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The Watchmen TV Series Is Going in a Different Direction Than Anyone Anticipated

Who will watch the Watchmen?

Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen comic

When it was announced that HBO would bring Alan Moore’s Watchmen to the small screen as a TV series, the collective response was basically “why?” The iconic comics were long considered unadaptable, and then Zack Snyder made a movie version in 2009, which didn’t really do anything to convince anyone they’d been wrong about that “unadaptable” thing. A TV series, simply by virtue of being longer than a movie, might at least have the benefit of being able to make room to fully explore the material in the comics, but it still seemed like a strange choice, which is probably why they’ve decided to go in a different direction with it.

Writer and producer Damon Lindelof took to Instagram yesterday to post a five-page letter to fans of the comics (mimicking the style of Dr. Manhattan’s own introspection), both assuring them of his own reverence for the material, as well as illustrating what he’s planning for the new series’ take on it. Apparently, it’s not really going to be an adaptation, but a spiritual successor set after the events of the original—though Lindelof specifically noted that “sequel” wasn’t the right word, either:

Day 140.

A post shared by Damon (@damonlindelof) on

According to Lindelof, the new series will take place after the events of the original, which it will not alter, treating it as the history of the universe they’re working in. It won’t follow any of the characters we already know, instead focusing on creating something entirely new. Much like the original was very much a product of its time, this new chapter will take place in the modern day and “resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless. And speaking of Horsemen, The End of the World is off the table… which means the heroes and villains—as if the two are distinguishable—are playing for different stakes entirely.”

There’s still plenty of room for the series to go either good or bad, but at least creating a wholly original story gives it freedom to explore its own themes in its own way. I’m always wary of anything that’s trying to capture the spirit of our current moment in the world because of how quickly that can devolve into ham-fisted territory, but it’s also an opportunity to make something that truly stands on its own. It could all go horribly wrong, but it’s also the best chance for success. I’ve had a rocky relationship with Lindelof’s work in the past (Lost and the “no polar bears” rule come to mind), but like many people across the internet, I really liked The Leftovers, and this all leaves me way more curious than before about this new take on Watchmen.

(via io9, image: DC Comics)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.