Why aren’t there more movies like Watchmen? It has realistic portrayals of the psychology behind being a superhero, complex characters, ev en superheroes who generally don’t have superpowers. The Comedian aged slowly and Ozymandias moved quicker than everyone else. Extraordinary yes, but nothing like their counterparts Wolverine or The Flash. And Dr. Manhattan? He has very original origins and powers. It was also very nice to see the most powerful individual in a movie not dominating the activities of the others.
But that’s right back to the psychology. Our sports heroes think they are something special and treat women like they are part of the perks of being good at what they do. It only makes sense that someone like the Comedian would have that attitude as well. Silk Spectre might have been one of the great heroes for many years, but as a retired person she was pressured into a standard gender role and naturally hated having her independence stripped from her. Silhouette was a public figure, which made her open homosexuality a target. There is mention made of at least one superhero who has gone insane, too; that is a perfectly normal reaction given what these people do and how they do it. Ozymandias had been a vigilante for years before he went public. He had gotten used to making up the rules as he needed to. He was also intelligent enough to disguise his activities so that he wasn’t labeled insane and didn’t become a public target. The sequence of events he sets in place, of killing millions to save billions, is something a madman or vigilante human might think was the right move, but persons with a socially acceptable respect for life would never consider it. That any of the other heroes can even consider Ozymandias might be right speaks to the consistency of that thinking.
And Dr. Manhattan is the creme de la creme of the cast. He has godlike powers. He isn’t made in the superstrong/superfast/supersmart mold of Superman, but he is truly godlike. He can kill a person or persons with a thought. He can create anything he wants wherever he desires. Wow! He can make life. No small wonder he feels a growing disconnection with humanity.
Complexity made for an interesting feature as well in the movie. A god plagued by doubts and regrets who tells other characters what is going to happen even as he tries to understand what he must do. Two heroes finding the line between doing the right thing and vigilantism as they fall in love. A guy who finds dark humor in the world around him and has little respect for any individual but tries to save the planet from chaos at the cost of his own life. Even the book the first Night Owl wrote made for better dimension; superheroes contemplating the meaning and importance of superheroes to their society.
The movie screamed to me about its realism and grit. Sure, it’s fun to see a hero able to fly into the sun or lift mountains but the most interesting characters, and the most interesting features of those characters, are limitations. All of the characters in the movie had them, even Ozymandias. If he hadn’t been able to neutralize Night Owl II and Rorschach and convince Dr. Manhattan of the rightness of what he was doing he would have had no chance to follow through with his plans. Did I mention how neat it was to have a hero play the villain, even when he was trying to act heroic?