By now you probably know that HBO’s new series Watchmen takes place about 30 years after the comics left off. But the comics and the movie ended very differently. Will the show follow to the comics’ ending or the movie’s?
This article has spoilers for the Watchmen movie, comic series, and minor spoilers for the TV series in terms of background and timeline.
‘Watchmen’ Follows the Comic’s Ending
You’ll quickly find that the HBO series decided to go with the comic ending for its canon, even though it’s a more difficult undertaking than the movie in some ways.
For the most part, the movie was faithful to the comic except for the ending. While the movie ended with Doctor Manhattan being blamed for the catastrophe in New York, the comic ended with a giant squid descending upon New York and killing millions. Both catastrophes united the world against an alien threat, creating world peace and ending the threat of a nuclear holocaust.
In both the comic and the movie, this was a plan created by Veidt (Ozymandias.) The billionaire genius reasoned that the millions killed in New York would be a small price to pay in order to unite the world against an enemy.
So yes, the TV series is based on the giant squid ending. In the comics, genius Veidt gathered some of the brightest people in the world and used their talents to create a genetically engineered monster. They thought they were doing this for a movie. The monster – which looked like a giant squid – was 100 feet tall and was supposed to appear to be an alien creature. The creature was given psychic abilities so it could project horrific images and thoughts into people’s minds, killing them. The creature was teleported into New York, destroying buildings and killing millions. Everyone believed it was an alien threat.
Now here’s how the movie ended:
Because the TV series is based on the comic, Doctor Manhattan was never blamed for the catastrophe in New York.
When the comic (and movie) left off, Rorschach was killed by Doctor Manhattan. They all found out too late to stop Veidt, but Rorschach couldn’t agree to not say anything in order to maintain world peace. He wrote everything about Veidt’s plans in his journal, which he dropped off with a right-wing newspaper before he died. It was never shown if the newspaper decided to publish his journal or not. Presumably, the movie will reveal this.
So if you want to refresh yourself on exactly what happened in the timeline before the TV series begins, then you’ll want to reread the end of the comic series. Watching the movie is certainly another way to get caught up, and for the most part it stays true to the comics. But the endings are different, so you’ll have to keep that in mind. In the TV series, the giant squid is, indeed, canon.