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Watchmen: Damon Lindelof channels Doctor Manhattan in open letter to fans

Contributed by
May 22, 2018

Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Watchmen is just shy of its 10th birthday, but Damon Lindelof is already creating an HBO series based on the influential graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. That might inspire fear and unease in some, especially those fans who were let down by Lost and Prometheus.

That's why Lindelof has penned an open letter to Watchmen fans about the project, expertly mimicking Doctor Manhattan's non-linear first-person narration during the section devoted to his origin story in the comic. As Manhattan (originally Jon Osterman) was born to a humble watchmaker, his removal from the normal temporal space of humanity is a recurring motif throughout Watchmen that underscores his near-godhood after a lab accident leaves him blue and omnipotent. 

Since the letter is several pages and many paragraphs long, we won't post the entire text here, but it does start off with:

 "Hello, there. My name is Damon Lindelof and I am a writer. I am also the unscrupulous bastard currently defiling something you love ... But that's not all I am."

Lindelof continues on, detailing how he came to love the graphic novel as a kid and how he finally, as a Hollywood big shot, got the chance to adapt it himself. He also recounts his father's death, his Razzie nomination for Prometheus, and how tenets of Orthodox Judaism embodies two of his refusals to adapt the graphic novel over the years.

The letter is certainly written by someone who loves and understands the source material. With that said, Lindelof's show won't be a direct, live-action clone of the book, but will apparently aim to maintain its spirit. He once compared it to FX's Fargo, which draws from the Coen Brothers universe, but doesn't outright adapt it.

The letter builds on this by saying:

"We have no desire to 'adapt' the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created thirty years ago. Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted ... They will, however, be remixed."

This could be seen as a dig at Snyder, who used the comic panels as storyboards to literally recreate scenes from the book. However, it's more likely that Lindelof doesn't want to do what's already come before, especially when what came before is less than 10 years old. The least we can do is hear him out and see how his ultimate vision comes together.