“Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.” How right Doctor Manhattan was. In 2019, the story of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen will continue in a brand new live-action series on HBO from the co-creator and showrunner of Lost and The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof.
In May 2019, the first official teaser trailer was released, giving eager Watchmen fans a look at the series and all the ways it will stick to Watchmen lore and build on it. Cast members Regina King, Don Johnson, Jeremy Irons, and Jean Smart all get considerable screentime as the trailer gives us a better taste of the plot (more on that below).
HBO’s Watchmen not a reboot, nor is it a remake. In a long letter posted in a series of pictures on Instagram back in May 2018, Lindelof explained how the new Watchmen is inspired by the original, and acknowledges it as canon, but isn’t just picking up where the comic left off. In that same letter, Lindelof explained how much of an impact the original Watchmen comic book had on his professional career and his personal life.
“Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament,” he wrote. “When the New Testament came along it did not erase what came before it. Creation. The Garden of Eden. Abraham and Isaac. The Flood. It all happened. And so it will be with ‘Watchmen.’”
Here’s everything we know about Lindelof’s Watchmen, including details about its story and continuity and when exactly the series is expected to premiere.
When Is the Watchmen Release Date on HBO?
Sometime in Fall 2019 but that’s all we know for now. However, given the increasing frequency of promotion from official Watchmen social media accounts, we may get more information very soon.
What Is Watchmen?
Watchmen is a 12-issue comic book published by DC Comics in 1987. Set outside mainstream DC continuity and in an alternate timeline of our “real” world, Watchmen envisions superheroes as broken, immoral people who inadvertently become pawns in a game of fascist chess.
Set in the mid-‘80s, the story of Watchmen concerns the mysterious murders of retired superheroes carried out by an unknown assailant. Rorschach, a ruthless masked vigilante, begins a temporary reunion of his former “Minutemen” colleagues to find out who is targeting them and why.
Wasn’t There Already a Watchmen Movie?
In 2009, after many years of starts and stops and a revolving door of directors, 300 director Zack Snyder finally achieved a big budget Hollywood version of Watchmen in a lavishly produced production that was almost too dedicated to the source material.
Critics and fans to this day argue over the film’s merits. The most recent analysis worth the read is an essay from Tom Breihan over at The AV Club, which argues that Snyder was unquestionably in love with the comic but missed the point of its themes.
Explains Breihan, “To Moore, heroes are either ineffectual and useless, or they’re fearsome fanatics out to destroy lives. The impulses that produces these heroes are bad impulses. They’re about domination. There’s nothing cool about them. And yet Snyder can’t help but make everything look as cool as it possibly can.”
Is the HBO Watchmen Series a Reboot? A Sequel? A Prequel?
While DC has published both a prequel (2009’s Before Watchmen) and a sequel (2017’s Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns), neither involving the original creators, Lindelof told fans in a lengthy letter on Instagram that his Watchmen will be a “remix” that acknowledges the original story as canonical but follows its own path with its own characters (save for a few, which we’ll get into in a bit).
Insisting that the events of the original comic “happened,” Lindelof said: “To be clear, Watchmen is canon. Just the way Mr. Moore wrote it, the way Mr. Gibbons drew it and the way the brilliant John Higgins colored it.”
It’s not a sequel though. “This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built… but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary.”
While the comic was set in the 1980s, an era “specific” to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Lindelof says the new series will “resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin.”
Is There a Trailer For Watchmen?
Yes, there’s finally a trailer. The first extended Watchmen teaser debuted on May 7, 2019 (you can watch it at the top of this page).
What’s the Plot for HBO’s Watchmen?
The new extended teaser shows that Lindelof has kept true to his May 2018 Instagram comments. The world of HBO’s Watchmen looks more modern than the alternate 1980s world presented in Moore’s Watchmen. New characters, including Regina King’s character, vigilante Angela Abar, have modern clothes and vibes but original Watchman Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt (played by Jeremy Irons) also makes an appearance. Also, it appears there will be many Rorschachs instead of just one as seen in the graphic novel. Interesting…
Little is known about the exact plot of Watchmen, but we can expect there to be references and narrative ties to Watchmen. As Johnson’s police chief suggests, vigilantes have returned, telling his squad, “We convinced ourselves that they were gone, but they were just hibernating.” At another point in the trailer, we hear someone say about the vigilantes that “They came for everybody. All police,” possibly hinting at the inciting incident that kicks this series off.
Considering the official tagline for the series one of the graphic novel’s most memorable lines — “Nothing ever ends” — history may be repeating itself as a new group of Watchmen rise up to prevent the end of the world yet again.
Who’s Starring in Watchmen on HBO?
A lot of the characters in Lindelof’s Watchmen remain unknown. However, Jeremy Irons is playing an apparently older version of Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, a genius intellect and sophisticated celebrity in the world of Watchmen who, at the end of the comic, orchestrates one of the most heinous crimes in history.
Tim Blake Nelson, who stars in the Coen Brothers’ recent Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, is playing a new character called “Looking Glass.”
The rest of the cast are playing characters yet to be identified. But the cast credits include Regina King, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr., Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Tom Milson, Frances Fisher, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who plays the supervillain Black Manta in Aquaman.
Who Is the Composer for Watchmen on HBO?
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who won an Oscar for composing the eerie soundtrack to 2010’s The Social Network.
What’s With the Yellow Masks?
Yellow is a recurring motif in Watchmen, reflective of the Comedian’s bloodied smiley face pin, which is a visual metaphor for the story.
In new previews being uploaded to Instagram (@watchmen), members of a police force are seen wearing yellow masks. It is truly difficult to determine the exact context of all of this, but safe to say there is definitely something foul when it comes to law enforcement in the modern world of Watchmen.
In many ways, Watchmen is reflective of our own real world. Nothing has changed.
Watchmen will premiere on HBO in 2019.
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