Now that “Game of Thrones” is in HBO’s rear-view mirror, the cable network is about to leap into the comic-book world, taking on the Herculean task of adapting one of the most revered properties in pop culture history: Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.”
DC Comics published the graphic novel, which was written by Moore, along with artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins, in 1986.
The comic was set in an alternate 1985 at the height of the Cold War, where Richard Nixon is still president and costumed heroes roam the streets. In this world, superheroes have been around since the 1940s but have either been outlawed or under government control. The story revolves around a group of mostly retired American superheroes who investigate the murder of one of their own, only to uncover a conspiracy.
Damon Lindelof, co-creator of “Lost” and “The Leftovers,” is spearheading the series for HBO. Lindelof is re-teaming with fellow “Lost” alum, director Stephen Williams. While the network has been mostly mum on any specifics of the series, TheWrap has compiled below the few bits of information we know:
1. We have a (brief) description
Per HBO, the series is “Set in an alternate history where ‘superheroes’ are treated as outlaws, ‘Watchmen,’ embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.”
2. Lindelof considers it a “remix” vs. a sequel
In May of last year, Lindelof took to Instagram to share his early ideas for his take, explaining that the HBO series won’t be an adaptation or a sequel, but a “remix.”
“We have no desire to ‘adapt’ the 12 issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created 30 years ago,” wrote Lindelof, in a five-page letter he shared on Instagram. “Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted. They will, however, be remixed.” Lindelof described the original 1986 comic as “our Old Testament” and likened his HBO series to when the New Testament came along. “It did not erase what came before it… To be clear. ‘Watchmen’ is canon.”
So, then, is his version of “Watchmen” a sequel? Not quite. “But we are not making a ‘sequel’ either,” he continued. “This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built… but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original.”
3. We (think) we know how it ties into the events of Moore’s original story
While Lindelof was adamant that his “Watchmen” is not a straight sequel to comics, the present-day setting means it’s set after the comics’ events.
While it has not been confirmed by HBO — the network has kept all character details in a vault — it’s been reported that Jeremy Irons is playing an older version of Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias. In the comics, Veidt concocts a plan to fake an alien invasion, which will wipe out half of humanity, but force the world to come together and put aside their differences to battle a common enemy. In short: He ends up getting away with it, as Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre agree to keep quiet in order to preserve the fragile world peace. Only Rorschach, a moral absolutist, threatens to expose Veidt and essentially forces Dr. Manhattan to kill him. But, he’s able to mail his journal, which describes Veidt’s plan in full, to a newspaper before his death.
Although it’s left ambiguous as to if the newspaper does anything with Rorschach’s journal, the first teaser that HBO released (and in the photo above) appears to show that Rorschach has gained a bit of cult following after his death, with numerous people sporting his famous ink-blot mask.
And if that wasn’t cryptic enough: The tagline for the HBO series — “Nothing Ever Ends” — is the same thing that Dr. Manhattan said to Veidt after he asks if they all did the right thing.
4. It will have nothing to do with Zack Snyder’s 2009 film
Snyder’s film adaptation was more of a straight retelling of the graphic novel series, though he made a few tweaks to Moore’s 12-issue story in order to fit it into one movie. Even so, the movie’s three-hour (and counting for the director’s cut) run time still felt bloated. Moore was famously against seeing his work being adapted into a feature film. He may have been right: It’s simply too much plot to fit into a single movie, despite Snyder’s best efforts to include everything.
Snyder’s tweaks, which included a minor change to Ozymandias’ plan at the end, don’t figure to be represented in the HBO series.
5. We know when(-ish) it will air
It will premiere in the fall, we just don’t know exactly when.
6. We know who is in it
HBO has filled out an impressive and expansive cast list. Along with Irons, “Watchmen” is led by Regina King, Jean Smart and Don Johnson. The cast also includes Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith and Adelynn Spoon.
7. A familiar face will compose the music
Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are composing the score for the series.
Reznor has worked with Ross on numerous film scores, mostly with David Fincher. The duo won the Oscar for Best Original Score for “The Social Network” in 2010, and also scored Fincher’s 2011 remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the director’s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” Ross joined Nine Inch Nails in 2016.
8. We have a trailer
Which you should watch, right here!