Alan Moore’s Watchmen is far more than standard fare for most avid comic readers. Written by one of the cantankerous old gods of the medium and widely regarded as one of – if not ‘the’ – greatest comic series ever created, its film adaptation was notoriously divisive among genre nerds. Some sided with Moore’s opinion that it shouldn’t have been adapted at all, while others loved seeing their favourite comic brought to life. Now, with David Lindelof’s television series officially in the works, the screenwriter has spilled the beans on just why and how he’ll make it work AND adapt it without ‘adapting’ it.
In an emotional letter to fans of the comic, Lindelof shares a rather personal reflection that reveals why he believes he’s the right man for the job. Essentially, he’s adamant Moore is right in his assertion that the comic should be left as is, and shouldn’t be adapted.
He posted the letter to Instagram. And while it covered a great deal of ground, you can read that yourself. It’s well worth it. It’s certainly heartfelt, but there’s an undertone to it that makes it feels like he might be getting his apologies in early. Having said that, he also seems to be sincere when he says he’s ‘compelled’ to do this. In a rather touching anecdote, he alludes to the fact that the original is just ‘too goddamn good’ to leave alone.
The new television series will steer well clear of a literal interpretation of Moore’s work and build on the themes, tone, premise and setting of Watchmen. It’s not clear whether we’ll be seeing the classic characters like Rorschach and Ozymandias in anything other than flashback form as Lindelof skirts that issue, but he does say we’ll be meeting new characters.
The screenwriter says the comics are sacred ground and he has no desire to adapt them. Instead, he’s looking at his adaptation like a remix. He wants to sample the ‘bass-lines’ of Watchmen and use them to create a ‘New Testament’.
At the same time, he says it’s not a sequel. It will be set in Moore’s world and resonate with the tradition of it while asking new questions about our own society through a fresh lens.
Lindelof’s screenwriting credits include television series and films like Lost, Prometheus, Tomorrowland, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z and Cowboys and Aliens, which may or may not provide you with a sense of eager anticipation for Watchmen.
It’s certainly an interesting prospect. If it works, it could be fantastic. If it doesn’t, well, you know where the remote is.