Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ limited series of comic books was published by DC Comics in 1987 to great reviews and booming sales. In 2009, Zach Snyder adapted the graphic novel collection into a movie for Warner Bros., which was met with mixed critical reaction and middling box office returns, given its budget.
Lindelof is under an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television, but the HBO series is not expected to be connected to the film. In 2015, it was reported that HBO was interested in making a “Watchmen” series with Zach Snyder, but nothing developed beyond a meeting between the network and director. Lindelof is expected to start over, rather than adapt any pre-existing scripts.
“Watchmen” has long been considered a tricky project to bring to screens. The comics’ story focuses on an alternate timeline where superheroes change the course of human history. After emerging in the ’40s, superheroes helped the United States win the Vietnam War, but the Watergate scandal was never brought to light and Nixon remained president through the early ’80s. By 1985, when the story primarily takes place, the U.S. is headed toward World War III (against the Soviet Union) and superheroes are outlawed. Some have retired, while others are working for the government.
Functioning as a serious, dramatic story, “Watchmen” deconstructs the traditional superhero comics that preceded it. During an investigation into the murder of a superhero, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and more superheroes uncover a massive government conspiracy.
The original comics covered just 12 issues, telling a complete story, but there’s no word so far as to whether the HBO series will be an ongoing property or a limited series. Lindelof has made it known in the past that he’s a proponent of shorter series with definitive end dates.