What can we expect from HBO’s Watchmen?

The trailer for HBO’s new series Watchmen, based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, was released yesterday:

The series takes places after the events of the comic, as fans were told via writer Damon Lindelof’s Instagram. If you have yet to read the Watchmen comic or watch Zack Snyder’s film adaptation, I highly recommend you do so. Despite the two having different variations of the story’s climax, the HBO show is a sequel to Moore’s print version.

The Ticking Clock

The trailer centers around a ticking clock. A fitting symbol for the Watchmen property. The graphic novel had a running theme of a doomsday clock counting down to nuclear war within its pages. Zack Snyder’s 2009 iteration included television reports of scientists setting a doomsday clock at five minutes to midnight. Rorschach, one of the book’s main characters, would picket with an “End is Nigh” sign in the streets. Even DC’s Rebirth storyline, used to reboot the DC comic universe, built to a series titled Doomsday Clock that placed the Watchmen characters in the same universe as Batman, Flash and many others. So, why is this important? If you’ve read Watchmen, you are familiar with its ending in which Ozymandias orchestrates a plan to bring a giant exploding squid to New York. He builds it in a laboratory and uses it to attack the city. The idea is to make it look like some crazy and otherworldly force attacked Earth. America, Russia and any other possible threat would have to band together, essentially ending the nuclear war prospects. The movie changes it to make him frame Dr. Manhattan, but it still serves the same general plan and motivation. He helps stop the doomsday clock by setting off a time bomb of his own. Dr. Manhattan’s father was also a clock maker, so there is that.

Rorschach Revolution Cult

We see a cult-like revolution group all wearing masks similar to that of Rorschach in this trailer. This lowkey detective with serious mental issues is probably the most popular character from the story. Rorschach meets his untimely demise at the hands of Dr. Manhattan. He is killed after Ozymandias reveals he causes the explosion and that it will lead to peace. Dr. Manhattan agrees that no one can ever know the truth or it will risk the peace that has come in its wake. Rorschach, on the other hand, will not keep this secret. He leaves to presumably spread awareness fight for the people, as he often does in his own sick and twisted ways. Dr. Manhattan follows and obliterates him after some talk. This new group wearing his mask seems to be a group of people that take the Rorschach journal, published at the end of Watchmen, as their bible. In his honor, they seek retribution for his death and wish to spread awareness about the false peace created by Ozymandias.

The Black Freighter

A nod to the Black Freighter is also spotted as a pirate flag in a short clip. The Black Freighter is a shorter comic inside of the Watchmen comic. It centers around a shipwrecked pirate who survives an attack. He journeys alone, fending for himself in the hopes he will make it home to warn people of the rising threat. Along the way, he becomes insane from the intense trials he faces. I’ve best heard it described as a man driven mad by his own passion. It exists in the book to explain Ozymandias’s motives and plans in the comic as he alludes to in a line where he “dreams about swimming towards…” and stops before finishing. It is mostly used illustrate Ozymandias’s journey from savior of the people to sacrificing heroism and killing thousands of innocents in an attempt to prevent the death of millions. It was mostly cut out of the Snyder film, but later released in Watchmen: The Ultimate Edition. It doesn’t quite fit in with that version, though, being that the ending was altered. Ozymandias’s plan was to unite the countries against a higher power, but Dr. Manhattan was an America military weapon. Wouldn’t that make Russia more likely to bomb us? Who knows.

Old Man Ozymandias & Silver Mask

The only returning character we see in the trailer is an older Ozymandias, played by Jeremy Irons. He is in the his meditation pose, similar to that of Dr. Manhattan from the novel. The trailer doesn’t give much look into who else may be returning. We also see a man or woman, in a shiny silver mask, watching a bunch of screens like Ozymandias in the Watchmen movie. Presumably, this is our new villain. It could be who, exactly, is bringing this end of the world everyone is talking about. I highly doubt Ozymandias will be the film’s main antagonist. Despite his movie portrayal, he was never truly evil. He simply lacked empathy in his decision to kill a city in order to save a world. I think he may be under attack by the Rorschach group and that is how he factors in. The lady cop will probably lead the charge in finding out who leads them. I guess we will have to wait and see for this identity reveal.

Cops Vs. Vigilantes

Lastly, the trailer magnifies the police versus superheroes angle from the comic. Superheroes are outlawed, which is why the original story holds so much weight. These people come together despite it being far from the golden years of heroism. They are not accepted by society and many are in jail or asylums for their time behind the mask. Those being the ones who aren’t dead. The cops in the trailer gear up for the resurgence of “them.” I assume they are referring to the Rorschach revolution group and their vigilantism. One of the show’s main characters looks to be a female police officer played by Regina King. We can see her character suiting up in a hood and mask, fully equipped with her police badge. Maybe she’s the new Hooded Justice? A vigilante style police officer? In any case, we see gunmen, tanks firing, explosions and a crazy looking massacre at what looks like a county fair or carnival. The end of the world is coming. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Do you think there will be more Watchmen characters in the show? Do you prefer the comic or the film adaptation?

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