HBO’s teaser for its upcoming television series Watchmen re-introduces a world in which superheroes have become outlaws. Created by Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers), Watchmen is a contemporary take on the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
The Watchmen series stars Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr, Adelaide Clemens and Andrew Howard. Jeremy Irons plays Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. The score is by Academy Award winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The series will be released towards the end of the year.
The book is set in an alternate reality where the emergence of superheroes changes the course of history in the mid-20th century. The costumed crime fighters help America win the Vietnam war and prevent the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. But by the ’80s, when a third World War is looming, superheroes have been banned. Some start working for the American government, and the murder of one such superhero brings his colleagues out of retirement.
Lindelof’s original story takes place three decades after the events of the novel. The film will have Donald Trump and Theresa May as leaders in place of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
The teaser, which released on Wednesday, opens with a gang of armed vigilantes wearing the distinctive inkblot-like mask of Rorschach, a crime fighter with extremist views. The vigilantes run amok, leading to a doomsday scenario.
The one-minute clip also gives a glimpse of Ozymandias. Considered the smartest man on the planet, Ozymandias set the events of the Watchmen book in motion by planning a global catastrophe.
Watchmen was previously adapted as a 2009 feature film by Zack Snyder, who largely stayed faithful to the source material. However, Moore did not approve of a film adaptation of his work. In 2009, he told The Guardian, “Things that we did in Watchmen on paper could be frankly horrible or sensationalist or unpleasant if you were to interpret them literally through the medium of cinema.”
Given Moore’s objections and scepticism by fans of the graphic novel, Lindelof assured through an open letter in 2018 that while he was passionate about the book, he would not blindly adapt the source material. “Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament,” Lindelof said. “When the New Testament came along, it did not erase what came before it.”