“Watchmen” creator Alan Moore has spoken out again on the HBO adaptation of his 1980s graphic novel series.
Moore told GQ that, in a letter to him ahead of the production, the series creator admitted to “destroying” the original comic to bring it onscreen for the second time, following the 2009 Zack Synder film. Damon Lindelof was the showrunner for the HBO series.
Moore said he received “a frank letter from the showrunner of the ‘Watchmen’ television adaptation, which I hadn’t heard was a thing at that point. But the letter, I think it opened with, ‘Dear Mr. Moore, I am one of the bastards currently destroying Watchmen.’ That wasn’t the best opener,” Moore said. “It went on through a lot of, what seemed to me to be, neurotic rambling, ‘Can you at least tell us how to pronounce ‘Ozymandias’?’ I got back with a very abrupt and probably hostile reply telling him that I’d thought that Warner Brothers were aware that they, nor any of their employees, shouldn’t contact me again for any reason.”
Moore continued, “I explained that I had disowned the work in question, and partly that was because the film industry and the comics industry seemed to have created things that had nothing to do with my work, but which would be associated with it in the public mind. I said, ‘Look, this is embarrassing to me. I don’t want anything to do with you or your show. Please don’t bother me again.'”
Moore admitted that he “would be the last person to want to sit through any adaptations of my work.”
“From what I’ve heard of them, it would be enormously punishing,” Moore said. “It would be torturous, and for no very good reason.”
“Watchmen” went on to win 11 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and acting awards for series cast members Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Regina King.
“When I saw the television industry awards that the ‘Watchmen’ television show had apparently won, I thought, ‘Oh, god, perhaps a large part of the public, this is what they think ‘Watchmen’ was?'” Moore said of the disconnect between the content and its reception. “They think that it was a dark, gritty, dystopian superhero franchise that was something to do with white supremacism. Did they not understand ‘Watchmen’? ‘Watchmen’ was nearly 40 years ago and was relatively simple in comparison with a lot of my later work. What are the chances that they broadly understood anything since? This tends to make me feel less than fond of those works. They mean a bit less in my heart.”
Moore explained that “Watchmen” is a “critique of the superhero genre,” along with “Marvelman” (also known as “Miracleman”).
“They were trying to show that any attempt to realize these figures in any kind of realistic context will always be grotesque and nightmarish. But that doesn’t seem to be the message that people took from this,” Moore siad. “They seemed to think, uh, yeah, dark, depressing superheroes are, like, cool.”
“Watchmen” series creator Lindelof previously said he “went through a very intense period of terror of fucking it up” when it came to the adaptation. “I’m not entirely sure I’m out of that tunnel. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for this. I had to separate myself a little bit from this incredible reverence to take risks,” Lindelof said in 2019, via Entertainment Weekly, later saying he believed Moore “cursed” him for messing with the source material.