HBO is officially moving forward with their adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel Watchmen, with Lost and The Leftovers showrunner Damon Lindelof at the helm of the series pilot.
The seminal graphic novel is set in an alternate reality where the presence of superheroes swung the outcome of the Vietnam War. Watchmen was a dark, revolutionary deconstruction of superhero stories, showcasing deeply flawed heroes grappling with their personal demons and the escalation of the Cold War.
HBO has been attempting to adapt the story into an ongoing series for a few years now, and it looks like they may have finally cracked the code. Per Variety, the network is officially ordering a Watchmen pilot, as well as additional scripts should the pilot be ordered to series.
As has been rumored for awhile now, writer/producer Damon Lindelof will mastermind the Watchmen adaptation. Lindelof is no stranger to beloved franchises, having worked on Star Trek Into Darkness and Prometheus after wrapping up his work on Lost. Lindelof recently voiced his love for the source material, but wanted to make sure he could do it justice before committing to the project. He seemingly feels confident in his ability to deliver at this point. His previous series, The Leftovers, recently wrapped a three-season run on HBO that was never a ratings champion, but was among the most critically acclaimed shows on television, telling a complex, sorrowful, supernatural flavored story. In retrospect, The Leftovers seems like the perfect warm up act for taking on Moore’s dark superhero opus.
This is, of course, not the first time Watchmen has gotten a live action adaptation. Justice League director Zack Snyder famously helmed a big screen iteration of the graphic novel. That film featured stunning visuals and a slavish dedication to painstakingly recreating scenes from the source material. While it has gained something of a cult following – especially its expanded Blu-ray cut – the film was critically divisive and only a modest box office success.
Lindelof’s adaptation will likely have to take much bigger liberties with the source material than Snyder’s film, as a straight retelling of the graphic novel would seem limited in an ongoing television series. It’s possible Lindelof could take a cue from The Leftovers, which was also adapted from a critically acclaimed book; that series told the full story of the source material in its first season, then went on to tell new stories and expand the characters and their world in subsequent outings.
Whatever option Lindelof takes, a Watchmen TV series will be a massive undertaking with huge expectations, and is likely being eyed as a major player for post-Game of Thrones HBO. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Lindelof.
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