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The Watchmen

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As a child, going to the movies was always an experience I looked forward to. Wide-eyed and cautious, I'd anxiously await the usher to unclip the velvet rope so that I could see the latest installment of “Home Alone” or “Dr. Dolittle.” Although these slapstick comedies entertained me, they did not have the same profound effect that super hero films had on me. From the moment the 20th Century Fox ensemble resonated the theatre, I was transported to another realm – where anything was possible. Where men could swing from building to building or could set buildings ablaze with a single thought. The images racing through the screen, raced their way through my retina and into my brain, where they planted themselves and flourished. After the film, I would dream day and night about having super powers. Needless to say, superhero films offered a unique form of escapism that was mesmerizing.


Zach Snyder's adaption of “the most celebrated graphic novel of all time”, Watchmen, is without a doubt, the most complex superhero film to ever grace the big screen. The film begins with a telling montage that chronicles our heroes, The Watchmen, in their prime crime fighting days. The photos within the montage are saturated and grainy and are accompanied with nostalgic music – representing the “good ol' days.” The movie then begins, twenty years later, in a dark and dystopian alternate 1980's. Our heroes are tired, detached, drunk, overweight, and cynical. Just as the rest of the world, they are awaiting doomsday by nuclear war due to the escalating controversies between Russia and the US. The Watchmen are not our typical super heroes. We are introduced to The Comedian, whose jokes range from arson to rape. Despite participating in societies vices, The Comedian is still a hero. The Silk Spectre, the only female hero, further asserts her gender by donning a flesh colored costume. Ironically, her costume is full body – but she exposes her bare breasts several times within the movie. Then we have Dr. Manhattan, the only true superhero. Dr. Manhattan, originally John, is the only one in the group that possesses super powers. After an accident in the particle accelerator, John becomes a blue, nude, humanoid that has the ability to control atomic particles.


The Dr. Manhattan that we meet in the dystopian 1980's is working hard trying to prevent the apocalypse by building machines to stop nuclear warfare and also trying to predict the future by using his control of particles. The existence of mankind rests upon Dr. Manhattan's shoulders. Eventually Dr. Manhattan does restore peace but not directly. He is used as a scapegoat in a clever plan by Adrian Veidt, a former Watchmen who is also known as the “the smartest man in the world.” Veidt sets up blasts that wipe out several major cities in both Russia and America. The blasts are made to look like they were done by Dr. Manhattan. Russia and America soon reconcile and join forces against the common enemy – Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan then leaves the universe to preserve the newfound peace and unity.


This sad tale, at its root, seems much like a story that has been around for centuries – Jesus Christ, ring any bells? Dr. Manhattan's downfall is much like the crucifixion of Jesus. Like Jesus, Dr. Manhattan sacrifices himself for humanity. Dr. Manhattan doesn't stop at Jesus, he is God as well. Dr. Manhattan chooses who lives and who dies several times in the movie. He is shown to have won the Vietnam War by enlarging himself and simply strolling over fields of soldiers, crushing them in the process. Dr. Manhattan has the powers allotted only to God, yet he is a man.


As I've mentioned earlier, super hero movies allow viewers to immerse themselves into a new realm with endless possibilities, those same people later find themselves fantasizing about having the same powers the hero had. Watchmen breaks the tacit codes of the genre by providing a hero, Dr. Manhattan, who is simply too powerful that he becomes synonymous with God. After watching the film, viewers don't want to be the Comedian or the Silk Spectre – they want to be God.


Watchmen is breeding a generation of children who will play God in their front yards, rather than Batman and Robin. The issue with children wanting to be God is that they grow up. The adults they become will inevitably promote the transhumanist agenda. Transhumanism, a philosophy as well as a movement, encourages the use of science to biologically engineer humans to become better. A few of the transhumanists' aspirations: life extension, mind uploading, replacement organs, built-in oxidation. This futuristic idea may seem far-fetched, so why not take an example from history. Charles Manson, the man who was responsible for several high profile murders in the late 60's, proclaimed that he was the second coming. Manson has been immortalized in popular culture; several bands have named themselves off of his ideals. Watchmen promotes the very ideas that created Charles Manson.





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Jessicaaaaaaaa said...
Dec. 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm
Thank you for posting this. I feel like I know more now than I did after watching the movie. Now most of my questions are answered. Thanks!
 
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