Watchmen is often regarded as the greatest graphic novel story ever written. (Only Maus and occasionally The Dark Knight Returns get put ahead of it.) If you’ve not read it, even if you don’t read “comics,” you need to. Time Magazine even regards it as one of the best 100 novels ever written.
The book takes place in an alternate 1985 where the Cold War is much closer to nuclear war, and Richard Nixon is still president. The plot centers on the history of The Minutemen, a team of super-heroes that saw two incarnations, one in 1939-1949 and the second incarnation (called The Crime Busters”) that was only briefly in existence in 1966. In the book’s version of 1985, somebody begins murdering the surviving members and one of The Crime Busters, and Rorschach (who is the last “hero” still trying to fight crime) sets-out to uncover the mystery. During the book we learn the twisted nuances of all the heroes relationships, and their tragic flaws seriously challenge the reader’s conception of heroism.
It’s not a “super hero comic,” really. It’s actually a noir deconstruction of the superhero. It’s about different ideas of justice and heroism, why we need heroes, why we have heroes, the kinds of people that become these heroes, why those kinds of people become heroes, and whether they are actually heroic at all. (Shocking revelation: the answers are neither easy nor settling)
The characters are based on Charlton Comics characters, who have now faded to obscurity for all but the most devoted DC Comics readers today. Fortunately, the archetypes in those Charlton Comics were broad and I think, just by looking at the images from the movie and the comic, you’ll see things you recognize.
Anyways, the production wrapped a few weeks ago… and now we can finally see how some of these iconic literary characters will look when they are portrayed for the first time in a film. It’s important to remember that the style of photos comes from the marketing department, not the filmmakers. You’ll have to filter that out.
Rorschach is the fan-favorite character. He’s a detective, a socio-path, an anti-hero, and holds personal views about morality and humanity that are not only wholly deplorable and unacceptable, but are probably correct. I’m curious to see how some aspects of his character are portrayed in light of today’s political climate.
The images we have seen or Rorschach, including this one, are absolutely perfect. Really, I don’t think anything needs to be said about it. Also, I think this is probably going to be my Halloween costume this year.
The Comedian, for those who haven’t read the comic, is a Punisher-sort of character. He began his career as a friendlier crime fighter, but a tour in WWII seriously altered his outlook on crime and the best methods of fighting it. He later serves as a secret agent for President Nixon.
As for the movie version… it’s spot-on. Seriously, this is stroke-for-stroke what the character should look like. Of all five images we have, this is the most pleasing to me.
The Silk Spectre II
There’s two Silk Spectres in Watchmen, the original served in the first incarnation of The Minutemen. This is her daughter. The original Silk Spectre was more of a pin-up girl than a real hero and her daughter has accepted the mantle out of obligation and a lack of personal ambition more than a desire to really change the world.
Again, this costume is pretty spot-on. Hopefully the actress is good because Silk Spectre II is one of the sadder characters in the series, I think.
The Nite Owl II
The original Nite Owl is much like The Blue Beetle, though Nite Owl II (a fan of the original with a large inheritance who takes the role) has strong, strong elements of pre-Dark Knight Returns Batman. Nite Owl II is basically a super-hero hobbyist who would otherwise have no business fighting crime. He’s also, psychologically, the most “normal” of the Minutemen.
As for this costume, I think it might turn some fans off… but I like it. It’s not as homely looking as it is in the comics, but if Watchmen the film is going to deconstruct the superhero, it is important that the average moviegoer sees what they know superheroes to be. In that sense, I think this costume is very, very reminiscent of the Batman Begins Batman costume, with some smaller elements that resemble the Spider-Man and Daredevil movie incarnations. I appreciate the updates and I think they were carefully considered. Personally, I think its terrific.
Ozymandias is man of super-human intelligence. His powerful brain also afforded him the ability to become an expert in acrobatics and martial arts. He’s a sort of spiritual guru who chose to become a costumed vigilante after an eye-opening, drug-induced experience in the Mediterranean. During the second, brief incarnation of The Minutemen, Ozymandias comes to believe that good and evil are not quantifiable by acts of crime and he becomes a sort of moral relativist. After vigilantes are banned in the 70′s, Ozymandias markets his image to amass a fortune.
This is the most disappointing image. In the comics Ozymandias is surrounded by opulent artifacts and gold. This is a much grittier rendition of the character, although considering the color of his blonde hair in the photo, the image may just be high desaturated. One of the most interesting aspects of the character is how, through money and marketing, Ozymandias has positioned himself as a sort of god. (Almost an Oprah-Tom Cruise-Bill Gates hybrid) That is not reflected here.