5 Reasons Why HBO’s Watchmen Might Fail

At Comic-Con International in San Diego, HBO unveiled the first full-length trailer for Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen.

Taking place in the same universe as the seminal 1986-87 limited series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the show will serve as a sequel of sorts, exploring the present-day ramifications of the events set in motion decades earlier.

However, as excited as we here at Epicstream are to see this new take on Watchmen, we’re also skeptical, and while we certainly hope it doesn’t, here are five reasons why HBO’s Watchmen might fail:

  1. It’s Not the Source Material

    Fans of Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen hold the source material in the highest regard. So much so that almost any attempt to recreate or expand upon it has been met with vitriol, not just by fans but also by Moore himself.

    In 2009, Warner Bros. released a Watchmen film, directed by Zack Snyder. However, while Gibbons served as an advisor on the project, Moore refused because he felt what he and Gibbons did in Watchmen could only work in a comic book.

    Then, in 2012, DC released a prequel tale called Before Watchmen, which consisted of eight miniseries and a Dollar Bill one-shot. Unfortunately, many fans felt, that, given Moore’s strict objection, this was a shameless move by the publisher. The same can also be said of the currently in-progress Doomsday Clock limited series (albeit to a lesser extent), which is a sequel to Watchmen that combines the characters of that world with the DC Universe proper.

    Taking all this into account, Watchmen purists may not even want to give the HBO series the time of day, considering Moore’s feelings.

  2. It’s Not the Source Material, Part II

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who love the original Watchmen so much that they can’t wait to see Lindelof expand on it. However, this could also prove problematic.

    While the HBO series will include an aging Ozymandias and, seemingly, Doctor Manhattan, it’s clear the focus is going to be on new characters, such as Regina King’s Angela Abraham, Don Johnson’s Judd Crawford and Tim Blake Nelson’s Looking Glass.

    Of course, there will still be other familiar elements, such as the Rorschach-mask-wearing extremists, the Black Freighter nods and the new Silk Spectre. Nevertheless, those hoping for a direct continuation of the comic could have their nostalgia overwhelmed by Lindelof’s attempt to break new ground.

  3. Negative Name Recognition

    We’ve already touched heavily upon the comic book fans, but what about the non-comic book fans? Chances are, their only real familiarity with Watchmen, if any, is the aforementioned 2009 movie, which was a commercial failure and a critical mediocrity.

    Zack Snyder’s Watchmen grossed $185.26 million worldwide off an estimated $130 million budget, so while it may have covered its production costs, it certainly didn’t make up for marketing. As for ratings, the film holds a 64% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a 7.6/10 on IMDb and a Metascore of 56.

    Granted, none of those scores are outright terrible, but they’re proof that there’s a vocal swath of viewers that weren’t fans of the film, and those very same people might not want to tune in to see the HBO series if that’s their only point of reference when it comes to Watchmen.

  4. Damon Lindelof

    The creator of HBO’s Watchmen, Damon Lindelof, has a track record that’s every bit as impressive as it is polarizing, with writing credits that include The Leftovers, Tomorrowland, Lost, World War Z, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness and Cowboys & Aliens, among others. As you’ll surely notice, there are some big hits in that list, but also some colossal misses.

    Many viewers are critical of Lindelof’s storytelling and, especially in the case of Lost, his ability to deliver a satisfying conclusion to what’s been set up. That being said, it’s understandable that some feel his take on Watchmen could prove to be an intriguing concept that ultimately falls flat.

  5. Alan Moore Was Right

    To elaborate on a point made earlier, in 2008, Moore told Entertainment Weekly, “There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can't… There are a couple of adaptations that are perhaps as good or better than the original work. But the vast majority of them are pointless.”

    Say what you will about Moore, but -- as the co-creator of Watchmen -- his words definitely hold some weight.

    Arriving on HBO in October, Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen stars Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith and Adelynn Spoon.

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