Is Watchmen Really a Must Read If You Already Watched the Movie?

Do I really need to read Watchmen to get into modern Watchmen things; or is the movie good enough?
  • Yes, it is a must read classic!
  • If you saw the movie, you’re pretty much good to go.

0 voters

Having watched the Watchmen movie, do I have a good enough understanding of the characters to start reading the modern crossover comics and start watching the Watchmen series on HBO Max?

I ask because sometimes adaptations differ quite a bit from the original source material and sense I never read the original Watchmen I am afraid that I might end up being confused jumping into these comics and the show.

I’m honestly still very new to comics in general. I have been reading a lot of them on here. But, that’s largely because this platform is such a great deal financially. I am having fun. But, I’m not really that into collecting. And, frankly, rarely have I yet re-read a comic I’ve already read. (I did re-read Three Jokers.)

I would love to read Watchmen. But, I don’t really want to buy it. I was hoping it would come to (or someday will come to) DCUI. I enjoyed the movie well enough, but not as much as other DC Comics I’ve read or DC Films I’ve watched.

I kind of have a feeling that I’d be like ‘Oh, this was pretty close to the movie that I already watched. It was nice to read it once for the experience of having done so. I can see why this is a classic. Now, I will probably never physically touch this book again. It will sit on my shelf forever. I paid $15 for it and will likely not even be able to sell if for $3 (because mostly everyone else who’s interested already has purchased a copy or wants to buy it new and not used) and now I will be down about two months of what I pay for DCUI just to have read something that’s more or less what I already saw in the movie.’

I just don’t think buying Watchmen for $15 is something I can really cost justify to myself. Especially if I already got the gist of it with the movie. So, that puts me in the odd boat of either using the movie as a substitute for the book or buying a book that I will read once for $15 that I will likely never read again or ever get my money back on through selling it. (It’s not like it’s an original printing or anything worth any real re-sell value.)

It’s not that I’m not interested in reading it. I can just think of all the other things I could use that money for. Honestly, before DCU and now DCUI, that’s been the big show stopper as to why I never got into reading comics until about a year ago. I’m cheap, I usually read comics once and then never again, and could never cost justify them to myself until they were put out here in a well priced subscription format.

DCUI makes it so that if I read 2-3 comics a month I more than cost-justify the membership. I clear that hurdle easily. DC Comics are very fun to read and I very much enjoy this platform. But, and I know not everyone is the same way, I kind of see physical print as a thing of the past. It takes shelf space. What if I don’t like the story I just purchased? In Watchmen’s case (and I know this sounds horrible to so many) what if the movie was close enough and I feel I just wasted my money to read a story I already watched?

A sort of ‘Wow, I just paid about an entire month of HBO Max just to read the same story I already watched a year go. Think of how much I could have watched on HBO Max for that money. That’s about two months of DCUI. Think of how many more comics I could have read in two months for that same money.’ I guess that’s part of being 32 years old. I’ve started becoming less impulsive with my money and have started to rate almost every purchase against each other. So, $15 to buy Watchmen in paperback is something I may not have blinked at in my 20’s; but now it feels like pulling teeth. Especially if I don’t need to actually read it to jump into the newer stuff that references the characters.

I’m sure it’s a fine book. I don’t doubt its quality or historical significance. I’m just afraid, having already seen the movie, that I would walk away from the purchase feeling ‘Wow… I really spent $15 to read something I already watched.’ Then cry a little bit inside.

I guess this is another fair question. Is Watchmen as a graphic novel really so amazing that even having seen the film that it’s still worth buying and experiencing in its original form?

I mean, the book was published before I was even born. I have no nostalgia connection to it at all. The only Watchmen anything I’ve ever read or seen was the one movie. I enjoyed the film, but I honestly liked the Dark Knight a lot better. I kind of felt the film was ‘ok.’ Everyone likes different things. I can see why the book was popular and important (having read about it;) but the movie didn’t ‘wow me’ like the Dark Knight did. It was certainly worth watching once, but I’m unlikely to ever watch it again unless I get a boyfriend and he wants to watch it with me or something.

I just don’t know if I can cost justify the $15 to myself to buy in book form a movie I enjoyed watching once but wasn’t exactly ‘wowed’ by. :man_shrugging:

I can see taking the time to read it if it were on here. But, I just can’t bring myself to pay money to buy it just to read it once. Unless I’m still just missing something about it that everyone else knows.

Everyone talks about how great it is. Maybe I’m being too cheap and should just buy it one of these days. :man_shrugging:

But, yeah, this is more or less the inner dialogue I’ve had with myself over wether or not to buy Watchmen sense I heard about it for the first time when the movie went to theaters back around 2009. So, wow, almost 12 years ago. I didn’t even see the movie until about a year ago on DCU. For context, I watched the Dark Knight in theaters when it hit theaters.

My interest in Watchmen, more than anything, comes from its historical importance and that everyone keeps telling me how great it is. It doesn’t really come from my being personally nostalgic or over the moon for the material in any first hand way myself. I keep getting drawn back to it for no other reason than the history of comics keeps pointing it to me as a ‘must read title’ and everyone always says how amazing it is. So… I kind of just feel like it’s one of the things I’m ‘supposed to do’ now that I’m getting into comics but not something I have any real personal passion for doing as I have no emotional connection to it.

It’s kind of like for most younger people today being told when they get into gaming that they just absolutely have to play the original Super Mario Brothers, or Doom, because it’s such an important game to gaming history. It’s sort of a right of initiation into being a gamer that you just need to have played it at least once.

That’s how I feel about Watchmen, honestly. I have no real personal interest in it. But, now that I’m getting into DC Comics and have been for over a year now, I can’t get away from everyone telling me that it’s one of those initiation ‘must read’ things to do. I almost feel like it’s a chore, really.

I really got into the Killing Joke because it has Batman and the Joker and I love Batman and the Joker; even before I got into comics; even more so now that I have gotten into comics. So, reading that was a treat for me.

But, Watchmen always kind of felt like an initiation obligation that I’ll probably have to get to reading at one point or another so that I can have a personal opinion on it than anything that I would have likely gravitated towards myself. I like smiley faces. So, the cover is attractive to me. :grinning:

But, it seems like it didn’t really have an effect on modern DC characters until years after when they did the cross over with it. So, now I feel like it’s almost more of a thing I need to get around to doing.

I don’t know. Welcome to my penny pinching nightmare. lol

Anyone else ever been in the situation where you got into something new and everyone just kept throwing something at you from that media that you had no interest in? But, it became unavoidable because it is so well known and historically important? So, you feel obligated to experience it for no other reason than ‘Oh, it’s so good. It changed the medium forever. You just have to experience it. Every fan of the medium just owes it to themselves to have experienced it.’

I have in horror films. And, from personal experience, this situation is very hit and miss based on personal taste. Everyone enjoys a different cup of tea. To me, A Nightmare on Elm Street, masterpiece, Friday the 13Th, fun, Halloween; important but sometimes overrated. More important for paving the way for the genre that would fallow it than for most of what it did itself. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, overrated, not fun, kind of boring honestly. The remake was much better. Original is kind of a massive let down, to me at least. Hellraiser, decent but the sequels after 1 and 2 were way better than the originals (but never tell the fans that.)

And so, see, that’s where I’ve always been stuck on with Watchmen. Considering I only considered the movie ‘fun enough to deserve watching at least once but would not personally go out of my way to watch again.’ Am I going to see the graphic novel as any better?

Is Watchmen, like Halloween in my example, something that was more historically important for the history of comics, paving the way for better things to come after it than it was in and of itself? I see Halloween as important because it paved the way for the slasher genre; but I personally enjoy the Freddy and Jason films much more than Halloween.

I kind of feel like Watchmen will feel similar to me. Something historically important for the art form that paved the way for other DC Comics that I actually enjoy a lot more.

Or, I could be wrong and Watchmen is an amazing graphic novel and will blow my mind.

Is it required reading? Is it really that much better than the movie? Can someone who has read it and watched the movie let me know? Thank you.


The short answer: yes. It’s a classic story and the nuance of the artwork is really lost in the movie.


I’m going to go against the grain here. It is a classic, it’s historically important, it’s a great read. But, is it necessary? Are you gaining a greater understanding of DC or it’s most important characters by reading it? No. Read it if you want, you’ll probably enjoy it, but I wouldn’t worry if you don’t feel like reading it.


The TV series follows the comic, not the film. The differences are sometimes minor, and at other times, they’re as big as a giant space squid.


See, and those are the kind of things I am worried about. I get that reference from things I’ve read about the comic and its adaptation into film.

You’ve given me good advice in the past. Is Watchmen worth the cost to buy it? I was actually holding out until DCUI launched because I was hoping it would be on here and that I could read it with the cost of membership.


The key thing to know from the comics is the different ending. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you don’t know the difference between the two endings of the film then you might be very confused. Other than that, you should be good.


Well, in weighing my opinion on the matter, you should know that I strongly prefer The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween over Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. :stuck_out_tongue:

My recommendation is that you see if a local library has Watchmen on its shelves.


Alright. Good advice. Thank you.


If you have a library card with your local library or access to the app Hoopla you can read Watchmen for free (you can borrow it for up to 21 days).


It is must read no matter what! There are so many details missed out on in the movie that the comic expands upon.


@INSUFFERABLEDAMIAN: Take the damn book off your shelf and read it. Don’t worry about what you paid for it, or the fact that you have seen the movie. Beyond its pop culture and–yes–mainstream historical significance (Time lists it as one of the top 100 English NOVELS in the last century), Watchmen is a wonderful read. It will thrill you. It will anger you. It will entertain you. It will depress you. And like all great works of fiction, it stands the test of time. It is more relevant in 2021 than it was in 1986/87.
It is rare to discover a work of art that translates well in multiple mediums. Another example is, Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. I read the book in college, and so enjoyed it, that I saw the amazing movie the first day it premiered in 1975.
Why limit yourself? When you find a gem explore all its facets.


Even if you know the story, Watchmen as a comic demonstrates a mastery of the comic book format seen rarely elsewhere. If you love comics as a storytelling medium then Watchmen is worth reading.


there is so much symbolism, relation to the current political climate, and examination of superheroes in the real world and what superheroes mean to us that gest lost in the movie. The plot is displayed in the movie but the plot didn’t make the movie. The character designs, art, and dialogue are the best part. I recently read it and DKR which I thought I didn’t have to read because of seeing the movies. You need to read it, especially DKR.


I recently read Watchmen for the first time about 8 months ago. I’ve reread it 3 times already. It’s definitely worth the $24.99, or at least I got my money’s worth out of it. I then watched the movie since I hadn’t seen it, and I was very disappointed with the end of the movie. The final line of the comic was perfect, and they muddled up at the end of the movie. I haven’t seen the HBO series, so I can’t comment on that.

I also super highly recommend Doomsday Clock. The sequel to the Watchmen. I read it on the app and am now desperately seeking out the issues for my personal collection.


I feel like if you’re a comic fan at all (I’m assuming you are if you’re here :slight_smile: ) and you’re okay reading more mature content it’s definitely worth reading, if only for the historical value and influence it’s had. It’s a very well-done and good story on its own, of course.


Yes, it is a must read, for multiple reasons.

First of all, it’s a good comic that is densely written and awesomely drawn. I have the trade and I reread it about once every year and each time not only do I notice something I haven’t before, but I also come off with an understanding why Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are the artists they are. The book is just full of believable unbelievable characters and world building. In essence, it’s more like a novel than a movie, but is perfectly suited to comics because it could really never work the way it does as a novel or a movie.

Second, as with pretty much all adaptions, the source material is superior to the movie. Zack Snyder does a good job of getting the movie and story onscreen but there’s just so much in the trade that can’t go into a 3 hour (or even 4 hour movie). There are things that can only be done in a certain media, and while movies are (and have been since the inception of moving pictures) an awesome spectacle to behold and to tell stories, part of what makes Watchmen great is the fact that it’s a comic. There are comic book references steeped into Watchmen that only historians and of the medium could find and that doesn’t lessen the fact that a newbie could come by, pick up the book and get engrossed in it. That doesn’t translate in the movie adaption. Also, while the movie was great, it was just to dark and at times, booring. The book, on the other hand, was still dark but and maybe it’s because of the colors and the fact that it’s a comic and we still tend to identify comics as for kids even though we know it’s for anyone, that there still was a lightness to it. Also, it never was boring. It wasn’t all action, but the story moved along and never lost pace.

Thirdly, the entire ending is different and only makes sense/works because it’s a comic. The result it the same in the movie and comic, but getting to that result only works in a comic and yes, it’s ridiculous and Snyder was right in saying that it’s too ridiculous for film. The tv show proved that and while it was awesome to see it, like in “they really did it and cool” way, it soon had me laughing at the ridiculousness of it. (Which is something I also would do in real life, by the way, if such a situation would occur…after fearing for my life and checking on people.). The movie version changed it in a way to make it less ridiculous and still make sense for the adaption.Again, there are somethings that can only be done in certain mediums.

Also, I’m like you in which I have to justify spending money on something. I really want this game, but is it worth spending 60 bucks on something I’ll beat in two days and not play again for a few months at least? Sometimes, yes. Yes it is.

You mention Super Mario brothers and here I have to differ from you and maybe it’s because of my age (34) and the fact I grew up with it but I view it as a right of passage not only because it’s one of the greatest games and historically important in video games, but because unlike most of today’s games where you have to use an endless combination of buttons to do a move (looking at you WWE), it’s really simple. Use directional pad to move forward, and buttons to jump. That’s it. Plus the game is endlessly enjoyable and literally everyone has played it growing up. Same with Sonic the Hedgehog. Nintendo and Sega. Good times.

Also I’m a horror fan and fellow Freddy fan. Always saw Freddy as the better of the trio and only one that made any lick of actual sense. You can kill a super strong human and can kill the reanimated, but you can never kill a nightmare. The way you feel about Halloween, (it being overrated) is how I feel about Nirvana in music. They were ok and helped spur the genre but bands such as Alice In Chains were tighter, more talented and just sounded better. They were both part of the same genre but Nirvana gets most of the attention alongside Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I think Alice In Chains should be more in that conversation.

Anyway, get the book and read it. Or hell, go to the library and read it. It’s worth it. Been fun discussing this.

Got it? Get it? Good!


Also to expand on my reply a bit, I am pushing you to read it but not because it’s historically important or because of the hype. A lot of people say Citizen Kane and Scarface are the greatest movie ever made, but I found both of them to be way overrated. I hate Citizen Kane but loved what it did for filmmaking and I’ve seen way better movies that Scarface (though Pacino was great in it).

No, I’m telling you to get it because you seem like a person who likes stories. And Watchmen, (as well as some of Moore’s other work and most of Neil Gaiman’s), is a great story. I think you’ll like it just for that.

Or to put it another way…for all Halloween did for the slasher genre, there isn’t too much of a story and the characters really aren’t that interesting. Micheal is interesting because we don’t really know or understand him but everyone else is ehh. Even Laurie Strode as a character isn’t that interesting but the way the film built suspense and Laurie becoming the final girl and the tropes that were built is what makes Halloween good.

What makes A Nightmare on Elm Street good (or even dare I say Psycho. You have to have seen Psycho. Don’t talk to me if you haven’t seen Psycho lol) is there is more of a story and we get to understand the characters better. Also, it sticks to the tropes and breaks them at the same time (kind of a theme with the late, great Wes Craven). Once again, we have the final girl, but instead of having to be saved from the psycho killer, she manages to fight back and save herself (or does she? The ending may have been dictated by New Line in hopes for a sequel, but you gotta admit it works perfectly well with the idea of nightmares.)

Watchmen is like Psycho or A Nightmare on Elm Street in that it’s a story. It’s a good story that also works in tropes and breaks them.

So give it a shot. I’d skip Doomsday clock though. Nicely drawn but eh storywise.


I’ve seen way better movies named Scarface than the Pacino film.

Howard Hawks > Brian De Palma


In fact, read all of the BEFORE WATCHMEN books first.



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Oh without a doubt. I actually prefer the originals, with few exceptions, to the remakes in movies…yet it’s the opposite in music…

Point I was making was that Pachino Scarface was overrated to me. Good, yes, but I don’t see what all the hype was about.