My take on Watchmen (2009)

Devonte Burrell, Writer


Image result for watchmen movieOne of the most underrated and underappreciated superhero movies, but deeper than most in the same genre is Watchmen. This movie is the first on screen adaptation of the famous graphic novel bearing the same name. The movie didn’t do as well as the directors and die hard fans had hoped, but in due time it would get its recognition and gain a cult.

The movie was released in American movie theaters on March 6th, 2009. It portrays a dark and gritty alternate timeline of American History. It shows us a somewhat realistic depiction of modern life if superheroes with no powers existed, and how that would affect our wars, laws, safety, and just our general way of life. Watchmen stands out like a sore thumb amongst its peers in the same superhero genre because it is rated R. There are only a handful of superhero movies who have been rated R in the past like Toxic Avenger, Blade, and DarkMan; but Watchmen is unlike all of those being that it is modern and gave superhero movies a refreshing new look in the late 2000s.

Watchmen is not your conventional superhero movie. It introduced me to philosophy at  a very young age. It makes you think by challenging your intelligence, morality, and character. The movie has no clear “villain”, or “hero”. Every character is a “grey area” character, they aren’t bad or good. For example, there’s a vigilante who wears a trench coat and a moving Rorschach mask named Rorschach. He is considered to be too violent and kills “the bad guys” whenever he feels necessary. He fought crime even after they banned superheroes and developed a personality disorder due to him constantly wearing the mask. It’s a good thing that he gets the bad guys off the streets of New York, but depending on where you stand, killing them could be moral or immoral. It’s up to you to decide whether Rorschach is a good guy or a bad guy.

The only character who has powers at all is Dr. Manhattan. The son of a watchmaker, he becomes a nuclear physicist and accidentally traps himself into a particle machine that violently rips the skin off of his body. This weird procedure turns him into a God-like person. In the movie he was used to win the Vietnam war which is a battle that America lost in real life. But Dr. Manhattan was guilted and peer pressured, by a nation who looked up to him, to use his immense powers to fight this war. Dr. Manhattan would later regret his decision because with just a single flick of his wrist he massacred thousands and thousands of soldiers all because President Nixon told him too. This lead to Dr. Manhattan straying further and further away from humanity; him being too powerful to be around people. This resulted in the audience having questions like, “Is fighting in war and using weapons of mass destruction necessary?” 

One of the numerous characters involved in Watchmen lore is Adrian Veidt. He sees that America and Russia are on the brink of nuclear war and decides that the best way to unite the two battling nations was to give them a common enemy. He creates a huge nuclear bomb that explodes in every major city in almost every country. He kills billions and billions of people in his plan to unite the world and blames it on Dr. Manhattan, who is also involved in the plan. Adrian Veidt killed a little less than a billion people to save over 7 billion people; so the philosophy of “Do the ends justify the means” and “Who watches the Watchers” plays a big role in the movie. 

I would give this movie a 10 out of 10. The movie explores ethical grey areas and asks you what you think is right or wrong. The movie has no villains or heroes, just like in real life. Everyone has a reason for why they did what they did and now it’s up to us as the audience and civilians to determine if what they did was wrong. Depending on where your morals land, the movie could have a different meaning and I find that amazing. The director, Zach Snyder, and the author of the graphic novel, Alan Moore, intertwine our history with the false history of the movie so effortlessly that it could be mistaken for actual history. The movie exposes the reader to different philosophical ideas while also giving entertaining action and love scenes. So go Watch the Watchmen.