In a world where there’s sequels and reboots and prequels up the wazoo, it can be difficult to parse out what HBO’s Watchmen is trying to do. With fans of Game of Thrones left wondering what to sink their teeth into next, Watchmen, which premieres this fall, may be they’re new favorite series.
But is it a sequel to the original comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons? Is it a prequel? A reboot? If you ask series showrunner Damon Lindelof, it’s none of those things. It’s a “remix.” Way back in 2018, Lindelof, the co-creator of other event TV like Lost and The Leftovers, expressed his devotion to the original 1988 comic Watchmen, published by DC, and what direction his new series is taking in an Instagram post.
“We have no desire to ‘adapt’ the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created thirty years ago,” Lindelof wrote. “Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted.”
He adds, “They will, however be remixed.”
To Lindelof, his new series takes the events of the original as canon but fast forwards to our current time, far removed from the drama of the Watchmen and what repercussions their actions have left upon the world.
“Because the bass lines in those familiar tracks are just too good and we’d be fools not to sample them. Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament. 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.”
More interesting, Lindelof noted that the original Watchmen was specific to ‘80s anxieties — “of Reagan and Thatcher and Gorbachev” — and said that the HBO series “needs to resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless.”
There will also be no “end of the world,” apocalypse-level stakes, and that the “heroes and villains” are playing a different game (of thrones) entirely.
In short: Watchmen on HBO is a sequel, just not the sort of sequel you’re used to. While Jeremy Irons is starring as an aged Ozymandias, and armed vigilantes have appropriated Rorschach’s mask, the new series is only loosely tied to the actual characters and story of the original.
We’re not seeing Dan/Nite-Owl II and Laurie/Silk Spectre II living as married couple under new identities. We’re not following Doctor Manhattan living in isolation on Mars. And we’re definitely not seeing an adaptation of Doomsday Clock, the actual comic book sequel that includes DC heroes like Batman and Superman in the story of Watchmen.
But nothing ends, anyway. Nothing ever ends.
Watchmen will premiere on HBO in 2019.