The reason Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie (which, to clarify, is not what we're recommending here) feels like an airless simulacra of the book is due to a fundamental dissonance between its reverence for the original and the basic disrespect that comes with being a party to Watchmen's corporate exploitation. But showrunner Damon Lindelof has chosen instead to steer into that disrespect, openly and thoughtfully rearranging and replacing the building blocks of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' graphic novel by sequelizing it with his single-season miniseries. And as a result, HBO’s version investigates themes and ideas the book barely, if ever, touched on. The decision to reframe the whole of masked vigilantism as a form of therapy through the lens of America's fundamental, institutionalized, and unending traumatization of Black people feels alarming, shocking, and meaningful in ways Moore never got at. As an act of retconning, it's maybe the single most audacious and successful example in all genre fiction.

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