Wednesday, October 14, 2015

17902--Is A Sequel Worth Destroying the World?

Spoiler alert: the "groundbreaking" Watchmen limited comic series (1986-1987) was already beyond relevance when finally adapted to film (2009).

Now, that's not to say the grim, gritty superhero intrigue isn't fun to watch and re-watch, man (sorry), but deconstructing comic book icons is even less striking in a post-antihero age than positing the notions of revised geopolitics and a multi-term Nixon administration.  Hell, in 2007, a fairly bright college student was asking me to explain the significance of "this Ayatollah Khomeni" she had never heard of outside her history class.

Beyond all that, including even Alan Moore's disowning of Zack Snyder's product, I guess I still have a lingering problem with the implications of the rewritten ending.  In the original, Adrian Veidt's machinations culminated in the psychic death scream of a genetically engineered octopus mutation fooling humanity into believing Earth was at risk from interdimensional invaders when the one-off creature exploded onto Times Square (a result of being on the business end of Veidt's technological approximation of Dr. Manhattan's powers).  The result of the mastermind's brilliant hoax, as he expected, was the world uniting to survive, albeit at the price of paranoia-fueled PTSD and a few deaths.  He didn't consider it a perfect solution, but one preferable to watching billions die in thermonuclear immolation.

In the movie, Adrian Veidt's altered plan completely sidesteps the genetic engineering aspects of the original and instead of using the research into Manhattan's powers to craft an unstable teleporter weaponizes the tech to create discrete intrinsic field subtraction effects in eighteen cities.  The destructive energy attacks kill millions and do tremendous damage around the world, rallying Earth against what they believe is a Dr. Manhattan who has turned against them.  When the immortal chooses to leave Earth behind, he also leaves the powerful technology with Veidt and the weight of what he has done to save the world from its political madness.

What doesn't appear to have been considered, though, is that it originally took Dr. Manhattan about a year to learn to control his energetic form and recreate a cohesive body for himself after being disintegrated.  Now, Veidt has recreated that original disintegration with millions of subjects.  Should even one or two of those torn apart as collateral damage find the focus to re-embody their consciousness, a real clash of superhumans could result.  What about dozens or hundreds or thousands of Manhattan-like superbeings bumping shoulders?  Even if they learned only a fraction of his mastery in their youth (remember, we saw Manhattan develop over decades from a man who started as a physicist to one who could reform his disintegrated body almost instantly), the potential impact theses newly empowered beings would easily have tremendous impact on a very tense world.

As of this month, there's been an announcement that a potential TV series set in the Watchmen world is being considered.  I guess we'll have to wait and see how they'll choose to burn it down.

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