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Watchmen Backlash — Against the Book!

What does one write about the Watchmen movie after everyone else has already weighed in and said it's too faithful to the original comic? How about that the original comic wasn't that great to begin with? That's what Slate and the Washington Post did today!

"Watchmen wasn't unfilmable," writes the Washington Post's Philip Kennicott, "it was unreadable." Kennicott takes issue, mostly, with Alan Moore's dialogue:

Despite the intellectual name-dropping, the quotes from Nietzsche, Blake and Juvenal ("Who watches the watchmen?"), the level of Moore's writing rarely rises above B-movie fare. It is silly and dated, the faded gibberish of an old-fashioned noire stylist (the kind who now works for newspapers). And it is filled with clichés.


Kennicott credits the movie's actors (even Malin Ackerman!) for doing "what they can" with their "cardboard characters," but finds Moore's "incoherent story line" too much to bear: "The only watch that matters in Watchmen," he says, "is the one on your wrist. It's telling you life is too short for this movie."

Slate's Grady Hendrix, meanwhile, brands the Moore's book "a failure" because it inspired not a flood of complicated, layered graphic novels with "decentralized narratives" about the lives of ordinary people, but a bunch of comics in which superheroes are killed off, seemingly for little more than a sales boost.

Watchmen's failure wasn't that it failed to influence other comics but that the book's most meaningless and shallow aspects were mistakenly hailed as its virtues and then widely imitated. [...]



[Watchmen's] novelty helped bring about the avalanche of grim-'n'-gritty comic books that followed in its wake. DC comics, the home of Watchmen, would go on to have Batgirl crippled and sexually humiliated by the Joker in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke (a comic that the author himself regrets having written), and DC later staged an event called "A Death in the Family" where the fate of Batman's ward, Robin, was placed in the hands of readers who could call a 900 number to vote on the Boy Wonder's fate. Predictably, they voted for him to be beaten half to death with a crowbar and then blown up.


Who could possibly have expected that Zack Snyder's movie would spark such a hatefest against a book that's still nearly universally considered a masterpiece? We just thought the slow-motion fight scenes were shitty!

Blight 'Watchmen' [WP]
Watchmen Failed [Slate]

Photo: Courtesy of DC Comics