5 things you need to know about 'Watchmen' on HBO

You technically don't need to have read the comics or watched the movie, but you'll miss a lot of Easter eggs if you're going in fresh.

In a year full of incredible TV, HBO may have saved the best for last. Watchmen debuts this Sunday, giving fans of the iconic comic book series (and a pretty decent Zack Snyder movie) an updated take on the story of Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, the Comedian, Silk Spectre, the Nite Owl, Ozymandias, and the troubled world they left in their wake.

We’ll have a full review on Inverse shortly, but in the meantime, prepare yourself for a beautiful, violent experience that’s equal parts provocative and trollish. Watchmen is somehow a show about racism in America that turns the police into masked heroes, and that’s just in the first episode. In showrunner Damon Lindelof’s own words, it’s “wildly irresponsible.”

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It’s also a lot of fun. The costumes are perfect, the acting stands up to anything else on HBO, and the action is brutal and beautiful. Having watched the first three episodes, I think it’s safe to say that anyone who liked The Boys, Logan, or even Game of Thrones will enjoy Watchmen. And before you ask, no, you don’t have to know the comics or see the movie to enjoy this new show, but you’ll probably miss some fun Easter eggs if you go in totally fresh.

This is Multiverse, a twice-weekly guide to the world of geek culture TV and movies. I’m Jake Kleinman, and this week we’re talking Watchmen. Here’s everything you need to know before the show premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Question: What was your favorite superhero movie or TV show in 2019? Avengers: Endgame? DC’s Shazam? Amazon’s The Boys? Or are you all in on Watchmen? Share your answer in this Twitter poll, or if you prefer, email me at jacob@inverse.com.

5 things to know about Watchmen on HBO

Extremely minimal spoilers ahead. Here are a few things worth keeping in mind as you prepare for Watchmen’s Sunday night premiere:

5) HBO’s Watchmen takes place several decades after the original comic book run. Robert Redford is president, superheroes are illegal, and the police now wear bright yellow masks after a domestic terrorist group targeted cops on Christmas Eve a few years before the show begins.

4) There’s plenty of returning heroes living complicated new lives (Doctor Manhattan is still on Mars; Ozymandias may have totally lost his mind).

3) If you don’t have time to read the comic or see the movie before Sunday, you should at least read the Wikipedia article so that when it starts raining squids, you know why. Funny enough, the Honest Trailers parody of the Watchmen movie is also a pretty good refresher if you’ve seen it before but can’t remember what happened.

2) And if you’re wondering why the white supremacist terrorists on the show all dress like Rorschach — wasn’t he a good guy? — read a quick explainer on the character’s complex history.

1) Finally, If you’ve somehow made it this far into the email but still aren’t sold on Watchmen, here’s Inverse’s Eric Francisco on why you should watch the show:

HBO’s Watchmen is a beautiful, complicated mess of ideas — sorta like the book! Many things about it blew me away. Other things had me less than enthused. But is it the must-see new show of fall 2019? 100%.

Remember when Batman met the Watchmen?

DC Comics

And the winner is…

Last week I asked Multiverse readers who their favorite Batman villain was. I got some great responses, ranging from classics to Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze to forgotten baddies like King Tut (who should probably stay forgotten if we’re being honest).

But at the end of the day, one Gotham City supervillain reigns supreme. Out of 207 votes, the Joker was the clear victor with 49% of the vote. Catwoman was a distant second at 16%, but maybe that will change after Zoe Kravitz takes on the role in 2021’s The Batman.

In the meantime, don’t forget to vote in this week’s Twitter poll all about the best superhero movies and shows of the year. Avengers: Endgame has an early lead, but it’s not too late for my favorite new Netflix series of 2019, Umbrella Academy, to eke out a win.

Watchmen premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

This is a recreation of Inverse’s twice-weekly newsletter, Multiverse. Sign up for free.