Watchmen is a graphic novel that was produced in the mid 1980's. It portrays a world where super heroes are common people who have decided to wear a funny suit and exact vigilante justice.
It is an alternate time line where Richard Nixon still holds the White House. The war in Vietnam was won by the Americans and the threat of nuclear war is always on the horizon. In this dark and gritty world the super heroes who used to prowl the streets have been outlawed. Only those who work for the government are allowed to remain.
Who Watches the Watchmen? "Those four words have become synonymous with the dark and gritty side of super heroes.
That quote has become so well known that many movies, comics and TV Shows often sneak it into their production in the form of graffiti on a wall.
What follows now are three cases where the Watchmen graphic novel clearly influenced movies and TV shows.
1. The Incredibles movie - The movie was clearly written by someone familiar with the graphic novel. There are so many things that were borrowed from the Watchmen that I will only list a few:
- Outlawing of super heroes - In the movie super heroes become outlawed due to rising issues of collateral damage caused by the activity of supers. In the Watchmen the Keene Act is passed to put a stop to vigilante justice and masked heroes.
- Capes kill heroes - In the movie Mr. Incredible asks about having a cape for his costume. He is then given a lecture on how capes kill. In the novel one of the former members of the Minute Men dies because his cape got stuck in a revolving door.
- Someone is killing supers - In the movie Syndrome is indeed behind a plot to kill off all of the supers so that he (a super only due to high-tech gadgets) will finally be given his proper respect. In the novel Rorschach is looking into a plot to kill all masks (his word for costumed heroes).
2. Lost TV show - When the writing team behind the Watchmen began their work they had a problem. They needed to do a 12 issue comic book but they only had six issues of content. What did they do? They added in flashbacks and other things that were used to build the piece out to twelve issues. Does that sound familiar?
Lost, without the flashbacks, would have been over in one or two seasons. Clearly the producers of Lost were influenced by the production of the Watchmen.
3. Heroes TV Show - The plot of season one of Heroes is very similar to what we found out was going on in the Watchmen. In both cases a plot was being hatched to devastate New York City in an effort to heal the world and bring about a lasting peace.
Unlike the TV show, in the novel New York City is devastated and the heroes keep quiet about it. They keep quiet not because they agree with what has happened but because they know that bringing the story public would only make things worse.
Another correlation is that Sylar was a Watchmaker. The only character in Watchmen who had real super powers was also a Watchmaker. Both characters also have a casual disregard for human life.