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“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic

Art is the phenomenon that helps human beings reflect the real world, and also differentiates between human beings and other animal species on the Earth. The art of filmmaking, or cinematography, is one of the most modern and, at the same time, the most fascinating art forms. However, sometimes it is difficult for the cinematography to merge with other forms of art so that to create a high-quality movie. This is the case with the screening of the worldwide famous comic novel “The Watchmen ” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Overthinking It, 2008). Accordingly, the focus of this paper will be the consideration of the main obstacles to the filming of the comic, certain issues that both the comic and the movie faced, and the philosophical analysis of the main characters of the comic – Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach and the Comedian.

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To begin with, it is necessary to consider the major facts about the original comic novel “The Watchmen”. This is a piece of literary art that depicts the fictional world of the future in which the nuclear conflict between the United States of America and the Soviet Union is rather possible. All the events of the work are concentrated around this conflict as some of the heroes, like the Comedian, try to bring it closer, while the superheroes like Silk Spectre, Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan do their best to avoid the war with all its negative consequences (Gopalan, 2008). Thus, here is a more detailed analysis of the mentioned characters. In any case, however, the filming of “The Watchmen” took place, and it is necessary to analyze the major characters of this story.

First of all, the comic “The Watchmen” is a story about Dr. Manhattan, a person with the supernatural, almost divine, powers which he acquired after a failing experiment in his laboratory. Carrying out a test in nuclear physics, Dr. Jonathan Osterman became a victim of a blast that disintegrated his physical body. However, instead of the instant death, the Doctor obtained the power to restructure his organism and be able to travel in time and space, produce nuclear blasts by the mere power of his mind, and so on. At once, the American government turned Dr. Manhattan into their main force and leading military unit. Such a position made the United States into the most powerful country in the world, but the Doctor himself was broken by this state of things. Being tired of exploiting his powers in favor of politicians, intelligence services and armed forces, Dr. Manhattan finally moved to his residence on Mars seeing the inevitability of nuclear war (Irwin & White, 2009). Thus, philosophically viewing, the character of Dr. Manhattan can be interpreted as the reflection of American society and politics. His unlimited powers can be compared to the leading position of the USA on the international arena, but his realization that these powers might destroy the whole planet is the appeal to those politicians who forget about the fate of ordinary people pursuing their own goals (Irwin & White, 2009).

Further on, the character of the Rorschach should be considered as an embodiment of the political, ethical and moral awareness of the society. The authors of the comic depict Rorschach as a real-world Batman fighting against crime and injustice on his own (Irwin & White, 2009). From this point of view, Rorschach can be characterized as a nationalist for whom the good and the bad are clear and who tries to reach justice and peace in the world. However, from the philosophical point of view, this character presents a much wider range of features. First of all, the image of his permanently morphing face is the symbol of the lost principles of modern society. This fact shows that modern people do not have any stable principles and are subject to any influences from the outside whether they are political, religious, etc (Irwin & White, 2009).

At the same time, the readiness of Rorschach to fight against the world’s injustice alone is the manifestation of the great power hidden in the society. Developing this character, the authors seem to say to the Government that their policies are not always praised by the nation, and there will be a moment when the American citizens, tired of all the negative phenomena in the society, will rebel. Thus, the image of a lonely superhero is the symbol of such a superhero that can be found in every ordinary person (Irwin & White, 2009).

Finally, the character called the Comedian is the reflection of all the major sins and drawbacks typical of every human being in particular and the society on the whole (Irwin & White, 2009). Generally, the Comedian can be called the Fallen Angel of his time. According to “The Watchmen”, Edward Morgan Blake, later named the Comedian due to his mask and a smiling badge, was an active agent in the Minutemen group, but his positive career came to its end after his unsuccessful rape attempt. One of other Minutemen beat him when the Comedian tried to rape the Silk Spectre, and after this the Comedian became a semi-criminal person who violated the laws and worked for the US intelligence at the same time (Irwin & White, 2009).

Being employed by the Government, the Comedian still resorted to crime, during which he was dressed in a comedian costume and a mask that hid the scar that ran from his right eye to the mouth. Finally, when the Comedian came to know about the Ozymandias’ plan to destroy New York City, the latter had nothing to do but to kill the witness of his dangerous experiment. Thus, the Comedian was killed, but the whole plot of the comic turns around his person in the form of regular flashbacks that the other heroes have (Irwin & White, 2009).

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It goes without saying thus, that such a fascinating story could not be left without attention by the Hollywood film makers. At the same time, considerable issues were involved in the attempts to film “The Watchmen”.

The major obstacle on the way of those who intended to film the comic novel was the claim of one of the authors of “The Watchmen”, Alan Moore, who stated that his work was “unfilmable” (Gopalan, 2008). The first attempt to film the comic was undertaken by Terry Gilliam, a famous movie director. It started and stopped during the talk with Mr. Moore who explained the impossibility to film his graphic novel to Mr. Gilliam. Their talk did not amount to any dispute as far as Terry Gilliam completely agreed with the idea that it was impossible to render the whole range of the emotions, spatial relations and other impressions that readers might receive from the printed version of “The Watchmen” (Gopalan, 2008). The author and the movie director agreed not to try any experiments, but the appearance of the new wave of interest towards “The Watchmen” provoked a young and prospective director Zack Snyder to undertake another attempt. Finally, he managed to film the comic and, despite numerous positive feedbacks, the movie has received severe criticism from Alan Moore and other fans of the comic “The Watchmen” (Watchman Interview, 2008).

At once, the question about the reasons for such a resistance to the filming of the comic arises. What makes the author of the work, Mr. Moore, be confident about the impossibility to film it? The answers are numerous but their essence may be reduced to the following points: the author was disappointed at the Hollywood versions of his other comics, including “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, and his experience allows him to say that watching a movie the viewers will not get the full range of the emotional coloring of the story (Gopalan, 2008).

In other words, the purely technical issues matter here. First of all, reading a comic one can turn the pages back and restore the lost events in his or her mind. The movie does not present such an opportunity, especially if watched in the cinema. Thus, the numerous flashbacks, that the comic characters have as the plot of the story develops, will confuse the viewers without the chance to recollect the full picture (Overthinking It, 2008). Moreover, the limited duration of the movie will demand the reduction of the plot line to some major elements, while certain key phrases, minor characters and important background information will be lost. Finally, the chance to see the smiling faces of those walking the streets during the filming in the background of the movie is also a great drawback. The only possible advantage of the movie might be its visual effects and greater attractiveness to the viewers (Overthinking It, 2008).

However, the screened version of “The Watchmen” faced considerable issues even after the end of its production process. First of all, the movie was controversially perceived by the public. Some fans of the comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons protested against the film saying that it is a modified version from which a considerable share of important issues was cut. Others, on the contrary, admired the film saying that they like the version by Zack Snyder has the right for existence, because such a view of the Moore and Gibbons’ comic is new and rather interesting. Finally, the change of the final scene of the movie from the release of a huge quid to the usual Hollywood-style happy end was severely criticized (Sciretta, 2008).

Nevertheless, the comic and the movie “The Watchmen” are remarkable pieces of art. The former is called one of the greatest graphic novels in the history of world literature, while the latter provided the society with a fresh and modern view of the issues touched upon in the original variant of “The Watchmen” (Gopalan, 2008). Thus, the issues that accompanied the production and screening of the movie “The Watchmen” could not prevent this story with all its fascinating characters from remaining the object of admiration by millions of fans.

Works Cited

Gopalan, Nisha. “Alan Moore Still Knows the Score!” Entertainment Weekly. 2008. Web.

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Irwin, William and Mark D. White (Eds.) Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test. Wiley, 2009.

Overthinking It. “Is Watchmen Unfilmable?” 2008. Overthinkingit. 2009. Web.

Sciretta, Peter. “Watchmen Ending Changed?” 2008. Film. Blogging the Real World. 2009. Web.

Watchman Interview. “Director Zack Snyder – PonderPop.” 2008. Youtube. 2009. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 16). “The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic.

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"“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic." StudyCorgi, 16 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic." October 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic." October 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic." October 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“The Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Film and Comic'. 16 October.

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