Watchmen: Corrupted Superheroes

Jameson's picture
Submitted by Jameson on Sat, 2009-03-07 14:49

*SPOILER ALERT* (though I'm not sure how one can spoil something so corrupted)

I'd say Amy beat me to the punch, but frankly her film review felt more like the slap of a damp ticket stub. This film is evil - so evil I don't want to spend any more time reviewing it than I need to, so I'll kick it off by cribbing IMdB's synopsis: "Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes."

Watchmen starts with a hiss and a roar, and a character we should like, Rorschach, hijacked from Steve Ditko's Objectivist comic book hero The Question. He is the moral heart of the film, a kick-ass vigilante who refuses to compromise his principles for anything or anyone. However, from the outset we're left to question Rorschach's motives: he's on a quest to find the killer of a fellow superhero, The Comedian, a sadistic sonofabitch who kills for laughs and violently rapes the mother of Jupiter the sexy superheroine. The more we learn about The Comedian the more we hate him, and the more we wonder why the fuck we should care he was assassinated. The moral ambiguities continue for 163 blood-splattering minutes, during which we see the slaughter of Lee Iacocca and a half dozen other 'greedy' giants of industry.

Turns out the bad guy is one of their own, Ozymandias, the brainiest and wealthiest of the lot. His plan is as evil as it is communist: leveling every major 'greedy' city on the planet with atomic bombs and providing energy to the world's survivors -- for free -- thereby destroying the menace of competition so the world may live in peace.

The director keeps tricking us into thinking the other superheroes are good by having them wipe out hordes of other scumbags as they dig deeper into the conspiracy ~ a trick because in the end he pulls the rug out from under us all. In the climatic battle Ozymandias proves too strong and too clever for Rorschach, Jupiter and her impotent lover The Night Owl. The one guy who could have saved the world is the irradiated Dr. Manhattan (a humourless and compassionless twerp who looks like he escaped from the Blue Man Group) but unfortunately he was sulking on Mars when the shit hit the fan and all the great cities were evaporated. When he finally turns up he discovers he's been framed for the destruction of civilisation, and accepts he has to shoulder the blame in order to prevent WWIII. It's here he makes his great moral choice, sparing the evil Ozymandias and murdering the uncompromising Rorschach who refuses to go along with the lie.

In the denouement we're left with Jupiter who corrupts herself by kissing goodbye her ambivalent ex-lover Dr. Manhattan, Jupiter's limp-dicked-second-choice-for-a-lover the Night Owl, a smarmy bad guy working for the greater good of humanity, and the bloody-ink-blotted guts of poor Rorschach splattered across the pure-driven snow.

My girlfriend and I were disgusted. Later on I overheard the theatre's barista saying to his mate, "Hey, dude, have you seen Watchmen?!! It's so cool - it's, like, the best!!"

Hey, dude, like, gag me with a latte spoon.


( categories: )

Ditko's Question

MichaelB's picture

If you want to read Ditko's original Question, you have a few options.

His Question ran as a backup in Blue Beetle #1-5 (Published by Charlton, written/drawn by Ditko). BB #5 is very interesting, as it has a 'sort of' teamup between BB & the Question in their stories, both of which had an Objectivist-theme (this is the original of the idea of BB & Q teaming up, which is seen in Watchmen as Nite Owl II & Rorschach teaming up).

The backup intended for BB #6 was combined with further work by Ditko and instead published as the one-shot "Mysterious Suspense". Its the only book-length Q story by Ditko.

DC reprinted Mysterious Suspense as a one-shot a few years back. You might be able to find it. You're only other chance of reading Ditko's Question is getting the expense "Action Heroes Archive v2" from DC, which has the rest of Ditko's super hero work (Captain Atom, and all his Blue Beetle and Question work).

Ditko's Mr. A character came soon after, as a Ditko-owned, more explicity Objectivist version of the Question. The earlier Mr. A. stories are hard to find, but are the most satisfying.

Other Ditko "Objectivist heroes" can be found in Static & The Mocker. Complete reprints of those characters can be obtained from Robin Snyder. And they have put out several new 32pg comics recently (about 4, with another coming, maybe more), with a variety of new heroes, and a new Mr. A. story.

No one shows...

Marcus's picture

...sorrow or anger at the death of Rorschach in the book.

"...by showing their sorrow and anger at his death..."

In fact, all the other charcters only show scorn towards Rorschach for the entire story. The reason Nite Owl gives for freeing Rorschach from prison is that he might have some information they need. Laurie does not disguise her hatred of him at all.

"You're absolutely right, Jameson, [moral ambivalence] is evil."

Jameson's picture

"Problem is, the story was in no way ambivalent toward the portrayal of said acts, was it?"

Watchmen in its total is completely ambivalent towards evil. Alan Moore leaves the entire story in an inconclusive moral mess, handing it over to the audience to study his twisted Rorschach test. For you and I there may only be one good guy in the story - Rorschach - but make no mistake, the author does his best to ensure his other protagonists, Jupiter and Nite Owl, are good guys till the bitter end: first by piling on their Brownie points before the demise of Rorschach, then by showing their sorrow and anger at his death, and finally by letting us see them keeping the secret and living happily ever after, fighting the bad guys in their new superhero identities.

A morality tale leaves no doubt in our minds. Moore doesn't give a shit.

Thanks Joe...

Marcus's picture

"Actually, Moore said that WATCHMEN was "unfilmable."

Supposedly when Terry Gilliam asked Moore how he would make the film, Moore replied "I wouldn't." He refused to be credited on the films 'Watchman' or 'V for Vendetta' or take any royalties from them.

Although Moore thought the film 'V for Vendetta' was crappy, he was glad that it made his character of 'V' popular amongst the youth.

I doubt he will have similar thoughts about 'the Watchman' film though.

Pirate Story

Jmaurone's picture

 Marcus, off the top of my head: Tales of the Black Freighter was NOT in the movie, except briefly shown at the newsstand at the end (where the white guy and black kid are standing together.) It is released as a separate cartoon, straight to DVD, but may be re-integrated into the movie on the DVD release.

 The purpose? Well, WATCHMEN is a deconstruction of superhero comics, so it was included partly in that capacity, not directed at Ozymandius, being larger in scope. In a world where costumed superheroes exist (and are reviled), there's be no "demand" for fantastic superhero comics. So, in this alternate reality, where Nixon is still president, pirate tales ARE(gh) the new superhero comics. (...sorry, couldn't resist.) Why pirates, though? Again, as deconstruction, it goes back to comics history. Before superheroes were the standard, there were romance, cowboy, horror, pulps, and pirate stories. Moore felt that "the imagery of the whole pirate genre is so rich and dark that it provided a perfect counterpoint to the contemporary world of Watchmen."

That's the key, comics as allegory.

  The story of THE BLACK FREIGHTER  reflects, once again, on the idea of "who watches the watchmen?" The issue "Marooned" "chronicles a castaway's increasingly desperate attempts to return home to warn his family of the impending arrival of the Black Freighter, a phantom pirate ship which houses the souls of the damned. To escape the deserted island he uses the gas-bloated bodies of his former crewmates to float a raft, fending off sharks en route; to infiltrate the (supposedly) pirate-controlled Davidstown, he murders a trusting couple and returns dressed in the man's clothing; to save his family he attacks a night watchman who is patrolling the house. However, this watchman is actually his wife, and he soon realizes that there has been no attack and his efforts have only brought about his own destruction. The man returns to the beach to see the Black Freighter approaching, ready to claim the only life it truly desired - his. He boards eagerly."

 Since Moore was, in essence, trying to "kill off" the superhero genre, he was pointing up the danger of heroism. Easy enough to criticize, O'istly speaking, but there is a valid warning if heroism is disconnected from accountability and "objective" reality. Is the hero fighting evil giants, or windmills? Does the "hero" see true evil, or evil according to one's own flawed morality? Etc. Given all the anarchy discussion here lately, I think the biggest issue in the story is anarchy versus "watchmen." The irony is that Moore is an anarchist, but believes anarchy to be the "only moral system," as I've pointed out elsewhere. So then, the question becomes: how does Mr. Moore defend anarchy as black and white while ripping apart Rand, Ditko, and Rorschach for being...black and white? 

 The pirate story itself is meant to be a parallel parable to the main plot, if you look at the moral. But aside from the content, Moore wanted to show off what the comics medium could do, in contrast to novels and film. Actually, Moore said that WATCHMEN was "unfilmable." (Well, it is, without cutting it all up.) But in the comic, you can have "tales within tales," and take your time, backtrack from back to front to see how earlier events connect, etc. while the film forces you to go along at "24 frames per second." Being a hybrid of visual art and literature, however, you can stop on a frame in a comic and absorb the visuals, suspending the story, and pick up nuances, etc. (You can do strange things with the panels themselves, with the shapes, pacing, even breaking the panels themselves, things you can't really do with film...but I'm geeking out here, ahem...).

...A SHOW OF HANDS: A Cautionary Tale of Heroes in Exile...

I feel...

Marcus's picture

...I should stand up to defend the book a bit here.

If you are looking for something that promotes pro-Libertarian/ Objectivist values then this is not it.

However, it doesn't mean the story is shit - despite all its flaws and there are many.

As Jeremy said it is a story that does make you think about where you stand and for that it should be applauded. If Moore had really tried to push a point that Ozzymandis/ Nite Owl were morally correct - then it would be evil.

However, (despite his own philosophy) Moore leaves it open to interpretation - allowing the Libertarian/ Objectivist to take from it what he or she wants (leftist pomowanks too unfortunately).

This is a strength of the story (in our case), and the story is well-executed. Of course, as I said, this means it is not specifically pro-values - but neither does it force the reader to negate those values either.

By the way, can anyone tell me why the parallel pirate story was in there (was it an oblique criticism of Ozzymandis?) and if it was included in the film or not?

Well....

Jeremy's picture

You're absolutely right, Jameson, it is evil.  Problem is, the story was in no way ambivalent toward the portrayal of said acts, was it?  Those bad acts were shown in a bad light, despite the quotes you've dropped about or by Moore. 

Or are we just context-dropping like a motherfucker here and pretending it ain't happening? 

You clearly don't want to like this story; I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I've said what I think the tale was about, the essence of it, and that should be enough. The book is widely available, especially now, for everyone to make up their own minds, which I encourage them to do if the depth of the analysis here is going to be: "pomo-wankery-commie-blah-blah".

How about some perspective?!

Jameson's picture

"It's not as if Moore's protaganists (or villians) run around raping grannies and killing babies..."

No, you're right - he has them running around raping one another and killing the best of them in cold blood. Moral ambivalence isn't a flaw, Jeremy - it's fucking evil.

[He] sought to show heroes

Jeremy's picture

[He] sought to show heroes in an ambivalent light: "What we wanted
to do was show all of these people, warts and all. Show that even the
worst of them had something going for them, and even the best of them
had their flaws."

Yeah, that's what I said in my post, Jameson, in other words. 

But he wasn't talking about anal warts.  He meant flaws.  See?  He even used the word.  Flaws.  Do flaws in a hero automatically negate his hero status?  According to some, yes.  I say no.

It's not as if Moore's protaganists (or villians) run around raping grannies and killing babies, singing about moist vaginas, and then Moore expects us to praise them for it.   How about some perspective?

Watchmen expects you to make up your own mind, that's it. If one doesn't feel comfortable doing that in the context of the story, of course you won't like the book.  No mystery there.

Moral Grayness

Jameson's picture

By Moore's own admission, Watchmen is a pomo-deconstruction of the superhero folklore, written to cut them down to size... [He] sought to show heroes in an ambivalent light: "What we wanted to do was show all of these people, warts and all. Show that even the worst of them had something going for them, and even the best of them had their flaws."

In other words, wishy-washy pomo-wankery flailing in a sea of grey. Even Rorschach, the most black and white of the superheroes, has a face that's never fixed or defined. Moore steals the best parts of The Question and Mr. A and turns his hero into a psychiatric test for schizophrenics.

"... show all of these people, warts and all..."

Alan Moore is to story what Kurt Cobain was to music.

Jeremy

Jmaurone's picture

" I just like the graphic novel, and like the character Rorschach, and don't think it's fair to cast it as another lame piece of modern 'art' with lots of blood and moral relativism."

For the record, I appreciate the book and the movie. Not for its flaws, of course, but for its virtues (in the technical realm, and for the attempt to raise ethical questions in a medium that was looked down upon as kid's stuff...similar to Moore's reluctant admiration of Steve Ditko.) in the spirit of Rand, "It's a great work of art-but I don't like it." 

.....A SHOW OF HANDS: A Cautionary Tale of Heroes in Exile.......

Since you asked...

Jeremy's picture

To me, Watchmen was about a United States--and in the background, a world--in which people actually have dressed up in funny outfits and tried to do some good in their own ways. 

Often they flailed and failed, and fought amongst themselves; there were never any pithy one-liners and or emotionally shallow, brawny bad boys to wield them--just regular people trying to do heroic things. And on the whole they were happy doing it, no matter the mockery and punishment and ostracization they faced. 

But eventually they fell from grace, and had doubts and felt embarassment and isolation, and this just made Watchmen all the better: it showed there was a cost to putting yourself out there so completely, totally; a price to be paid for giving so much of yourself and not expecting reward or gratitude or at least some damn respect and privacy. 

It was a unique take on the superhero-cookie-cutter industry that had dominated the comic book world up to that point, and an interesting read.

That's what I got from Watchmen.  I can't say it's what Moore intended to write, but it's what I enjoyed.

 

Then, Jeremy

Jameson's picture

what is the point - or the theme - of Watchmen?

Whoever these people are

Jeremy's picture

Whoever these people are that think Rorschach is some Objectivist hero, I'm not one of them.  I don't recall using the words Objectivism, Rand, John Galt or whatever else in this thread....lemme check....nope.  I just like the graphic novel, and like the character Rorschach, and don't think it's fair to cast it as another lame piece of modern 'art' with lots of blood and moral relativism. 

It's not Atlas Shrugged, no one said it is, Rorschach isn't John Galt, no one said he was.  If they did, they're wrong.

Jameson,  So the point of Watchmen is...bad shit happens, which sucks, but there ya go.

No, that isn't the point at all.  But bad shit can happen in a good story.

Further,

What disgusted me was that Rorschach was
sacrificed at the hands of one so-called superheroes, and that his
death was not avenged by the other so-called superheroes. The real evil
in this story isn't Ozymandias (he at least remained true to his
principles) - it's that big blue murdering prick, Dr. Manhattan, and
his useless sidekicks who turned a blind eye and were seen to live
happily ever after.

That disgusted me as well, but I never really saw any of them except Rorschach as a hero.  I actually sort of expected it from the rest of them, and Moore.   Rorschach was the only non-coward in a world of cowards, and died for it. Did you ever once see him hesitate, prevaricate, or doubt himself and his abilities? He was no clean-cut saintly Objectivist hero--because I sincerely doubt Moore could manage to write one or want to--but he was a hero.

You kidding me?  I was friggin pissed!  (But the diary revelation made me shake my fist in almost-victory at the bastards.)

No doubt...

Jmaurone's picture

This is old hat to longtime Objectivist comic book fans (this is over 20 years old!) but since the movie is bringing WATCHMEN to the attention of the general population, with some confusion on where Moore stands in relation to his story: Moore intended the 9-panel layout to provide an unemotional frame, meaning he wanted to present the contrasting ideas "objectively," without manipulating the reader to his point of view. Whether he did so honestly or not, he does not hide his true view: 

"I have to say I found Ayn Rand's philosophy laughable. It was a 'white supremacist dreams of the master race,' burnt in an early 20th-century form. They seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority." 

 (Did you wonder why Rorschach was a red-head?). 

 

...A SHOW OF HANDS: A Cautionary Tale of Heroes in Exile....

Marcus, I can't say where

Bosch Fawstin's picture

Marcus, I can't say where you can read The Question online, but there are likely a page or two on the internet somewhere. I don't think Ditko has worked on the character for decades, but issues are available to buy, you probably can find some stores you can order online. The one thing I will say about The Question comics I read is that while I may agree with what the character says and does, I do recall seeing The Question literally giving the bad guys lessons in moral philosophy, while literally knocking sense into them with his fists. I would have much preferred a far better integration between philosophy and action, but it was a great thing to see a comic book character say and do things which were considered controversial at the time because they were so morally ruthless.

And I don't think Moore would want to entertain the question I posed, about which character he would most relate to. We all naturally relate to one character above any other in any story, regardless if we're conscious of it or not.

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Rorschach's death as a morally ambiguous footnote?

Amy Peikoff's picture

Marcus,

I don't think we can take Dr. Manhattan's talking to Rorschach, before he kills him, as evidence of moral ambiguity.  True, Dr. Manhattan knows the future and probably knows he's going to kill Rorschach.  But, logical or not, Dr. Manhattan plays along with all the steps between what he is doing now, and what he knows he's going to do in the future.  Call it not wanting to interfere with humans' sense of time?  I don't know.

Crazy example that occurred to me: at some point Dr. Manhattan must have known he was going to sleep with Laurie Jupiter.  But I bet he didn't just force himself on her the moment he saw her.  Also, in the movie at least, Dr. Manhattan returns to Earth, tells Laurie they are going to have a conversation on Mars, etc., but then still goes through with all of it.  Why go through all that if he already knows what the outcome will be?

 

Amy

 

The Question

Marcus's picture

Can I still read the Question Bosch, is it available on the internet or in comic shops?

"...which leads my mind to consider which character he does relate to."

I'm not sure he would relate to any of them. As he often says, he was imagining comic-book heroes living in the 'real' world as a sort of pastiche. In one interview he claims to have ripped off many of the ideas for it from MAD comics, which was the predecessor of MAD magazine.

Marcus, I never wrote that

Bosch Fawstin's picture

Marcus, I never wrote that you *hated* the book/movie or Rorschach, what I did write was:
If you don't like the book or movie, fine, but your need to devalue its strongest character is pushing it.
Rorschach is meant to be Moore's twisted version of Ditko's The Question, which was Ditko's attempt at creating an Objectivist comic book hero, so the connection can't help but be made, whether it's a valid one or not. Rorschach only exists as he is because of The Question and Moore's deconstruction needed a construct.
Here's a Reason Magazine take on this connection,
Rorschach Doesn't Shrug
It's suspect, as it refers to Rorschach as an 'Objectivist Saint', and it likely shares with Moore the desire for Rorschach as written to represent Objectivism. Also, not quite a side note, but I did read where Moore said that he did not want to spoon feed people about the conflicting ideologies in his book, that we should make up our own minds about it, about where we individually stand, but then he couldn't help but make it clear that we 'should' see Rorschach as insane. So the one character who was murdered because he could not stay quiet about the mass murder of innocent human beings is insane according to Moore, but no such thing is said by Moore about the mass murderer himself. Moore is clearly not on the side of the only character worth a damn in the book, which leads my mind to consider which character he does relate to.

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Bosch...

Marcus's picture

...I don't hate the Rorschach character, nor do I even hate the book.

He's just not the Objectivist/ Libertarian hero people are making him out to be.

Let's keep things honest

Bosch Fawstin's picture

Let's keep things honest here by posting the scene in question:

*SPOILER*

Marcus wrote:

'Based on the book:
It is shown that Jon initially wants to talk to Rorschach, but Rorschach simply screams to 'kill him'. Now, it was clear from the story, that if Jon thought something should be done, he would just do it.
He is not a character to chat just for the hell of it before killing someone.'

Jeremy wrote:

'....Rorschach screamed at Jon to kill him because he wasn't a fool; he knew there was no chance he could get away and tell the world the truth, not against Dr. Manhattan, and didn't want to listen to any more rationalizations from Jon or anyone else. 'Just do it, you fuck'. He wasn't sacrificing himself for the greater good, just getting it over with.'

Here's the scene, you be the judge as to who gets it right:

*SPOILER*


If you don't like the book or movie, fine, but your need to devalue its strongest character is pushing it.

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Damn, Marcus

Jameson's picture

this evil piece of pomo-anarcho-commie bullshit gets more nihilistic by the minute! If you're right (and you certainly make an excellent case) then the only noble element in this story - Rorschach's uncompromising, unrelenting thirst for justice - disappears in a Mad Hatter blood-splattered tatter too... l: /

Not so fast, Jeremy

Marcus's picture

"Rorschach's death was not, no matter how it's spun by some people, intended to be a morally ambiguous footnote."

I don't think that is clear at all.

Based on the book:

It is shown that Jon initially wants to talk to Rorschach, but Rorschach simply screams to 'kill him'. Now, it was clear from the story, that if Jon thought something should be done, he would just do it.

He is not a character to chat just for the hell of it before killing someone.

Also after Jon kills Rohrschach, he tells Ozzymandis he is leaving because he has lost interest in humanity. Now, he must of 'cared' about humanity up until the point he killed Rorschach. Why else would he have bothered to do it?

Put this all together and you have a strong case that Rorschach wanted to die instead of Jon trying to talk him out of it. After Jon realized that is what Rorschach wanted - he killed him - but became disillusioned with the whole thing afterwards.

If you want more confirmation, just listen to what Moore says about watchman on the clip I posted on the other thread.

Moore says - 'here was someone with a king-sized death wish who was in constant psychological torment and pain'.

You can't be much more obvious that that now, can you?

By the way, Jeremy

Jameson's picture

"If you were disgusted that (Rorschach) died and that bad men won the day, the intended goal has been achieved..."

What disgusted me was that Rorschach was sacrificed at the hands of one so-called superhero, and that his death was not avenged by the other so-called superheroes. The real evil in this story isn't Ozymandias (he at least remained true to his principles) - it's that big blue murdering prick, Dr. Manhattan, and his useless sidekicks who turned a blind eye and were seen to live happily ever after.

So the point of "Watchmen" is

Jameson's picture

... bad shit happens, which sucks, but there ya go.

Wow. Deep.

black or white, that is the question

sharon's picture

 

Even still, Jeremy, your sense of life might be suspect. ;]

 

 

What?

Jeremy's picture

I think my opinion is clear without saying outright that this is the best graphic novel I've ever read next to Preacher, but I'll go ahead and say it if theres some mysterious test one must pass:  This is the best graphic novel I've ever read next to Preacher

 It has flaws, but I don't really give a shit.  I don't live my life by graphic novels, do I?

*crams homemade Nite-Owl mock-up back into closet*

 Sheesh, no wonder you missed Watchmen's point.  Sticking out tongue

Jameson

sharon's picture

Are you saying you liked this piece of evil shit, Jeremy - or not?

While Jeremy bides his time, trying to figure out how best to answer that question (while sitting in the tribal hot seat), what if he did like it…or  any body else here for that matter?

 

 

Ambivalence prevails...

Jameson's picture

Are you saying you liked this piece of evil shit, Jeremy - or not?

All it takes for evil to prevail....

Jeremy's picture

There seems to be a big misunderstanding here--or just ignoring the facts to conform to our bad opinion of the loony-bin Moore and lefty artistes in general.  Rorschach's death was not, no matter how it's spun by some people, intended to be a morally ambiguous footnote. 

Rorschach was the star of Watchmen, was the most sympathetic character of them all despite his myriad flaws and obvious sociopathy.  His death was portrayed in a bad light, not an 'Oh well it had to be done,' tone.  If you were disgusted that he died and that bad men won the day, the intended goal has been achieved: a good man has tried to do something, and died for it, and you are supposed to be pissed off.  I don't think Moore or the movie were simply saying meh about Rorschach's death. 

Bad and sad things happen in life, and I fully reject the idea that bad and sad things have no place in art, especially when the artist pretty much tells you for 200 pages straight that he isn't celebrating those bad things, but saying, 'This is what would happen in this particular alternate world.  It sucks, but there ya go.  If there was a man like Rorschach, and a superman like Dr. Manhattan, this is what would happen.'

Also, Rorschach screamed at Jon to kill him because he wasn't a fool; he knew there was no chance he could get away and tell the world the truth, not against Dr. Manhattan, and didn't want to listen to any more rationalizations from Jon or anyone else.  'Just do it, you fuck'. He wasn't sacrificing himself for the greater good, just getting it over with. 

 

A few things, Marcus

Amy Peikoff's picture

In the movie, Night Owl goes after Osymandias both before and after Rorschach's death.  But it's clear in the movie at least that neither Night Owl nor Laurie are capable of killing Ozymandias.  Ozymandias is just too quick and strong for them.  Remember, Night Owl and Laurie are just regular people with a few gadgets -- no superpowers. (Perhaps Ozymandias has used all that science he's studied to enhance his strength and agility?)  Dr. Manhattan was the only one capable of killing Ozymandias and, unfortunately, he was taken in by Ozymandias's argument and decided, instead of killing Ozymandias, to prevent Rorschach from telling the truth to the world.

And yes, Night Owl and Laurie continue to be masked heroes at the end of the movie, and yeah, I also got the impression that Night Owl got his self esteem from fighting crime.

Finally, the movie does leave the viewer wondering whether publication of Rorschach's journal could undo Ozymandias's scheme.  Perhaps there will be a sequel to argue about someday...

"... left-wing intellectual wank-fest?"

Jameson's picture

Exactly, Marcus - nicely analyzed!

Yeah, in the film Nite Owl gets it up again, but he's still a limp-dick for letting Ozymandias live. And yeah, Rorschach 'asks' for it in the end, but it's in the manner of Breaker Morant screaming, "Shoot straight you bastards!!" at his execution.

There are so many ambiguities throughout the story that I don't think one can say with any conviction that Rorschach's diary would have outed the truth. In fact, given Alan Moore's penchant for irony and hatred of Ditko's/Rand's black and white world, if he had spun it out to its full conclusion, I bet he'd write it so that Rorschach's diary disappeared into the grey. The fact he's left it open for interpretation is almost evidence enough.

I've just finished the book...

Marcus's picture

...I haven't seen the film, though most say it follows the book closely. However, it must have differences - because some of the things mentioned didn't happen.

Such as...

"The first thing he did after Rorschach's death was go to beat up Ozymandias."

In the book he tries this before Roscharch’s death, not after.

"Jupiter's limp-dicked-second-choice-for-a-lover the Night Owl, a smarmy bad guy working for the greater good of humanity, and the bloody-ink-blotted guts of poor Rorschach splattered across the pure-driven snow."

Nite Owl gets his self-esteem back by fighting crime again...and in the book it is shown that both he and Laurie are continuing to be masked heroes with new identities at the end of the book.

Also I think Moore was trying to suggest in the end that the whole thing might be blown apart by Roscharch's diary.

What I think about the story is this:

It's written by a pro-Anarchist lefite type peacenik - at a time when the cold-war existed and people often did think Armageddon was on its way.

So imagine what the impact would have been of reading this at the time? It has a lefty-peacenik ending, but it had to come at the price of death and destruction.

Think how impressed all the lefty intellectuals would have been with all this moral ambiguity?

Death and destruction leads to peace. A moral character must be sacrificed for the greater good. However perhaps he is redeemed?

One last moral ambiguity to ponder is that in the book it seems that Roscharch actually asks Jon to kill him. Did he or didn't he? For the greater good?

How's that for a left-wing intellectual wank-fest?

Excuse me, DOCTOR Morally Corrupt Manhattan

Jameson's picture

"... though Rorschach gets the last laugh via his diary left for the newspaperman--he beats Ozymandias in the end after all, but gives his life for it"

This is not established. The editor of the newspaper laments that there's no news because peace prevails over the earth (*cough-bullshit-splutter*) and tells his fat-arse underling to check the "Crank File", in which he finds Rorschach's diary. All this newspaper is likely to do is create a "Truffer Conspiracy" -- and even though it's only a graphic novel, I don't doubt Sharon would swallow it like a hungry frog after a fly.

"The positive: Snyder, the producers and the art director should be commended for creating a visually impressive movie..."

Yeah, so were Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda films.

Scott, Zack Snyder said that

Bosch Fawstin's picture

Scott, Zack Snyder said that The Dark Knight Returns is his favorite comic book story and he'd love to do it, even got Frank Miller's blessing, but did mention that if it ever does happen that it'll likely come after Nolan is done with the character. It's my favorite as well, and that would truly be something to see on the screen. If I were Warner Brother's, that would be the perfect way to go after Nolan leaves.

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Uh, Jameson...

atlascott's picture

"...and Mr. Manhattan."

He didn't spend 4 years in a physics doctoral program to be called "Mr."...give that great blue bastard his due!

Too bad he didn't read any Rand before being atomized.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Watchmen - Just Terrible

atlascott's picture

**SOME SPOILERS**

I just saw it last night. I bought the graphic novel and read it a month or two ago.

The positive: Snyder, the producers and the art director should be commended for creating a visually impressive movie, and the special effects were great. It was about as close a re-creation of the graphic novel as one could hope for. The casting and makeup people were phenomenal--the actors were well cast and were virtual spitting images of the comic book characters--and the acting was uniformly impressive. Especially impressive are Rorschach and Nite Owl. The Rorschach character was the closest to a moral and reasonable center, though clearly Nite Owl is ~intended~ to be the moral center of the film.

The negative: the Sense of Life of the film, the confused, attenuated plot, the gratuitous violence (to no purpose), the evil billionaire capitalist (the only one in the film with ambition beside a no-longer-human godlike being), the fact that evil won in the guise of good (though Rorschach gets the last laugh via his diary left for the newspaperman--he beats Ozymandias in the end after all, but gives his life for it) Overall, I DO NOT understand why the graphic novel is so heralded. The art is mediocre, the writing okay, the plot, flawed.

It is time for The Dark Knight Returns to be made--this film exposes the naked fact that technology has arrived to do it properly, and the world is ready for the message. Batman in Dark Knight Returns is essentially very similar to Rorschach but the story is damning of politicians, pop culture, and is one of the most affirming individualist stories ever written.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Amy

Jameson's picture

You don't have to be a professional movie reviewer to post a review, but I'll accept your post wasn't a review.

You're possibly right about Rorschach's motive, though it begs the question why someone with such uncompromising principles would be associated with a complete bastard like the Comedian.

Night Owl was metaphorically and literally impotent. First he couldn't get it up (due to his lack of self-esteem) then he couldn't take the bad guy down (due to a lack of strength and intelligence). At the very least he was a pragmatist who betrayed truth, but I think he was worse than that... he let Ozymandias live - as did his morally corrupt compatriots Jupiter and Mr. Manhattan.

Welcome to SOLO, Miss Tigerhead l: )

Jameson's picture

Disgusted might be too strong a word for how she felt, but I know for sure she was disturbed, disappointed and dismayed by Rorschach's murder at the hands of one of the so-called good guys. She may have even been mildly disgusted, as she should be by such a 'twisted' act.

Indeed, it was a complete cliche that the rich businessmen once again took the rap for the evil-doing in a work of fiction; they have become common foils in these days of the tall poppy-cutting anti-industrialists.

Sadly I think you are giving the great unthinking, great unwashed too much credit.

  i doubt your

katietigerhead's picture

 

i doubt your girlfriend was that disgusted jameson. 

i have to say though that when dr manhatten killed rorschach, that was the most, in my opinion, evil act of all. gez they're both ment to be good guys and instead of killing the bad bad richman Ozymandias (which is a complete cliche, 'the evil millionaire' go figure) he instead kills the most moral character. how twisted is that? 

i think your review was good btw amy, i think jameson obviously just had a different type of review in mind but it is surprising how similar the darknight AND Watchmen are. 

anyway, the graphics and special effects were really good in this and unfortunately the general public are only going to see that and maybe people wont realise how morally fucked watchmen are..? or am i not giving enough credit to the people? 

In the book, Rorschach does

Bosch Fawstin's picture

In the book, Rorschach does show admiration for The Comedian, saying that out of all the Watchmen, he had 'staying power', describing him as a 'forceful personality. Didn't care if people liked him. Uncompromising.' He went on, saying that he understood 'things everyone knows in their gut. Things everyone to scared to face, too polite to talk about.'
And Rorschach liked him on terms he can relate to, he may not even have been privy to all of the horrible things he did, but I think that if Rorschach really thought about it, he would see that the Comedian was a government dog, doing whatever his paymasters told him to do, unlike him, who challenged the government every time he put on his mask and took down evil.

Also, while Mr. A and The Question are essentially interchangeable, Rorschach was technically meant to be The Question, as Dr. Manhattan was an offshoot of Captain Atom, Night Owl being The Blue Beetle, etc....Each character had their base in another character published by Charlton Comics which were originally intended for what became Watchmen.

http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

My post wasn't a review

Amy Peikoff's picture

As I said, I am not a professional movie reviewer...nor do I play one on TV.  So I don't think it's fair to evaluate my post as a movie review.  Wet ticket stub indeed!

For what it's worth, I believe Rorschach's motive for finding the Comedian's killer was simply to prevent the other watchmen from suffering the same fate.  I doubt he had any special affection for the lowlife, especially because Rorschach was more judgmental about the sorts of things the Comedian did than were any of the other characters.  And I don't think any of them cared for the Comedian.

I also don't think Night Owl was quite as bad as you made him out to be.  The first thing he did after Rorschach's death was go to beat up Ozymandias.  No, not as good as resolving to tell the truth himself, even on pain of death, as Rorschach did.  But not completely wimpy, either.

Superlativehero

Jameson's picture

Thanks, Wayne... Mr. A does indeed appear to be the principle source for Alan Moore's fascist corruption, Rorschach.

I doubt we'll ever see a movie about Ditko's guy: "Mr. A's name comes from "A is A", a popular way to represent the Law of Identity as used in logic and philosophy, often by Ayn Rand in particular."

Alan Moore discusses Steve Ditko

Wayne Simmons's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Not to split hairs here but I believe it's Mr A and not the later creation of Ditko, The Question, that is the source for Rorschach. According to, Allan Moore, that is what, Steve Ditko, thought.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.