The Shadow of Doctor Manhattan
The most powerful being in Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan also provides Lindelof with his biggest mind-bending storytelling opportunity. Westworld thrilled fans with its exploration of how the Host robots perceive time and their own sentience while programmed to exist in a constant loop, and what happens when they break from that loop. Doctor Manhattan's nearly unlimited powers and his ability to see time in a non-linear fashion could go many steps further. A Watchmen series gives the opportunity for fans to truly see the universe through Doctor Manhattan's eyes.
In Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan, writer J. Michael Straczynski used Manhattan's sojourn on Mars as a means to explore his perception of time; Manhattan essentially disassembled time to glean every possible outcome from multiple realities - such as what would have happened if he never returned to get his watch and was never transformed into Doctor Manhattan? How would the world and the people he knows have been changed? Lindelof could utilize Doctor Manhattan as a means to explore several alternate realities or timelines of the events of Watchmen, including a version of the story where Doctor Manhattan never existed - would the events of their world end up resembling what happened in our world (Nixon never served 5 terms as President, for example), or would Watchmen's world even up even worse?
Through Doctor Manhattan, Watchmen can go beyond the earthbound exploits of its other characters and really explore heady science fiction themes, explore physics and metaphysics, outer space, and reality and time itself with a character who can potentially do anything.
To paraphrase Doctor Manhattan, nothing ever ends, and that now includes adapting Watchmen. Those looking for the "purest" Watchmen experience will always have the Moore and Gibbons' graphic novel. For many, that is the only "true" Watchmen story. Plenty of fans are satisfied with Zack Snyder's movie adaptation, and now HBO has given Damon Lindelof license to see what he can do with Watchmen as a series. It will be fascinating to see how he will interpret Watchmen for HBO, what he maintains, and what he will do differently.