The Leftovers creator, Damon Lindelof, is reportedly talking a new adaptation project for HBO. The cable and the writer are in talks to develop Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen comics.
The news comes as good news for Watchmen fans, who last saw the 2009 Zack Snyder adaptation that caused mixed reactions.
Back for a new adaptation
Looks like Damon Lindelof may be going back to work for HBO. Fresh off the critically acclaimed series finale of “The Leftovers.” Lindelof is in talks to develop an adaptation of the comic book series “Watchmen” to the network.
Critically lauded “The Leftovers” adaptation is just the latest project Lindelof’s been. He served as co-creator for the HBO three-season run.
Lindelof is no stranger to “Watchmen”. In 2009, he told Comic Book Resources that “Watchmen” had influenced his own writing more than anything else he had ever read.
For anyone who watched “Lost”, that inspiration should be apparent. He served as co-creator. The series was filled with the use of flashbacks to the sprawling cast of profoundly flawed characters, both core to the “Watchmen” story.
This influence is also felt in his other works, all printed with a dark tone. Lindelof has been a writer on many high-profile films, including “Prometheus”, “World War Z”, and “Star Trek Into Darkness”.
Satirizing the heroes
Written by renowned comic book writer Alan Moore along with art design by Dave Gibbons, the comic is known for a brilliant nonlinear narrative and pointed political commentary.
The comic premiered in 1985. It was a serious-minded deconstruction of superhero comics loosely inspired by characters from the Charlton Comics library, which were owned by DC.
The story takes place in an alternate reality where superheroes helped the United States win the Vietnam War and Nixon was never impeached. This sets the comic’s storyline around the U.S. heading towards a third world war in 1985.
The story focuses on the personal development and moral struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement.
Structured, at times, as a nonlinear narrative, the story skips through space, time and plot. In the same manner, entire scenes and dialogue have parallels with others through synchronicity, coincidence, and repeated imagery.
The comic made its characters iconic, delivering Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and Rorschach.
Published in separate issues from 1986 to 1987 and then bound into a single collected volume, “Watchmen.” Which was picked by Time Magazine as one of the 100 greatest English-language novels published since 1923.
It’s also the only comic to make it on that list. And the BBC has hailed its publication as “the moment comic books grew up.”
The unadaptable graphic novel
Many have called the graphic novel “unadaptable,” and truth be told its sheer ambition is difficult to distil into movie or series.
The graphic novel collection was first turned into a movie in 2009 by Zach Synder for Warner Bros. but was divisive with critics and fans.
While critics praised the film’s visual style they also said that the crucial subtleties of Moore’s work failed to translate to screen. As a biting parody of comic books, some critics argued, “Watchmen” could only work as a comic itself, and not as a film or TV series.
Following this idea, the novel has also been attempted to adapt in a series format.
In 2014 HBO did an attempt to adapt it to a miniseries, the project was alongside Zack Snyder, but it never materialized and eventually fell off.
Perhaps, what was really required was the right person to adapt it. And that’s when Lindelof comes in.
Lindelof comes to the rescue
In Lindelof, HBO has an experienced, successful showrunner who’s already adapted a written work into a critically acclaimed TV series and he’s also apparently passionate about the source material.
And Lindelof’s adaptation of “The Leftovers” leaves much to look forward when it comes to his work and vision.
When the drama ended in spectacular fashion a few weeks ago, Lindelof joined a very short list of television showrunners who have completed more than one show on his own terms.
HBO allowed Lindelof to carry out his vision for “The Leftovers” and end it precisely when he wanted to, and the network is likely to do the same for Watchmen, a work that Lindelof knows far better than he knew Perrotta’s “The Leftovers” novel.
This second HBO attempt at developing the series would be starting over from scratch independent of the previous effort with Snyder.
More importantly, if successful, Lindelof’s “Watchmen” series, with “Westworld”, could help fill the void that will be left at HBO when its crown jewel “Game of Thrones“ leaves the air next year.
HBO has the hardest part out of the way: Finding the person who gives the network the best chance at proving that something’s only unadaptable until it’s adapted successfully.