Though we did get a lengthy, very intriguing trailer for HBO’s Watchmen at San Diego Comic-Con, the upcoming Damon Lindelof series didn’t have a panel there to offer more insight. However, the Television Critics Association did get a Watchmen panel yesterday, and we now have a clearer idea of the show’s central conflict. Turns out, it’s more familiar than you might have realised.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original comic, which came out in 1986 and 1987, famously drew from lingering Cold War fears over nuclear tensions between America and Russia. Lindelof wanted his new series, which is set a decade after the events of the books, to examine the 2019 equivalent. According to a report on the TCA panel by Deadline, it wasn’t hard for him to know what that might be: “race and the police.”
He elaborated, in this quote reported by Slashfilm:
“That idea started to graft itself into the Watchmen universe and needed to be presented in a responsible way,” Lindelof said. “My hope is over the course of the entire season, the nine episodes we’ve completed, you’ll have a much better sense of that.
I think those contradictions were things we were very aware of in storytelling and tried to square to the best of our ability. There are no easy answers. There are no grandiose solutions. In a traditional superhero movie, the bad guys are fighting aliens. When they beat the aliens, the aliens go back to their planet and everybody wins. There’s no defeating white supremacy. It felt like a pretty formidable foe.”
However, both sources also noted that while HBO’s Watchmen will explore themes that resonate with America’s reality in 2019, there will be some notable differences between what’s on the screen and what’s really happening.
One is that the president on the show will be Robert Redford, who transitioned from acting into politics to become “the longest-serving POTUS ever,” and whose “very liberal” politics, per Deadline, haven’t necessarily made the world a better place. Neither has the fact that the world of the show is one without the internet.
“It is not supposed to be a world that you recognise to Trojan horse themes that are in a real-world in a fictional one,” Lindelof said, per Deadline. “What is actual history and what is alt-history and things start to get blended in the middle.”