BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – The “Watchmen” have new things to worry about in 2019.
HBO’s new adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel “Watchmen” isn’t set in the 1980s setting of the original source material, but rather in an alternate version of 2019, one in which Robert Redford has been president since the 1990s, police officers wear masks and there is no Internet.
And the central conflict had to change because the era did, as creator Damon Lindelof (“The Leftovers,” “Lost”) explained to the Television Critics Association Wednesday.
“When I started to think about what ‘Watchmen’ was going to be, trying to think about it in the original source material, the book was highly political,” he says. “What in 2019 is the equivalent of the nuclear standoff between Russia and the U.S.? It felt like it was undeniably race and policing in America.”
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Regina King in "Watchmen." (Photo: HBO)
In the new series, due in October, a white supremacist group is seen killing and persecuting the police, including a former officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, played by Regina King. But that dynamic isn’t reflected in the real world, and, as one reporter pointed out, seemed in direct conflict with the current issues of race and law enforcement. Lindelof says he specifically wanted to create a new version of 2019 for his series.
“It’s not supposed to be a world you recognize. We’re using alternate history, science fiction, popular fiction to Trojan-Horse themes that are prevalent in the real world in a fictional one,” he says. “This is the jumping-off point. And if you’re asking, are the police presented in a heroic light, are they supposed to be the heroes of this story? … I think the answer is most certainly no.”
Damon Lindelof of 'Watchmen' speaks during the HBO segment of the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association Press Tour. (Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Lindelof also doesn’t claim the series is going to solve the race problem in America anytime soon.
“There are no easy answers, there are no grandiose solutions,” he says. “In a traditional superhero movie, the (good) guys are fighting the aliens, and when they beat the aliens, the aliens go back to their planet and everybody wins. There’s no defeating white supremacy, it’s not going anywhere, but it felt like it was a pretty formidable foe.
“This show is trolling the white savior.”
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