Comic Vs. Movie

10 Differences Between the Watchmen Comic and Movie

Catch Watchmen Thursday, December 17th at 6P ET/PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

In 1986, writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins upended the public’s perception of comic books. With the limited series Watchmen, the trio created a gorgeously emotional and sophisticated work of comic book fiction that could go toe-to-toe with the most esteemed literary classics. (In fact, Time Magazine placed it on its list of the 100 best novels of the modern era.) So it was only a matter of time before the resurgence of the comic book movie would generate enough momentum to push Watchmen to the big screen — which it did in 2009.

Of course, given such treasured source material, fans (and Moore alike) were understandably wary of the film adaptation and how the paneled page would translate to the moving picture. But by using the comic as an established storyboard, director Zack Snyder was able to maintain much of the look and feel of the original work.

However, there are still multiple differences between Watchmen the book and Watchmen the movie. Before you catch Watchmen on IFC, check out 10 ways the two titles differ from one another. (Note: Spoilers abound!)

1. The level of superhuman strength is greatly increased in the film.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

The original Watchmen story chronicles the lives of average (albeit keenly trained) people who don costumes to fight crime and injustice. Aside from the godlike Doctor Manhattan, caped crusaders are limited to the peaks of human strength in the real world. Comparatively in Snyder’s film, the Watchmen are literally superhuman, with the ability to punch through concrete walls and withstand skull-crushing collisions with marble tables.

2. The Black Freighter subplot isn’t in the movie.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

Acting as both a comic-within-a-comic meta narrative as well as a framing device, the swashbuckling Tales of the Black Freighter — featuring a shipwrecked mariner, an ominous ocean liner, and a raft of dead bodies — provides a metaphor-heavy counterpart to the main plot. But in order to keep the film at a reasonable length, the Black Freighter subplot was scrapped for the theatrical version. (An animated version of the story was released direct-to-video a few weeks after the film’s release.)

3. The character backstories are simplified for the movie.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

Watchmen has a rich and storied history for the main characters, flashing back to conversations and events that directly influenced their actions. Although the novel had over 400 pages to work with multiple storylines, many of them had to be condensed or excised for the sake of the film’s running time. However, Snyder successfully sums up several narratives with a stylized credits sequence that showcases key historical moments with single slow-motion shots, which critics and fans hailed as arguably the best part of the movie.

4. The Keene Act is more important in the comic.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

Along with personal histories, broader world events were pared down in the movie — among them being the law against costumed vigilantes known as the Keene Act. The book presents a fuller explanation for the public’s derision toward superheroes and how it led to their collective retirement as well as four terms for President Nixon. Although a fake Keene Act PSA from 1977 was released as a promotion, the movie barely addresses the legislative ban.

5. Comic book Nite Owl is more vulnerable.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

To go with his paunchy stomach, the book version of Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl has character flaws and vulnerabilities that go beyond the physical. He’s not nearly as confident as he is in the movie (you’d never see him grin before a fight, for example) and his fear of Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan is palpable in light of the clear threats they pose to him. And speaking of Rorschach…

6. Rorschach’s character-defining moment is handled differently in the film.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

The original Watchmen places more emphasis on the moment where Rorschach murders the child molester, depicting it as the moment he adopted his halting speech and truly became the deranged sociopath we all know and love. On the page, he cuffs the guy to his stove and sets his house on fire, leaving him to choose whether to hack off a limb or burn to death. On the screen, it’s multiple whacks to the noggin with a meat cleaver.

7. The inherent humor of Watchmen merchandise is lost in the film.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

While warning Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias of a possible mask-killer, Rorschach notices a line of Watchmen toys on Veidt’s desk and mocks his willingness to “prostitute” his persona for a line of “toy soldiers.” Since Hollywood would never denigrate the possibility of a merchandising tie-in, that mockery is omitted and replaced with Nite Owl happily musing at the tiny action figures on Ozy’s shelf.

8. Silk Spectre’s confrontation with The Comedian doesn’t happen in the film.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

The very complex relationship between the original Silk Spectre and the Comedian includes sexual encounters both forced and consensual — the former of which causes Laurie Jupiter aka Silk Spectre II to publicly confront the Comedian and throw a drink in his face, the latter of which resulted in Laurie. The Comedian is left tongue-tied and unable to inform Laurie of his biological relationship to her. No such scene exists in the movie.

9. Nite Owl doesn’t witness Rorschach’s death in the comic.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

A man of his convictions, Rorschach tells Doctor Manhattan in the book that the only way to stop him from exposing Veidt and his destructive actions is to kill him. Manhattan obliges by disintegrating Rorschach. Meanwhile, Nite Owl is making time with Silk Spectre and misses his death — unlike the movie, where Nite Owl witnesses Rorschach being vaporized and the resulting inkblot stain causes him to scream in angry disbelief.

10. The movie ending’s source of mass destruction is very different.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

DC Comics/Warner Bros.

In the book, Ozymandias’ master plan to unite the world to fight a common enemy comes in the form of a giant psychic squid teleported to the center of New York City. This plot doesn’t involve changing the public’s perception toward Doctor Manhattan and declaring him the scourge of humanity. This, however, is central to the movie’s ending wherein Veidt’s actions frame Manhattan as a destructive force that needs to be stopped.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was written, produced, directed and narrated by Robert Evans. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on and the IFC app.

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