Two days ago, I had a hard-on as big as Dr Manhattan’s giant blue wang over Damon Lindelof’s Instagram post. It all but confirmed he was working on a Watchmen series but now HBO have officially confirmed they’ve ordered a pilot and back up scripts.
To say I was over the moon was an understatement, but why is my writing guru such a good fit for adapting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel?
Well for starters, Lindelof loved the source material as a kid, reading each installment as it came out week-by-week in 1985, later calling it “The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced.”
The comics had a huge influence on him as a writer. He later said, “From the flashbacks to the non-linear storytelling to the deeply flawed heroes, these are all elements that I try to put into everything I write.”
Lindelof sure knows how to create stunning apocalyptic stories and how to write perhaps the most meaningful, bittersweet arcs for deeply flawed characters ever written. I still spend about 40% of each episode of Lost and The Leftovers in tears watching characters like Kevin Garvey, (Junior and Senior) Nora Durst, Matt Jamison, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, James “Sawyer” Ford and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes.
Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation contains wonderful imagery, but I’d rather go for directors like The Leftovers Mimi Leder who can win hearts and minds by taking us on deep, intricate journeys into the character’s stories.
Unlike Snyder, Lindelof also knows when a script warrants high-octane action or tender, reflective, empathic moments that cut through your soul like a hot, buttery knife and reduce you to a quivering wreck.
Watchmen simply cannot be packed into a three-hour director’s cut – it needs the dozens of hours that a series allows and Lindelof’s non-linear storytelling (which he learnt from comic panels) is perfect for this decade-hopping, universe-spannning saga.
In a 2009 interview, Lindelof had this to say about Snyder’s admirable yet flawed adaptaion. “I think it’s a very complicated question. You almost can’t judge the movie purely as a movie because of its relation to the fact that it is an adaptation of the graphic novel. That being said I think that Zack Snyder made the best possible movie adaptation considering the fact that he was really out to not revise things, the fans really wanted a literal adaptation…
“That’s exactly what he delivered. He delivered that with an incredible amount of grace and skill. But I think that, for those of us who basically said “How do you do Watchmen in a two and a half hour movie?” He has now answered: “This is how”. You just have to kind of leave it at that. Over time, I think history will basically tell whether the movie was brilliant or less than, but all I can say is how incredibly impressed I personally watching what Zack had accomplished.”
But the main reason he is the right man for the job is because, at its heart, Watchmen is an essay on our very existence – just like The Leftovers and Lost’s divisive and ultimately derided finalé successfully answered the most important question mankind has ever asked.
On top of Alan Moore’s already beautiful words, Lindelof has the whole of space, time, quantum and metaphysics, spirituality, religion and society to explore the meaning of life with flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways and I pray that HBO give him as many series as he needs to tell what he himself called the “The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced.”
Watchmen’s alternate reality World War 3 with the Soviet Union will hopefully arrive in 2019 unless Trump kicks it off sooner.