Reinterpretations of pre-existing intellectual property have always had their place. Love them or hate them, they’re what happens when creators take their toys and create new stories. Reboots are met with shame because they’re usually cash grabs mining for nostalgia. I’m not against updated stories as long as they’re done tastefully. (Here’s to you, Blade Runner 2049).
Just like everyone else, I have my few coveted properties that should remain untouched.
Last Action Hero.
Charmed (I’m serious about this one).
Finally, The Watchmen. Once given the label of being impossible to adapt, Zack Snyder took a chance in 2009 and did fairly well. Though an acquired taste at the time, it has garnered more praise over time. I have very strong opinions about Snyder but his adaptation was not only a valiant effort but it will end up being his masterpiece. I’m perfectly fine with leaving this story where it is.
Enter Damon Lindelof, creator of that Lost finale you hated so much and that really weird Aliens prequel. News broke about his Watchmen series for HBO after his cryptic Instagram post featuring Nite Owl’s statue. Although I’m a huge fan of his recent outing, The Leftovers, the news did give me pause. Another Watchmen series? Would this be a continuation of the movie? A reimagining of the source material?
After reading his lengthy letter to fans, I’m quite ok with the idea of the TV show. Lindelof, much like other fans of the original series, is well aware of Alan Moore’s desire to not have his creation adapted. Watchmen won’t be an adaptation. The events happened as is: Veidt unites the world with a bomb or giant sea monster, pick your poison, Rorschach is still dead (unless you’re reading Doomsday Clock) and Nite Owl & Silk Spectre live happily ever after. Lindelof calls the original story the Old Testament to his New Testament which interests me far more than another adaptation.
The world of the Watchmen was already interesting. In this world, heroes either have had “retirement” forced upon them or they’ve lived long enough to see all of their companions pass away. They’re all wretched souls living with their past and that past catches up to them. The backdrop to this chaotic story is an alternate version of 1980s United States. The Doomsday Clock has been set five minutes to midnight meaning annihilation is imminent. The Watchmen felt timely then and it can have that same feeling now. Real life events are pouring into various forms of media, so this isn’t anything new, but it would be really interesting to revisit that world since it feels like we’re once again five minutes from midnight. Even on a smaller scale, it would be interesting to revisit this world because of the amazing characters. Where’s the big blue fella? What is Adrian Veidt up to these days? What would older heroes be doing now? How are they fitting into society? Are they mentoring a new generation of heroes?
A new Watchmen series has plenty of questions to ask and Lindelof is the right person to ask them. With shows such as Lost and The Leftovers, he often answered one question by making the audience ask two more questions. His work always wears a veil of mystery and he’s never in a rush to reveal secrets. I see a Watchmen show going in a lot of different directions. A show within a show that asks philosophical questions about control, fate, and life.
Even if you don’t trust Lindelof (I understand), this show has an excellent cast. Character details are being kept under wraps, but the cast so far is Regina King, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett, Jr., Tim Blake Nelson and Adelaide Clemens.
I might be trying to convince myself as much as I’m trying to convince you, but I think this Watchmen series will be fine. If nothing else, I’ve realized Damon Lindelof cares about the source material as much as everyone else. I think this show will be treated with care. It’s a world that has plenty story to explore and I’m pretty excited to explore it.
So are you in or out on Watchmen?