How the Original Watchmen Heroes Will Appear in Damon Lindelof's New HBO Series
Damon Lindelof is careful to not call his new Watchmen series a sequel. Instead, it's more of a continuation of the universe, a remix of the themes and characters of the original. And though the main protagonist of the original comics is dead—Rorschach was vaporized in the end of the Watchmen series—that doesn't mean all the characters we've loved for decades are gone for good.
Instead, he says we will see some of the original characters—Doctor Manhattan, Laurie Juspeczyk, Daniel Dreiberg, and Adrian Veidt—on screen in some capacity.
“We're married to certain things that the canon put out, like Vietnam is a state, or that Robert Redford was running for president against Nixon, or that Adrian Veidt dropped an enormous fake alien being in the middle of Manhattan that killed three million people. That is a 9/11-like event. What does 30 years after something like that happens, what does the world look like?” Lindelof told me in a interview for Esquire's November issue. “You can’t just do that in passing reference.”
As Lindelof explains, the original 12 comics are treated as canon in his new HBO series. That means the alternate ending of Zack Snyder's 2009 movie never happened—nor did the events of the Doomsday Clock comics, the ongoing DC series that began in 2017 and will conclude with a final issue in December.
"Doomsday Clock is overlapping with the DC Universe and the DC Universe characters, Superman, and Batman," Lindelof says. "So we didn't want to touch that with a 10 foot pole."
In early trailers, we've already seen an aged Adrian Veidt living in solitude after preventing nuclear war by murdering half of Manhattan. We've also seen echoes of Doctor Manhattan, who left Earth in the end of the Watchmen comics to live on Mars. So what happened to Juspeczyk and Dreiberg, who took on different identities and started a new life together? Given Lindelof's response, it seems likely we'll check in with them in some way or another.
Beyond that, Lindelof's series picks up nearly four decades after the original comics ended. Robert Redford has been president for about 20 years and the Supreme Court is stacked with Left-leaning judges. And yet, even in a liberal-controlled country, bigotry remains: A white-supremacist group known as the 7th Kalvary has co-opted the idea of Rorschach. Oscar-, Golden Globe-, and Emmy-winning actress Regina King stars as the lead masked vigilante, who is—like Rorschach before her—trying to solve a gruesome murder.
In Lindelof's Watchmen, the lead characters are all new, while the original heroes exist in history. Their accomplishments and failures are left to inform the basis of the show.
HBO's Watchmen series debuts October 20.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.