Famously vocal comic book writer/icon Alan Moore didn’t make a secret of expressing distaste for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of his Watchmen comic book. That was no surprise, given that he has been upset about several other Watchmen-associated projects, including Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie and any Watchmen crossover efforts by DC Comics. So obviously, Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindelof, who knows a little something about backlash, must have anticipated Moore’s grumblings. And Lindelof is mostly fine with it.
While speaking during the summer Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, the Lost showrunner admitted that he hasn’t quite come to terms with Moore placing thousands of miles of distance between himself and HBO tick-tocking into the superhero realm. Still, he aims to “respect” that Moore (who he calls “a genius, in my opinion, the greatest writer in the comic medium and maybe the greatest writer of all time”) wants zero affiliation with the series. Lindelof concedes that this stings a bit, but he’s responding like Moore would, if he was in the same situation. From Entertainment Weekly:
“The wrestling match will continue. I do feel like the spirit of Alan Moore is a punk rock spirit, a rebellious spirit, and that if you would tell Alan Moore, a teenage Moore in ’85 or ’86, ‘You’re not allowed to do this because Superman’s creator or Swamp Thing’s creator doesn’t want you to do it,’ he would say, ‘F*ck you, I’m doing it anyway.’ So I’m channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore, ‘F*ck you, I’m doing it anyway.’”
Lindelof seemed to instantly realize what he’d just said and then exclaimed, “That’s clickbait, guys! Clickbait!” Well, he’s not wrong, but comic book fans will also understand Moore’s history of pushing back on this very subject, so Lindelof appears to be doing the best that he can with the rejection, even while admitting that he’s viewing Moore as a surrogate dad of sorts while seeking his approval, which shall probably never come.
In addition, Lindelof spoke to reporters (via IndieWire) about how his show’s changing things up for HBO. The initial setting of the story, which deals with how society has been shaped by white supremacist forces, has been moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The year is 1921, and angry white mobs have burned down the Greenwood district, otherwise known as Black Wall Street. The tragedy was (literally) buried by local citizens and press and inaccurately framed as a “race riot.” Lindelof, like many other U.S. citizens, only recently learned the truth, and he explained how he “was ashamed and confused and embarrassed that I had never heard about it before. That was the beginning of my education.”
Given that lots of folks recently became aware (like Lindelof) of what happened to Black Wall Street after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 essay, “The Case for Reparations,” which was published in The Atlantic, Lindelof hopes that his series will connect the past with the present and be as timely as Moore’s 1986 comic series was during its time. We’ll find out more about whether HBO’s Watchmen succeeds when it debuts in October.