HBO and Lost’s Damon Lindelof are making a Watchmen TV show, but it’s going to be very different from Alan Moore’s iconic comic. Quite what the show - which is currently in the pilot stage - is has been the subject of much discussion, but from cryptic clues and set photos we can get an idea of what's going on.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen remains one of the most iconic and influential comics in the history of the medium. For years, some of the world's top directors tried to take on the lofty task of adapting it for the big screen: 20th Century Fox acquired the film rights way back in 1986; Terry Gilliam was attached to the project in 1991 but he and producer Joel Silver were only able to raise a quarter of the budget; a decade later, David Hayter took over and produced a screenplay that Alan Moore himself said was the closest he could imagine anyone getting to a true adaptation of the comic, but he left due to creative differences; Darren Aronofsky flirted with the project, as did Paul Greengrass, but it took Zack Snyder to bring the film to fruition. 2009's Watchmen was warmly received but as with any adaptation this ambitious, things were left out. Terry Gilliam believed the only way the comic could be adapted properly was by a mini-series. Clearly, HBO agree, and so last year, a TV series was announced.
Rumors swirled and fan casting went into overdrive with the news that Damon Lindelof of Lost and The Leftovers would be the showrunner for HBO's take on Watchmen. But this isn't that show Gilliam attempted nor a bid to redo Snyder. This is something completely different.
- This Page: What We Know The Watchmen TV Show ISN'T
- Page 2: Will Watchmen Even Feature Masked Heroes?
The Watchmen TV Show Isn't an Adaptation or a Sequel
In an Instagram post, Lindelof shared some background on his relationship with Watchmen as well as some brief details on what shape his version would take, saying that it won't be an adaptation of the comic. The wording he used was certainly confusing: "they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted. They will, however, be remixed." The accepted understanding from this is that Lindelof's Watchmen will be inspired by the continuity of the comic books, but it won't be depicting those events in the series itself.
It also seems likely that the project will not be adapted from either the prequel comics Before Watchmen or the official sequel, Doomsday Clock. Whether either of these projects will be official canon in the TV show remains to be seen; neither of these was written with the involvement of Alan Moore, who has done everything in his power to distance himself from adaptations of his own work, so may be dismissed because of that. Including Doomsday Clock in the series would probably be beyond HBO’s reach given how it connects the characters with the rest of the DC multiverse.
The Watchmen TV Show Won't Feature The Classic Heroes
Lindelof's has also teased that there will be "new faces. New masks to cover them", but that the series will also explore the past, through "surprising, yet familiar sets of eyes." Much of the post is cryptic and deliberately avoids giving away specific details (fitting of one of the key brains behind Lost). Still, the vague platitudes he shares suggest a show that will primarily be new in content and character but still familiarly Watchmen. The note about "surprising, yet familiar sets of eyes" hints at the possible inclusion of characters we know from the comics. As for who, that's unclear, but those eyes are likely coming from an outside presence.
Recently, set photos of the Watchmen pilot have provided a lot of information and confirmed long-whispered details. While the series' working title is reportedly Brooklyn, the downtown Macon, Georgia area has been redressed to stand in for Tulsa, Oklahoma. It had already been hinted that the series would not take place in the 1980s, per the comics, and the set images seem to confirm that; one image shows a poster for a TV series titled American Hero Story: Minutemen, a cheeky riff on Ryan Murphy's anthologies, suggesting that this alternate universe has begun to dramatize the stories of its most famous heroes (the Minutemen was the name of both generations of superhero groups in the comics). That detail is important as it also suggests we're somewhat removed from masked heroes.