Ten Years Of The Watchmen

“Rorschach’s journal – 2019, ten years ago I starred in one of the greatest cinematic triumphs of all time. In it the streets were extended gutters, and the gutters were full of critics, and when the drains finally scabbed over, the fans looked up and shouted save us… and Zack Snyder whispered “Yes”

A decade ago, the greatest piece of comic book fiction ever wrought was finally released on film by visual auteur Zack Snyder. His triumphant cinematic reworking of the supposedly un-filmable comic series from the eighties was hailed by the fans as a masterpiece of modern dystopian Superhero cinema, but received tepid reviews from critics (Mmmm, now this seems familiar)

(Warning: Spoilers ahoy)

w2 (1)The Watchmen limited comic series was released by DC Comics in 1986, it was a collaborative effort of three superstar British comic book creators, Writer Alan Moore, Artist Dave Gibbons and Artist/Colourist John Higgins. Moore originally posited to DC that he wanted to use their acquired Charlton Comics characters as the basis for the story (Blue Beetle, The Question, amongst others), but DC’s managing editor of the time Dick Giordano, persuaded Moore to create new characters instead, as the usage of DC’s now integrated (into the DC universe) Charlton heroes would have rendered them almost unusable in future timelines because of the direction they would have taken as a result of Moore’s suggested storyline. 

Alan Moore is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic book authors of all time, aside from Watchmen, Moore has also introduced us to V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it is Watchmen that propelled Moore to the rank of numero uno in the highly competitive comic book market

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Protagonist – Rorschach narrates throughout the movie (and original comic book – inset) with regular diary entries and monologues

Alan Moore’s writing often takes a dark and dystopian route through pre-existing tropes, subverting and twisting characters to fit into his alternate timelines. Watchmen is a satirical look at superheroes, that reflects the era it was written, be it through the politics of the time (80’s Britain was a particularly political hot-bed) or emerging trends and people’s apprehension of the future.

Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985, and follows masked vigilante Rorschach as he and other retired members of the Superteam – The Crimebusters, investigate the murder of one of their former colleagues – The Comedian. In Moore’s universe, costumed heroes first appeared in the 1940’s, and were a collection of former Police officers and disgruntled citizens who ‘masked up’ to take down an increasing number of criminals who had taken to wearing costumes to disguise themselves from recognition.

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In the early eighties with the world on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, and with an outcry by the general populace against masked vigilantes, costumed heroes were outlawed, and most faded into retirement or (in the case of the Comedian and Dr Manhattan) went to work covertly for the Government. Rorschach though continued to fight crime unsanctioned, wanted by the Police he refused to abandon his principles and castigated his former team-mates for their cowardice in the face of the costumed vigilante ban.

After the murder of The Comedian, Rorschach manages to convince former team-mates, Nite-Owl II and Silk Spectre II to come out of retirement and help investigate what he believes is a conspiracy to kill masked heroes. Moore’s take on Superheroes is not for the faint of heart, it is a mature and sometimes shocking take on a popular medium, set in a totalitarian, regressive society consumed with fear and anxiety

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Unto this premise comes visual mastermind director Zack Snyder, riding high on his successful conversion of Frank Miller’s “300” graphic novel, he set his sights on DC’s Watchmen, and in 2009 presented us with perfection in comic book to film form. His film mirrored its source material beautifully, condensing the story somewhat, but still supplying every nuance and important depth of plot that the original comic series conveyed.

His choice of actors were astonishingly close to their fictional selves, especially the casting of Jackie Earle-Haley as titular protagonist Rorschach. This film has ultimately become the cornerstone of Zack Snyder’s career, only equalled (in our humble opinion) by his take on DC’s Trinity in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which shares many similarities to Watchmen in both tone and visual style.

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Ten years on and Watchmen is now more highly regarded amongst its former critics, still loved by the fans and is one of the first ‘R’ rated (18 rated here in the UK) Superhero movies, long before characters like Deadpool were ever conceived for the big screen. Snyder’s film is visually enthralling, deep and concise in its portrayal of the original classic series, as much a must watch now as it ever was, not only one of the greatest comic book movies of all time… but literally one of the greatest movies of all time! 

watchmen emoWho Watches The Watchmen?… You Should!

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And with DC’s current take on the characters with Geoff Johns fantastic Doomsday Clock limited series, and HBO’s upcoming TV series… there’s plenty more minutemen to come!

About ArcaneHalloween

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies....but then isn't everyone?

Posted on September 14, 2019, in Comics, Comics in film and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. It was indeed a really good adaptation of a good story. I think the fact it did well FINALLY got TV and movie producers to pull their heads out of their rear and quit watering down heroes. The version of Thor in the Lou Ferigno Hulk series was particularly cringe worthy, not to mention a few earlier Captain America movies. Without Watchmen, we may never have gotten the MCU.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Though I can’t speak for the MCU, as I don’t watch Marvel movies (I’m a fanatical DC fan) it definitely opened the market to mature themed comic book movies and had a dramatic influence on the direction DC initially took with it’s own DCU.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Top stuff Arcane! I first read Watchmen in the mid 90s and was blown away. Easily one of my favourite books. Snyder’s film did it justice I thought, and both the book and film I always enjoy revisiting. I agree it’s Snyder’s cornerstone so far, closely followed by his brilliant take on Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Sucker Punch. Also enjoyed the Tales of the Black Freighter tie-in which Syder was execucitve producer of at the time of Watchmen. Excited about the upcoming series!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey there my friend, I also absolutely love both the original comic and Snyder’s astonishing movie adaptation. Dawn of the Dead is actually one of the few remakes of classic movies that I enjoyed, and it’s also great to have another fan of the awesomeness that is Sucker Punch, which is very much an underrated gem… in fact I think I shall watch that this evening right after my millionth viewing of Watchmen! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I friggin’ LOVE this movie! And, of course, the book. (I actually like the ending in the film more than the one in the book.) I’m waiting for DC to release a HC edition of all 12 issues of Geof Johns’ Doomsday Clock so I can read that. I’ve heard it is very good. Hopefully the series will be good, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too , as you know my friend, love this film passionately… and heartily agree that the ending is definitely better in the movie! As for Geoff Johns ‘Doomsday Clock’ It is absolutely amazing, and you’ll have ablast reading it, though I do highly recommend that you read DC’s Batman/Flash story ‘The Button’ first as it’s rather essential to the unfolding plot of Doomsday Clock. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really looking forward to the HBO series…. High hopes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A great review and a favourite film of mine. The opening sequence is still the best of any superhero film ever made✌🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m gonning to tune into the first episode of the Watchmen TV series … fingers crossed 🤞🏻

    Apparently Alan Moore has put a warlock like curse on the whole thing ⚡️💫✨

    Liked by 1 person

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