Damon Lindelof, producer of HBO's Watchmen sequel, says that the original 12-issue series is "canon" that the show won't "mess with" - but when it comes to co-creator/writer Alan Moore'sopinion of his show, Lindelof has a very different attitude. Turns out, that was just scratching the surface.
Joined by star Regina King and director Nicole Kassell, Lindelof took the stage Wednesday at the Television Critics Assn. biannual press tour in Beverly Hills to discuss the series. "It's not going anywhere, but it felt like a pretty formidable foe", Lindelof said.
'What is actual history and what is alt-history and things start to get blended in the middle, ' continued Lindelof, referring to the alternate history trappings of the show, in which Robert Redford serves as president and the internet was never developed. Yes, that Robert Redford.
You may recall the reference at the end of the Watchmen comic that Redford was thinking of running in the 1988 election, but Lindelof clarified the timeline during the panel, explaining that Nixon won another term and died in office, leaving VP Gerald Ford in charge. The Watergate break-in was thus never exposed, and in the Watchmen comic books, the U.S. is heading towards World War III with the Soviet Union. "That he's not thrilled", Bloys said in a Television Critics Association Q&A.
Instead, he contemplated how the history kicked off in those comics might have progressed from where the story leaves off. Lindelof explained that he was inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates' story in The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations", which lead him to read about Black Wall Street and the massacre of black families by white racist mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. "I think because we see a lot of the story happening in Tulsa through Angela's eyes... we are reminded how we go around in our day to day taking off masks and putting them on..."
"What, in 2019, is the equivalent of the nuclear standoff between the Russians and the United States?". "It is race and the police".
The central conflict, based on what Lindelof had to say, seems to be between police and what looks to be a white supremacist group that has appropriated the words and mask of Rorschach, using them to rise up against the government. "There are no easy answers and grandiose solution, the scribe added, noting this was not going to play out like your standard superheroes saga on the small or big screen". "One of the things that I believe makes Watchmen is that it's not interested in talking about who the heroes are and who the villains are, it's an examination of institutions and culture and politics and things that inform our society".
Speaking of the original, it's no secret that Alan Moore isn't a fan of adaptations.
"I don't think I've made peace with it", Lindelof said. "I made personal overtures to explain what we are doing, and he declined".
Lindelof is a huge Watchmen fan, and when he first signed on to pen the adaptation, he confesses, "I went through a very intensive period of terror of f-king it up, and I'm not entirely sure I'm out of that tunnel". [But] if I was too reverent, then I wouldn't be able to do anything that was risky.
He added, "I do feel like the spirit of Alan Moore is a punk rock spirit, a rebellious spirit, and if you told Alan Moore in 1984 or 1985 or 1986, 'You're not allowed to do this because Superman's creator or Swamp Thing's creator doesn't want you to do it, ' he would say, 'F-- you, I'm doing it anyway.' So I'm channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore, 'F-- you, I'm doing it anyway'".
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