Watchmen virgins: Here's your movie primer!

Watchmen2_lWatchmen is coming! Watchmen is coming! And…you don’t know a darn thing about it! Well, here we come to save the day: Check out our forthcoming cover story about Zack Snyder’s controversial superhero epic — or just peruse these introductory talking points.

1. Watchmen was published in 1986 by DC Comics as a 12-issue mini-series. Though set in an alternate-world America, the comic’s creators, writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, are both English. Both were key members of a vibrant British comic book scene that reveled in smart, irreverent, “post-modern” takes on classic superhero archetypes. That sensibility would inform their vision of Watchmen.

2. Originally, Moore and Gibbons envisioned a revisionist superhero saga/murder mystery that used existing superhero characters owned by DC Comics. Their ambition: an ultra-realistic depiction of superheroes and how such characters might actually shape and affect the real world, from politics to pop culture to religion. But when the publisher realized the creators’ irreverent and edgy treatment of the company’s valuable intellectual properties would either destroy or tarnish them, Moore and Gibbons were told to create their original characters for their story. And they did.

3. Fearful he didn’t have enough story to fill 12 issues, Moore decided to add issues devoted to deep, probing origin stories and alternate them with issues of forward-moving plot. This interchanging rhythm would become one of Watchmen’s distinguishing and most successful characteristics — and, ironically, contributed to the massive scope that has made the comic so challenging for filmmakers to adapt.

4. As Moore and Gibbons were wrapping up production on the Watchmen comic, they learned that the villain’s conspiracy plot was very similar to an episode of The Outer LimitsTV show titled “The Architects of Fear.” Too late to make anydramatic changes, Moore decided to script a scene in the final pages ofthe comic that pays explicit homage to the show.

5. Watchmen is the only comic ever to win the Hugo, thehighest honor in sci-fi/fantasy literature. It was published the sameyear as another trailblazing "adult" superhero comic: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which has influenced the creative direction of Batman comics and Batman movies ever since.

6. In the wake of Watchmen’s provocative depiction ofdo-gooders, comic book publishers decided to ape its explicit adultcontent, thus launching an era of so-called “grim and gritty” superherocomics. Moore has decried this aspect of Watchmen’s legacy, insisting the point of characters like Rorschach was to critique vigilante justice, not promulgate it.

7. Watchmen‘s collected edition, released in 1989, helpedpioneer the graphic novel format and get comic books into traditionalbookstores. The paperback is now a perennial best seller for DC Comics.Currently, there are over 1 million copies in print.

8. Moore’s other famous works include From Hell, V For Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. All have been made into movies.

9. No fan of Hollywood due to bad prior experiences, a notoriously rocky relationship with DC Comics (sister unit to Watchmenstudio Warner Bros.), and a general aesthetic disdain for the very ideaof “adaptation,” Moore has disavowed Zack Snyder’s adaptation, takenhis name off the film and ceded his royalty checks to Gibbons.

10. Famous Watchmen fans include Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Damon Lindelof (cocreator of Lost), Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler), and actor Jude Law.


Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • Dennis N.

    Why is “post-modern” in quotation marks? Was this genre only masquerading as postmodern? Or am I thinking far too hard about potential grammatical implications?

  • Dennis N.

    Oh, I didn’t realize the rule of commenting on this post. Okay, here goes (ahem):
    Oh, wow. I love Watchmen. Y’know what else I love? Loving Millionaires. Check out the site. I go there everyday and now I’ve got three to four sugar lovers!
    Was that okay? Did I do good?

  • maxwell19596

    uh the article was nice, but one very wrong point. The characters Alan Moore was going to use were Charlton characters that DC had bought the rights too. Not DC characters. Now everyone is up to speed. lol

  • Anonymous

    haha Dennis!
    but for me, I didn’t know about Watchmen before news of the movie came out… now that I’ve heard about it and saw the trailer, I’m dedicated to reading the official Watchmen series.
    find out about Loving Millionaires on..
    lol jk

  • Showbizzle Chizzle


  • ralahinn1

    Lol, looks like alot of people here just posted a link to there websites without much comentary on your article. I’ll give you alittle comentary, then, like the other’s I’ll hawk my site.
    I am a “Watchman virgin” I had heard of it from time to time, but never got around to looking into it. I do plan to see the movie though, because if it is half as good as the “V for Vendetta” one( which I own, and have seen the comic) we are in for quite a ride.
    Now here is my site,lol:


    I am not a bot, by the way, so you all can visit or email me if you like

  • Snarf

    Wow. Advanced Nerd (or is that Geek?) 101. But thanks for the info -I may tease, but I actually dig these kinds of pop-culture tidbits.

  • Anonymous

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  • somebody

    One of Watchmen fans is Junot Diaz who mentions it in his book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”.

  • Anne

    For those of you who have “seen comics” by Alan Moore before and love the crap movies based on his work and enjoyed them, you should get over your aversion to “nerdiness” and pick up the actual books. Especially since the majority of movies based on his works have been utter crap. I’ll give V for Vendetta a little credit, even though I have to agree with Moore’s critique. Anyway…the point is: READ THE BOOKS ALREADY!!!
    And yes, I am very excited for the movie.



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