I first read The Watchmen a while ago. I enjoyed it because its vision was so starkly different, so cynical and much more rich, compared to everything I’d thought about or come across in super hero stories before. [SPOILER ALERT: I’ll be talking plot points (including final exposition) below]. And just recently, as part of my ‘I’m sick’ TV marathon, I just finished watching the movie.
There’s a lot that’s been written about The Watchmen; the philosophies of the characters, the view of the world inherent in it, and the politics. I looked around a little for a political examination of The Watchmen, but couldn’t quite find one that I thought did it justice (let me know if you’ve seen one?). So I’ll just say this – I think by virtue of being a richer, deeper super hero story, particularly one examining an alternative universe where the US wins the Vietnam War and Nixon has a third term, it is inherently at some level political.
I thought one interesting comment was that Dr Manhattan is in some ways an apt metaphor for the bomb, or for early bombing; a vision of a world in which the US used nuclear weapons in Vietnam.
It was the politics particularly that I found fascinating; I think the contrast between the Comedian and Rorscharch’s vision of humanity as cruel, competitive and selfish (to be fair, many humans are), and the crumbling optimism of the Nite Owl.
The movie adaptation seemed reasonable, as far as it went. I don’t think it added more, given how rich the graphic novel was, but I think it managed to carry across some of the key ideas, the sense of the world of The Watchmen, which isn’t necessarily a small accomplishment.
It’s a graphically violent movie, and one I wouldn’t recommend for kids – but if you’re after a great graphic novel, The Watchmen is outstanding, and the movie isn’t bad either.