The Watchmen

The Watchmen (2009)

1. Analysis of the Book. (Moore) The Watchmen is a comic book series created by Alan Moore from 1986-1987. It is a graphic novel published by DC Comics. The story takes place in an alternate universe (or alternate history) where the year is 1985, the Soviet Union is invading Afghanistan, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. Additionally, it is a world where the United States was victorious in the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon is still president after five successful terms. The series follows the events that transpire between a retired group of superheroes who are once again thrust into the center of a chaotic world. The entire series is a tool used by the author to create an insightful political and social commentary of the world around us.

2. Analysis of the Film. (Snyder) The film is an adaptation of Alan Moore’s series of the same name. It was released in 2009 and directed by Zack Snyder. The film is dark, almost like a cross between gothic (the sun never shines and it’s always raining) and steampunk (ex. The Archimedes), and tends to be a bit heavy on the gore and violence. The visual effects are amazing throughout the film, and attempt to convey some sense of the graphic novel.

3. Analysis of the Adaptation. It is, overall, a fairly faithful adaptation in many ways, but Snyder makes a large number of cuts and additions to change the story and make its length suitable for a feature length film (the original graphic novel was in twelve parts). Examples of changes made include an altered ending where multiple cities are nuked as opposed to only New York in the original series. The film adaptation does a much less thorough job of developing the characters backgrounds due to time constraints. The film garnered very mixed and opposed reviews from critics and fans alike.

4. Online Research of the Film. The three online sources I found in relation to The Watchmen include:  This site has a great deal of information comparing the development of theme in the graphic novel versus the film. It’s long and offers a number of insights I hadn’t previously considered. It touches on things such as the relativity of human morality and the inevitability of becoming what you hate.   provides a basic summary of events in the film, but also provides an analysis of some of the varied elements of the film.    This site provides an analysis of some of the deeper meanings of the graphic novel.

5. Critical Analysis.

At the end of the film, when Dr. Manhattan arrives at Carnac (Antarctica) and confronts Ozymandias, Ozymandias grabs a television remote and Dr. Manhattan says: “What’s that? Another ultimate weapon?” This is meant to be ironic, but in what ways is it true? That is, in what ways is television (and other visual media like film) problematic in the world depicted in Watchmen?

It is true because it represents the impact of media, the relative brainwashing of the public, and the public’s loss of critical reasoning. The point that is made is that television is the ultimate weapon because it controls the minds of all the people who watch it, and it dictates the responses that people will make. Throughout the film there are several scenes where they are watching several televisions at one time to monitor the status of the outside world. Yet, if you look at the images broadcast, they are not news or current events. Rather, they are commercials such as the Orwellian Apple ad which eluded to 1984, or the “unforgettable” ad which used the Nat King Cole song of the same name. The idea is that the media and commercialization control the minds of the public.




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2 responses to “The Watchmen

  1. Agreed with the brainwashing bit. I tink it extends to all of social media as well, and it’s interesting that this is being said within amovie that is seen by so many people around the world, which is itself a form of tv/social media

  2. Well done. I appreciated your take on the use of media in the film. Part of Moore’s objection to the film adaptation I’m sure is that he also sees media as part of the problem, including film. 10/10. JB.

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