HBO’s Watchmen Looks Nothing Like the Comic. That’s a Good Thing

Earlier today, HBO released the first trailer for Watchmen, its adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal graphic novel. Created and overseen by Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost and the man behind one of HBO’s best shows, The Leftovers, Watchmen has been promoted as a “remix” of the original comic that will use some of Moore and Gibbons’ ideas to tell a different story.

That might’ve been understating it. While the new trailer is bursting with classic Watchmen iconography, including plenty of superheroes, ink-spotted masks, and Watchmen‘s trademark blood-splattered happy face, the overall plot of the show diverges from the comic almost completely. It’s wild, it’s brand new, and it’s very intriguing.

The three-minute trailer is packed with details and action, although it does find time amid all of the explosions and violence to explain show’s basic conceit. In HBO’s Watchmen, vigilantes sporting masks like the one worn by one of Watchmen‘s heroes, Rorschach, launch a coordinated attack on Tulsa’s police officers. In response, the cops start wearing masks to hide their identities. The ensuing conflict looks like it will be a battle between the vigilantes and the authorities, with Oscar-winner Regina King’s Angela Abar caught in somewhere in the middle.

That’s very, very different from the book, which is about a team of former superheroes coming out of hiding in order to stop a plot to destroy the world. Still, a few familiar faces pop up in the trailer: Jeremy Irons appears as an older Adrian Veidt, who’s the mastermind behind the comic’s doomsday plot, while the all-blue super-scientist Dr. Manhattan makes a trip from Mars to Earth. In addition, the original Watchmen team seem to have its own television show. Like we said, it’s quite different.

Judging by the trailer, shying away from a direct adaptation was a smart move on Lindelof’s part. A new story should keep the action fresh for both newcomers and die-hard fans, and we’ve seen what happens when Watchmen is adapted too literally. Zack Snyder’s big-screen Watchmen flick, which hit theaters in 2009, copied many scenes from the comic shot-for-shot and lost the story’s soul in the process.

Besides, if you don’t like HBO’s take on the material? It’s not a problem. Moore and Gibbons’ original story can be found in libraries and comic shops across the country. If you want the classic story, all you need to do is pick it up and start reading.

Watchmen arrives on HBO this October.


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