The Watchmen

Analyze the Book
1. The Watchmen is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore in 1986. The story takes place in an alter-reality America, in this reality America is on the brink of nuclear war and Nixon is still president. Alan Moore is quite the character and isn’t afraid to make substantial political statements in his writing, as evidenced by the general plot of the Watchmen. For this Alan has been praised and awarded for the way he has taken the comic book to a more serious level. Alan choses to make complex characters rather than the cookie cutter superhero comic book characters that were so popular before his era.

Analyze the Film
2. Zack Snyder, the film’s director has made a career off adapting graphic novels to film. His first notable product being the Frank Miller novel 300. As with any cult following’s subject of affection it was difficult to swallow the release of The Watchmen film. Condensing the source material down to one film caused for much of the back story to be omitted or turned into a montage. The movie clearly has the visual stylings of the comic book. The films lighting, setting, and wardrobes are very dark and dirty, the intentional ‘anti-super hero’ look a fan would expect from the comic.

Analyze the Adaptation
3. Zack Snyder adaptation of Alan Moore’s comic has drawn much backlash from fans of the graphic novel. While from someone who has read the story not much is apparently wrong with the superhero movie we were expected to see in the Watchmen. This is perhaps the most ironic part, since going into the movie we were use to the violence and the sensationalism, we did not pick up on the goal of the graphic novels story, so undo all of the hollywood stereo types behind superheros.  A lot of substance was lost in translation and the lingering impression of The Watchmen from someone who only saw the movie is very different than the author of the books intention.


Apparently Ebert is really a fan of the movie. He nods to the complexity inherit in the story. Its interesting because he isn’t jaded by the comparison to the graphic novel.

Once again another reviewer who thought the movie did a great job adapting but explains that any movie adaptation would be an uphill battle. Makes a great point that perhaps an HBO 12-part series could do the comic some justice.

This guy does a film vs book breakdown. Essential his opinion boils down to: The book was excellent ‘ the Citizen Kane of Graphic novels’. But while the movie did a remarkable job at adapting and keeping the central themes alive it just could not reproduce the rich and deep background that book has to offer. I don’t know how the book can be a 5/5 and the movie can go all the way down to a 3.5/5. I guess if you are strictly comparing the two, the movie can be much worse but as a stand alone item I thought it deserved more credit.

Critical Argument


5. The graphic novel, although at a glance seems like just a story board for a movie, has qualities that make it stand alone as a story medium. One example is very obviously unfilmable, the intertexual self references like in the situation of the black freight in The Watchmen. But another huge example for the graphic novel is the idea of a readers pace. Some readers get hung up on huge plot twists, and in a graphic novel can hang on the one image and give it sufficient time to sink in. In the movies this process all goes at one pace, from one viewer to the next the experience can be much different in terms of satisfaction. The element of interaction is removed from the film and we are just force-fed all that the movie has to offer. So interaction with a comic book is the heart of its strength and is what makes it worthy of attention.


3 thoughts on “The Watchmen

  1. You make great points about how the pace in the movies differ from the comic as well as the idea that different viewers expect to get different things out of the film. I’m a little unclear as to where you stand on the film adaptation. Do you think it was a good film adaptation? Or does your stance lie in the idea that “The element of interaction is removed from the film and we are just force-fed all that the movie has to offer.” which, I think would mean you didn’t care for the film?

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