What You Need To Know Before Watching Watchmen

Watchmen is based on the most celebrated comic of all time, but that doesn’t mean most of the people heading out to see it this weekend have actually taken the trouble to read it. I saw it on Monday and sitting in the seat next to me was someone like most of you, someone who hasn’t read. Since that someone was my wife she rode home from the theater with me and, though she loved the movie, she had a myriad of questions about some of the things which Zack Snyder just isn’t able to fit in to his film.

You may have questions too. In fact you almost certainly will. Don’t wait until afterward, when it’s too late and it’s all over. We’re here to help. This is our guide to what non-readers need to know before seeing the Watchmen movie. It may not all make sense now, but by the time the credits roll it all fits together. Sure you’ll enjoy the movie even without this information, but it can’t hurt to go in armed with a little knowledge to impress your friends. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it spoiler free.

Just Because A Guy Wears A Cape, Doesn’t Mean He Works For Disney

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. This is not a kid’s movie. The MPAA goes through all this trouble to put out ratings and still, there’s always that one idiot parent who ignores them. Watchmen is rated-R for a reason. The comic it’s based on is brutal, adult, and full of things like salty language, sex, realistic violence, and at least one glowing penis. The movie that has resulted from it, shies away from none of that. Yes I know your kid loves Spider-Man but seriously, keep little Timmy at home. I don’t want him sitting next to me. Plenty of other opportunities for you to engage in bad parenting without annoying me. I think Miley Cyrus has a new movie coming. If you want to ruin your kids, just let them see that.

Hey, Remember The 80s? Welcome Back

Watchmen is set in the 80s. Have a Tab. Yeah I know, the 80s were so lame. I mean what was up with those legwarmers anyway? So why would someone want to set a movie in that decade of shame? Well first off that’s when the comic was written so its author, Alan Moore, was writing about the world around him. Of course you could attempt to contemporize the comic, change the date and make it modern. I’m not sure that would work with Watchmen though, since it’s so centered around the attitudes and events of that time period. It’s all about the Cold War. Remember that? Yeah big fun. So it’s set in the 80s. Deal with it. People go see period pieces all of the time, why not a period piece superhero movie?

It’s 1985 And Richard Nixon Is President For Life

Yes, Alan Moore had access to a history book when he wrote it. This film is historically inaccurate by design. Deal with it, it’s called fiction. Richard Nixon wasn’t really a 5 term president and superheroes didn’t actually exist. Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe which was formed by the existence of superheroes. What might the world be like if superheroes were real, and came to prominence in time to help America win Vietnam? In Watchmen’s universe, that happened and changed the course of American history allowing Tricky Dick to pull an FDR and stay in office, pretty much forever. Watergate? Didn’t happen. He had The Comedian to cover his ass.

Rorschach’s Mask Is Not Made Of People

Zack Snyder’s movie never actually gets around to explaining what’s up with Rorschach’s mask, or as he calls it his “face”. It’s hard to miss. Rorschach is the guy with the shifting, changing inkblots on his head. What’s going on there? The comic, which doesn’t have to deal with a running time, tells a backstory which explains the mask came from an experimental fabric, abandoned by a clothing manufacturer when they couldn’t figure out a way to make inkblots look cool on a dress. Rorschach took some of the fabric off their trash heap, and made a few ski masks out of it. It’s not really important to the plot, but hey, you might wonder.

Dan And Laurie Are Replacement Heroes, But The Comedian Is An Original Asshole

Watchmen tells the story of two separate generations of heroes, and it can get a little confusing. You’ll see some names repeated. For instance there’s a Nite Owl both in the first generation of heroes called The Minutemen, and there’s also a Nite Owl in the second generation of heroes called The Watchmen. What you need to know is that’s it’s not the same Nite Owl. Don’t get confued. There’s Nite Owl, and Dan aka Nite Owl II. When the original Nite Owl retired, he handed things over to a young whippersnapper, who took up his mantel and became an even cooler Nite Owl. The same is true of Silk Spectre. The first Silk Spectre had a daughter named Laurie, whom she raised to take over for her. Laurie took on the name of Slike Spectre too. This isn’t true of The Comedian, who’s just such a bastard he refuses to retire. There’s only one Comedian, and you’ll see him as part of both generations of superheroes.

Only Dr. Manhattan Has Superpowers (Yes, I know Most Girls Can’t Hit Like That)

The movie actually makes this pretty clear through dialogue, but director Zack Snyder’s penchant for amping up his action sequences might make it a little confusing. Yes I know Silk Spectre seemed to punch that guy really, really hard; but she doesn’t have super powers. She’s just really, really good at her job. Laurie and her friends have had a lot of practice punching people in the head. Practice makes perfect, or so I’m told.

Dr. Manhattan Isn’t Showing You His Dick, He Just Doesn’t Care If You See It

Dr. Manhattan is naked in the movie, a lot. Most of the time when you see him, he’s floating in the air, his glowing blue penis hanging out in the open. No, he’s not a pervert. He just doesn’t care. He can see quarks for Christ’s sake! Speaking of Christ, Manhattan’s so powerful he’s more than halfway to becoming a god. What would a god need with clothes? Remember that even the Christian god created man to be naked. Obviously he didn’t see the point in them either. It’s only after man sinned that he started covering himself up. Much like the almighty creator, Manhattan just doesn’t see any need for fabric, and so he avoids wearing underoos whenever possible. It makes sense. If I had those rock hard, electric abs I probably wouldn’t want to wear a shirt either.

You’re The Comedian, So Make Me Laugh!

Look you really ought to be able to figure this one out. Why The Comedian is called The Comedian even though he’s not funny is one of the big, thought-provoking, big ideas of the movie. Short version: He views the world as a sadistic joke which only he understands. Now see the movie and think about it. It’s deep shit man.

Adrian Veidt Probably Isn’t Gay, But Silhouette Is

Watchmen contains both gay and straight characters. Silhoutte for instance, was really into chicks. Good for her, even if it doesn’t turn out so well. But Adrian Veidt, as far as we know, isn’t into dudes. Actually his sexuality is never discussed in the comics. In the movie he’s played by Matthew Goode who for whatever reason, decided to give him the Zero the Hutt treatment, a move which some have confused as his attempt to turn Adrian into Harvey Milk. Well ok maybe they’re not confused. At Comic Con last year Goode as much as admitted he was playing Adrian as if he might be in the closet. But what’s going on inside Matthew Goode’s head is his business. As far as we know Adrian Veidt isn’t gay, he just likes purple. Really even if he were it’s irrelevant. Vow right now to go into the movie and not care about it.

What The Fuck Is That Standing Next To Ozymandias? Did He Steal Donnie Darko’s Giant Bunny?

That is Bubastis. Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, really is the smartest man in the world. He’s so smart that he’s perfected genetic engineering, created for himself the perfect pet, and then named him after an Ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis a genetically enhanced lynx, which means Adrian took a lynx and gave him the 6 million dollar man treatment. He’sa super-bobcat and he’s so super it’s hard to resist the urge to give him a pet. Or at least it seems hard to resist for one Dr. Manhattan. Here kitty, kitty…

Josh Tyler