitely not the story we know.
When we learned The Leftovers and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof would bring Watchmen to HBO, we should probably have guessed it would be a bit different. HBO’s official statement of the series says it “embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own.” An understatement.
Some of it bears a resemblance to the book. We see people wearing the distinctive black-splotch mask of Rorschach, though there are quite a lot of people wearing them. This appears to take place long after the events of the book, perhaps. So all of these people could be fighting in Rorschach’s demented memory. It would also appear there’s a task force of police officers hunting the outlawed vigilantes. They all sport yellow bandit hats. Regina King plays a character named Angela Abar. From the looks of the teaser, and an image accompanying it, she might blur the line between cop and vigilante.
The only character from the book we know for sure appears is Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias. He’s played by Jeremy Irons, in a very good piece of casting. A quick scroll through the IMDb cast list only finds credits for “Rorschach guard” and “Young Jon Osterman.” Jon is, of course, Dr. Manhattan, the blue, naked omnipotent science experiment gone wrong. No actor is adult Jon Osterman, though.
Other cast members include Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, and James Wolk.
I’ve long thought we didn’t need a new adaptation of Watchmen. But a reimagining of its themes and ideas for a modern audience, especially one that knows the book backwards and forwards, is a great idea. Watchmen will premiere in the fall of 2019. Tick tock, tick tock.