If you’re watching HBO’s new series, Watchmen, then you may be wondering just how the timeline in the TV series works as compared to the comics. The TV series is indeed a sequel of sorts to the comics, taking place about 30 years after the comics stopped. Read on to learn more. This article has major spoilers for the comics and minor spoilers for the TV series regarding characters and the timeline.
The Comic Explored Two Generations of Costumed Heroes
The original comic series featured a first-generation and a second-generation group of heroes. The TV series introduces us to generation three about 30 years after the comic concludes.
The first-generation was active in the 1930s and the 1940s and called themselves the Minutemen. The members of this group included Captain Metropolis, Dollar Bill, Hollis Mason (the first Nite Owl), Hooded Justice (whose identity is never confirmed), Mothman, Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre’s mom), and Silhouette.
Edward Blake (aka the Comedian) was another superhero who was part of the Minutemen. At one point he tried to rape Sally Jupiter. Blake was the character whose murder was the mystery at the center of the comics. He was a member of both the Minutemen and the Crimebusters.
The second-generation group was around in the mid-1980s and they were never a truly cohesive group like the Minutemen. They thought about calling themselves the Crimebusters, but then the Keene Act was passed. The Keene Act banned all superheroes not sanctioned by the government.
This second-generation group included Adrian Veidt, a wealthy genius known as Ozymandias. Adrian was born in 1939 and is the son of German-American immigrants. He’s brilliant and wealthy. Laurie Juspeczyk aka Silk Spectre was in the second group, along with Dan Dreiberg, an inventor who became the second Nite Owl.
Walter Kovacs aka Rorschach was also in that group. He was a deeply disturbed private investigator who wrote a philosophical journal that was discovered after he died.
Edward Blake (aka the Comedian) was another superhero and the only one to be a member of the Minutemen and the “Crimebusters.”
The TV Series Takes Place 30 Years After the Comic Series
The new series takes place about 30 years later, in present-day 2019. But first the series opens with a flashback to Tulsa 1921 during a race massacre. Then it moves into present-day 2019.
For Watchmen, we’re in an alternate timeline where U.S. history turned out very different, so don’t expect to see cameos of Donald Trump or Barack Obama. In fact, in the comics the term limit for Presidents was overturned, so now Robert Redford is President (and has been for a long, long time.) His face is carved on Mount Rushmore. Nixon’s Watergate crimes never got out, and the Constitution was changed to allow him to remain President far into the mid-1980s. So Nixon is still President when the comics take place in the 1980s, and now Redford is President in the TV series.
In the TV series’ present-day, white supremacists are a very real problem. They call themselves the Seventh Cavalary and have their own Klan outfits to keep their identities hidden under masks that pay homage to Rorschach’s mask. The police, in turn, have hidden their own identities behind masks in response.
So we have a new crop of “Watchmen” costumed heroes who are likely just as confused as their previous counterparts from earlier generations.
As far as superpowers, only one hero has them. Dr. Jon Osterman turned into Doctor Manhattan after an experiment went wrong in 1959 and that’s how he got his powers. Interestingly, he mentioned early in the comics that he thought something was different about Ozymandias and considered the idea of Ozymandias having some type of power, too.
It’s not known before the series begins if Doctor Manhattan is going to return. However, a scene at the end of the trailer may hint that he’s coming back.