Watchmen TV show

HBO’s Watchmen TV series has been filming in Macon, Georgia for a little while now and the sets haven’t exactly been a secret. We’ve already seen some photographs of the alternate world the show is creating, which exists in the same superhero-filled and science fiction-tinged timeline we visited in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ rightfully iconic comic book miniseries.

But a /Film reader who lives in Macon snapped some new photos of the re-dressed city and what’s on display is…interesting. Very interesting. And especially interesting if you’re familiar with the source material. Naturally, these images should be considered potential spoilers until we know more, so consider this your one and only warning.

First off, it’s important to remember what this Watchmen show actually is. As showrunner Damon Lindelof explained in a lengthy and passionate letter last month, this is not an adaptation or a direct sequel. Rather, it is a new story set in the same universe, just decades later. As he explains, the world-altering events of Watchmen happened and are canon, even as the show moves on to new things. This is important to absorb before we look at these images, which suggest some some pretty wild events.

Here’s Lindelof:

We have no desire to ‘adapt’ the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created thirty years ago. Those issues are sacred ground and will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted. They will however be remixed. Because the bass lines in those familiar tracks are just too good and we’d be fools not to sample them. Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament. When the New Testament came along it did not erase what came before it. Creation. The Garden of Eden. Abraham and Isaac. The Flood. It all happened. And so it will be with Watchmen. The Comedian died. Dan and Laurie fell in love. Ozymandias saved the world and Dr. Manhattan left it just after blowing Rorschach to pieces in the bitter cold of Antarctica.

Okay. So let’s take a look.

The Death of Ozymandias

First, let’s talk about the big headline: “Veidt Officially Declared Dead.” This is clearly a reference to Adrian Veidt, better known to readers by his superhero moniker, Ozymandias. As you may recall, the Watchmen comic ended with Adrian faking an alien invasion, decimating New York City and killing countless people in service of…well, peace (the details of this ending were massively changed for Zack Snyder’s film adaptation). The threat of an external enemy ends the Cold War and the nuclear escalation between the United States and the Soviet Union as humanity comes together in the face of a new enemy. If Veidt is dead, did his secret die with him? And what become of Rorschach’s journal and its detailed explanation of everything that went down, last seen in the slush pile of a right-wing newspaper?

Of course, Veidt dying could inspire all kinds of repercussions in the Watchmen universe. He was a powerful businessman and the guy who secretly altered the fate of the human race and the planet. And another newspaper headline here suggests that he just couldn’t stop pulling the strings.

Note the headline to the right: “Boise Squid Shower Destroys Homeless Camp, Kills 2.” That reads a little like nonsense to the uninitiated, but the squid is a clear reference to the end of Watchmen, where Veidt’s fake alien invasion is personified by a giant squid monster. So, what is a “squid shower” and why is it killing innocent people? Now, it’s entirely possible that this is just a nonsensical in-joke built to fill out a fake newspaper in a TV show, but it could also suggest that Veidt had to keep up appearances. What if the fragile peace he created started to break? What if people needed reminding to stay in line and not start nuclear wars and end civilization? Would Veldt create smaller “squid” attacks to generate more fear and continue to enforce his fictional peace?

We’ll come back to this in just a moment.

Most of the other headlines are interesting, but feel more like traditional world-building. The senate voting on some kind of NASA plan. A headline about remembering Oklahoma City Bombing (mingling the real and the fantastical was a trademark of the comic, too).  The Statue of Liberty being closed following vandalism from white supremacists. It seems like the new Watchmen will hit many of the same notes as the original comic: yeah, superheroes exist, but everything still sucks.

Alien Invasion Shelters

This batch of photos suggests that Veidt’s sham alien invasion has worked wonders. The city streets are filled with signs depicting alien squid monsters, all to signify the locations of shelters. Fallout shelters are a relic of the Cold War, left behind in the new world Ozymandias buillt. But in their place are these new shelters, constructed to protect people from a nonexistent threat that scared the world powers into line. And maybe, as I suggested above, these shelters get used because smaller “attacks” keep on happening…

A New United States

We first saw photos the Red White & Blue cabs last week, but these images offer a close-up of something very interesting. The American flag on display is not the American flag we know. The stars have been redistributed, their layout modified. Of course, the layout of this flag has changed many times since 1776, but this change suggests that this United States, the United States of Watchmen, has found another drastic reason to alter its banner.

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