Have you been watching the new Watchmen series on HBO? It’s one of the biggest hits this year. I have to admit I wasn’t really sure it would work. I am actually one of maybe six people in the world who actually liked the 2009 movie. In my opinion, it was simply bad timing that it wasn’t hailed as the best superhero film of its time. I’ve already written a little bit about the filmmaking arc of Zack Snyder, if you care for a longform piece.
What there is to like about today’s TV series
Watchmen, the 2019 HBO series, takes the universe to a whole new level while carefully referencing things from the source material. It seems to be more closely based on the original comic, and doesn’t reference the controversial (changed) ending of the movie. It brings some of the original characters into an alternate 2019 in a way that makes sense. Best of all it works independently if you don’t want to delve into the mythos. You can enjoy it even if you’ve never heard of Silk Spectre or thought of voting for Nixon in the 1980s.
It makes the 2009 movie better
But maybe what I enjoy most about the new series is that it’s rekindling interest in the movie. As I said I’m one of the few people who really liked it.
I’m particularly fond of the opening credits, which I think are some of the best filmmaking of the decade. They are so packed with backstory that you could spend hours just referencing them:
The ’09 movie plays as a prequel to today’s series. You see Adrian Veidt at the top of his game, watch Laurie learn the truth about her father, and understand why Dr. Manhattan leaves the planet. If you haven’t watched it yet, seek it out. It’s available to rent on most services and is free if you subscribe to DC Universe.
For those who have already seen the film
Let’s say you made room in your heart for the 2009 film and you’ve started your road to really understanding the impact that Watchmen as a whole has had on pop culture. You’ll enjoy this short video, “25 Things You Missed In Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009)”:
This really goes to show the level of detail in this film and I think it adds to the enjoyment of the TV series as well by helping the reader become more immersed in the entire Watchmen universe.
Themes to look out for
Whether you’re watching the film, reading the original graphic novel or its sequels, or watching the TV series, you can’t help but be impressed by the way this whole universe uses superheroes to comment on the ideas of being powerful, of fame, and most of all in the way that we are all influenced by events so far in our pasts that they are barely remembered. Watchmen, once a daring stunt in the comic book world, has become high art. That, even in itself, is a commentary that’s probably a little too pithy for this little home theater blog.