Originally published by DC Comics in 1980s, it is safe to say that "Watchmen" has become both a creative and a commercial success.
With the efforts of the creative team of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins, the series has been recognized in TIME Magazine's All-TIME 100 Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923.
In 2009, the comic series was first adapted into a feature film directed by Zack Snyder and received mostly positive reception. In the same year, a video game series, "Watchmen: The End is Nigh," was likewise launched. The prequel miniseries "Before Watchmen" was released by DC Comics in 2012, along with "Doomsday Clock" which stood as a sequel to the original series.
Now, this 2019, Watchmen has regained its spot in the limelight as it makes a comeback as a television series.
"What, in 2019, is the equivalent of the nuclear standoff between the Russians and the United States?" asked series creator Damon Lindelof at the 2019 Television Critics Association press tour in July. "It just felt like it was undeniably race and policing in America."
Lindelof chose not to take an exact adaptation of the source material, talking of how he wanted to connect the world inside his series to the real-world problems of today. He intended to present the image of a superhero in the actual tangible world.
Through Watchmen, the creator aimed to explore the long and still ongoing history of the racial tensions in America, something that he admits to be "a scary choice."
"That scared the [expletive] out of me," Lindelof admitted, via Los Angeles Times. "But everybody I talked to thought it was a potentially exciting idea. It would need to be handed delicately and [responsibly]. Simultaneously, the show is about to drop and I'm still thinking, 'Should we have done it?' Even though I'm well-intentioned, I'm probably going to step in it a bunch of times."
Most superhero stories center in a white man from the metropolis. But a superhero in the person of a black woman from the middle of the country? Now that is something unheard of.
The new "Watchmen" takes a shift in the superhero perspective, as the story tackles the relevant issue of racism and brutality against the African Americans, all while centering in an African American woman, Sister Night, as the caped main protagonist.
What's more, the original story plot has been merge with references on actual historical events, portraying the violent images of black people getting tortured and killed.
While it is true that this HBO adaptation of "Watchmen" has a hopeful intention of giving a fresh touch to the original story while simultaneously tackling issues of political and cultural relevance, individual viewers have their different takes on the matter. The creators, however, are well-aware of the risk that they have taken.
While The Washington Post reviewed Watchmen as a "fantastic riff on race and justice" and an "excellent reason to keep HBO." Meanwhile, USA Today criticized its message as "somewhat muddied," further adding that "a show juggling so many elements always has the potential to come tumbling down."
The series has inevitably caused a handful netizens to raise their brows, with a few even calling it a dreary and pointless lecture on race issues.
The new "Watchmen" premiered Sunday, Oct. 20 on HBO.