Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen isn’t just any old comic book. It’s appreciated by casual fans as a compellingly mature take on superheroes, by critics as one of the medium's most literary and thought-provoking works, and by artists and writers as a near perfect exploration of storytelling form in comics. It changed comics—both superhero and otherwise—forever, and for good or ill, its influence is still felt today. It’s a work so revered as a work in its native form of comics, that any proposed adaptation of it is immediately met with skepticism, which is why the news I’m about to tell you is so utterly baffling.
As reported by Variety, writer Damon Lindelof—best known for his work on Lost and Star Trek: Into Darkness—is in talks to develop a Watchmen series at HBO. This project reportedly has no connection to any previous attempts by the premium cable channel to develop the comic, or to the 2009 Zack Snyder-directed film. The outlet had no further details on the project, which if brought to light, would continue Lindelof’s relationship with the channel after recently wrapping The Leftovers.
I’ll freely admit that if there absolutely has to be a live-action version of Watchmen, then an HBO show is absolutely the way to go. Twelve extra-long episodes emulating each of the chapters as closely as possible would allow the book’s narrative structure to be utilized more so than a two hour movie. But I’m not at all confident in the channel’s pick to helm the project. The guy who is best known for Lost, a show that crumbled under the weight of its own symbolism, or Prometheus, which suffered similar problems and also was incapable of sticking the landing, should very obviously not be the guy you want for Watchmen.
But who knows, given the right team and cast, Lindelof could surprise us and put out the adaptation that Watchmen truly deserves. But they probably won’t, because the adaptation it deserves is none at all.