The first photos from the set of HBO's upcoming Watchmen have imparted some small details regarding the story of the series. They have also revealed something of the role to be played by Don Johnson, whose casting had already been confirmed by earlier reports.
The original 1986 Watchmen mini-series redefined comic books as an art-form, pushing the idea that illustrated literature could be used to tell sophisticated stories for adults, even as it deconstructed the tropes of the superhero genre. Controversial for its use of adult themes even today, Watchmen has remained in print since its 12 issues were first collected in a single trade-paperback volume. It was also named one of the 100 greatest novels written in the English language by Time Magazine. Despite this pedigree, it is still perhaps best known to the general public for its film adaptation, which was directed by Zack Snyder - the same director responsible for 300 and Man of Steel.
The first photos from the set of the new Watchmen series have made their way online by way of Hollywood Pipeline. The pictures show Johnson wearing the formal dress-blues uniform of a police officer, standing among several other men in the same uniform.
The photos show that Don Johnson - perhaps most famous for his role as Detective James "Sonny" Crockett in the television series Miami Vice - will again be playing a police officer in Watchmen, albeit probably a uniformed patrolman rather than a detective. This seems to confirm earlier rumors - based on the casting notices for Watchmen - that the new series would be building off of The Police Strike of 1977 - a minor incident in the original comics - where police officers around the country went on strike in response to the government's apparent endorsement of the activities of costumed vigilantes.
One curious note is that Johnson's appearance dressed as a police officer does not seem to correspond to any of the characters in the original casting notices. The closest match is a character referred to only as Old Man, who is described as a "former cop who is still an imposing figure despite his age." It is possible that the scene from the photos is a flashback from before Old Man left the police force, but the question is still uncertain.
Whatever Johnson's role, these pictures confirm earlier statements by Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindelof that the new series would not be a straight adaptation of the original comic book miniseries. Rather, it would be set in the same world as the original book and focus upon original characters living within the same setting. It remains to be seen if fans of the original books - many of whom are boycotting DC Comics' unofficial follow-up to Watchmen, Doomsday Clock - will accept Lindelof's adaptation, since it will not be dealing with the original book's characters. Only time will tell.