Comparing the Graphic Novel and Film of Watchmen Part 2

Hey guys this is Kat “Comic Uno” and I have a new feature comparing the graphic novel and film of Watchmen. I had to do a ten page paper about Watchmen for a Novel and Film class I took. So, I decided to publish it here on Comic Frontline. Here is the second part of the article. Every week I will release a new part of this feature series. 

could the film provide that the novel didn’t provide to its fullest? The answer
to this question is music. This film uses that aspect to its advantage. The
graphic novel references lyrics from Bob Dylan’s songs and even based some of
its chapters on his songs. (Borsellino, 32) One of the phrases on the Nostalgia
perfume ad was “the times they are changing”. The graphic novel could reference
music, but it could never have the same effect that the movie would have when
it added music into the background of certain scenes.
            Bob Dylan’s “The Times are A
Changin” is the introduction song to the film. This is a perfect introduction
to Watchmen because the past has
changed so much because of the involvement of these superheroes. JFK was shot
by the Comedian and the American’s won the Vietnam War because of Dr.
Manhattan. These are only some of the major changes that were made in history
because of these heroes. This song also gives a social commentary of how
society has changed over the years. Society has destroyed itself.
            When the Comedian dies, a light tone
from the 1950’s “Unforgettable” from Nat “King” Cole plays in the background.
As the comedian falls to his death and his smiley face button with a mark of
blood falls with him the lyrics play “That someone so unforgettable thinks I am
unforgettable too.” The Comedian is an unforgettable character and the movie is
based on his actions, and how it affected all the heroes’ lives.
            During the Comedian’s funeral
“Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel plays in the background. The song
was written in the wake of JFK’s death, and this is ironic because in the Watchmen’s universe the Comedian killed
JFK.  The twin towers in the background
during the Comedian’s funeral also give homage to 9/11 and add even more
emotion during this sad toned song. The movie makes reference to 9/11 again in
the end of the film when New York City is destroyed. There is an immense hole
where Time Square used to be, but this references Ground Zero. (Sanderson, 128)
During the funeral there is a close up shot of Dr. Manhattan and the lyrics
say, “Silence like a cancer grows”. This will be a foreshadowing of the scandal
Dr. Manhattan will face further on in the movie.
            Most novels adapted into film don’t
have the luxury or problems, depending on the way you look at it, associated
with having visuals within the novel. In most novels imagery is left to the
reader’s imagination, but since Watchmen
is a graphic novel it shares words and images. This is one of the reasons that
sound and music played such a big part in the film. It was the one thing that
the comic book could not provide.
            By watching the film and reading the
graphic novel you get the best perspective on the Watchmen. There were minor and major changes in the film that
intensified the Watchmen story. The
first minor detail that the film added was Sally Jupiter being called Silk
Spectre. In the graphic novel she is known as Silk Specter, but mostly referred
to as Sally Jupiter. In the movie they call her Silk Spectre on many occasions
and this reminds the audience that Laurie doesn’t have a real identity. She
doesn’t even have her own superhero name as she is the second Silk Spectre. She
will always be living in her mother’s shadow. Laurie never wanted to be the
Silk Spectre, but her mother forced Laurie to train. Laurie has a hard time
making an identity of her own. I think the minor detail of calling Sally
Jupiter Silk Spectre adds more to the fact that Laurie does not have her own
            In the graphic novel the theme of identity
is also developed even with Dr. Manhattan’s character. His father said that
fixing watches was a dying trade. He pushed his son to go into a modern age
trade as a scientist. If his father never had pushed him into that direction
there would be no Dr. Manhattan. His father, without knowing it, changed Dr.
Manhattan’s identity forever and thus the future of the world. 
            The biggest difference between the
film and the graphic novel is the ending. In the graphic novel a giant squid
destroys New York City and kills millions of people. In the movie the energy
that created Dr. Manhattan destroyed New York City. It is debatable which
ending is better because they both have the same result.
            I believe that Dr. Manhattan’s
energy has a bigger impact for the story than a giant squid destroying New
York. It makes it more ironic and directly related to Dr Manhattan’s character.
Everyone thinks that it is Dr. Manhattan’s fault. Dr. Manhattan is the person
who saved America from the Vietnam War, but in the end he is the very thing
that kills millions of Americans. They fear other nations, but never question
America’s motives. Americans were paranoid over World War 3 and a nuclear war,
but an American is the person who killed them. “God exists, and he is American.”
(Snyder, 2009) This is an irony to the general paranoia. 
            The giant squid ending still has a
similar meaning to the film ending. It is less character driven and more
socially driven. The giant squid is one of the oldest creatures in the world,
and the irony is that this is the creature that kills millions. Everyone is
paranoid over nuclear bombs and new science, but surprisingly these are not the
things that kill them. People looked to the future, but never thought to look
to the past.
            Both endings lead to utopia as a
result of millions of American’s deaths. Rorschach believes that the people
have the right to know who killed the people in New York. Ozymandias believes
if the people knew than there was no point in trying to reach peace. There will
just be another war and utopia will be lost. After the death in New York there
was no more paranoia. The world had united, and this created utopia.
            Dr. Manhattan says, “It will never
end. Nothing ever ends.” (Moore, Chapter 12 27) Ozymandias believes that with
this action he has changed the world and has ended war forever, but with Dr.
Manhattan saying this he now has some doubts.
            Rorschach’s journal is given to a
newspaper outlet. The newspaper outlet doesn’t have any more stories to tell.
Rorschach’s journal is in the news hamper. In the graphic novel it is under
other papers, but in the movie the journal is on top of the pile. This proves
that Rorschach’s journal was the driving force of Watchmen. It began the story
and it is most likely will continue the story. Dr. Manhattan says that it will
never end. Rorschach’s journal is the only source with the truth of how New
York was destroyed. This can create more wars for the future. Utopia would be
destroyed. Those deaths would mean nothing. But maybe the red headed boy at the
newspaper outlet will not pick up the journal. There is a never-ending amount
of possibilities where the Watchman story can continue.  The movie and the graphic novel both respect
this idea. That is what makes Watchmen
unique. Most comic books would continue this story, and most movies of the
superhero genre have sequel movies. Watchmen
makes you analyze the story for different interpretations. This is why Watchmen is meant to be re-read and
re-watched. (Thomson, 103) Richard Benson says in his article Obsolete Models a Specialty: An Introduction,
“But in Watchmen, these different
viewpoints mean something more than Rorschach blot, if you will, or a chance to
play “Choose Your Own Adventure.” The fact that there are so many different
possible interpretations is the whole point; it’s not which one you choose that
matters, it’s that you have a choice.”

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One Thought to “Comparing the Graphic Novel and Film of Watchmen Part 2”

  1. My favorite part about Watchmen was the music. After reading this I definitely need to watch Watchmen again.

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