After dropping an Easter egg-rich new Watchmen trailer during the spotlight of Comic-Con, Damon Lindelof today tore right into the heart of the upcoming HBO series based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic late-1980s comic.
“What in 2019 is the equivalent of the nuclear standoff between the Americans and the Russians?” the sometimes-punchy Leftovers co-creator postulated during the Watchmen panel at TCA on Wednesday. “It is race and the police,” Lindelof said, answering his own question as star Regina King and EP/director Nicole Kassell — both Leftovers alums — sat next to him on stage at the Beverly Hilton.
“There is no defeating white supremacy — it’s not going away,” EP Lindelof explained of the hate groups that populate the nine-episode Watchmen. “There are no easy answers and grandiose solution,” he added, noting this was not going to play out like your standard superheroes saga on the small or big screen.
Set to debut in October, the Tulsa-based series focuses on King as a police officer in a world where cops wear masks, the Jeremy Irons-portrayed Ozymandias is in seclusion, a very liberal Robert Redford is the longest-serving POTUS ever, there are no Internet or smartphones and a killer cult has grown up around the now-dead Rorschach.
“It is not supposed to be a world that you recognize to Trojan horse themes that are in a real world in a fictional one,” Lindelof asserted of the 2019 of the show. “What is actual history and what is alt-history and things start to get blended in the middle.”
Keeping things circumspect, Lindelof fielded a lot of questions about Watchmen the series connect to Watchmen the classic. “We are not going to mess with it, it’s canon,” he declared of the 12-issue run from 1986-87.
However, Lindelof did admit his relationship with the notoriously prickly and private Moore, who has kept to his long-ago-announced intention to have nothing to do with adaptations of his work. As some may have noticed, Moore is not mentioned in any of HBO’s press materials on the series, with only Gibbons noted as co-creator.
“It’s an ongoing wrestling match,” Lindelof revealed candidly of feelings about Moore’s feelings about Watchmen adaptations such as his. Yet, linking Moore and his work to the DYI spirit of first-generation punk rock, Lindelof also said his attitude, in the best spirit of V for Vendetta creator Moore, is “F*ck you guys, I’m doing it anyway.”
Set in an America where superheroes are outlaws and the radiated Dr. Manhattan still lives on the moon, the loaded cast of Watchmen includes King, Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing and James Wolk.
Watchmen is produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television, based on characters from DC; executive producer/writer Lindelof, executive producer/director Kassell, executive producer Tom Spezialy, executive producer/director Stephen Williams and executive producer Joseph Iberti.