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Watchmen

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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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

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Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

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You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

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Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

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Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

SistersWeekend_101_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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