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

It’s a great book. I do not think it is a must read if you have seen the movie. The movie tells it pretty well.

It is however worth reading. I do not regret reading it after the movie.

Regarding the rest that are mentioned. Doomsday Clock etc. I think Watchmen are better without them. If you can read them and appreciate them for what they are - go ahead they are enjoyable reads. But in my opinion they do not add value to the watchmen saga, as much as they leech on the watchmen saga to make themselves stronger.

I think the TV show is the only part of the Watchmen saga beyond the original story that adds more value to the legend than it takes.


I feel like the Watchmen film, typical for Zack Snyder, is true to the letter if not the spirit of the work. I’m conflicted on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing since I emphatically don’t think Moore’s Watchmen is very good.

Watchmen, the comic, I have mixed feelings on. I didn’t really enjoy it much. It’s overly wordy, the artwork lacks energy (which fits the comic itself I guess), and I disagree with a lot of Alan Moore’s opinions which inform the comic. It’s historically important and opened a lot of doors, but it set a lot of bad precedents in terms of edgy comics storytelling.

So, I took your advice and checked the Watchmen Comic out digitally from my Local Library. I read an issue each day for twelve days.

I love the Watchmen Comic.


You know something that’s great about Watchmen? (the comic). You’ll totally notice different things every time you read it. Moore has said he designed it that way and it’s been true for me.


Now that I know I like it, I plan to buy the hardcover soon.


So, in your own estimation, should someone read the comic, or do you think that the movie is sufficient for understanding the story?


This is a very difficult question to answer. On a technical level, I do believe that the movie is sufficient for understanding the story (so long as someone clues the person into the changed ending.)

However, I feel that the comic does a far superior job at presenting the story.

This is going to sound horrible, but thefoolkieran.19908 actually was the person who pushed me to finally read Watchmen because of a comment he made that addressed the core of my issue that I wasn’t sure was polite to ask out loud.

I actually found long swaths of the film to be rather boring. And, for that matter, he’s right; the comic is never boring.

I guess sometimes I should be more honest and forthright with my questions. But, I also try to reign myself in because sometimes I can be very opinionated and outspoken to my own detriment. I’ve actually been banned from a lot of fan forums in the past for being too blunt with people. (Hence, one of the reasons why I named myself Insufferable Damian. Because I have his effect on people sometimes.)

In asking, ‘Is Watchmen really worth buying to read it if I already saw the movie?’ I was essentially trying to figure out, ‘Is the comic worth the money? Because I found the movie to be mostly boring. Does the comic do a better job at telling the story in a way that I will actually care?’ The movie touched on some interesting ideas. I enjoyed the visuals. But, overall, I was mostly checking the time to see how much longer I had for it to be done.

I watched the movie around a year ago and don’t remember a lot of it specifically. I plan to watch it again soon and form a more complete opinion on it. So, this is kind of an unfair comparison. But, here are my views from what I remember of it.

The movie did a horrible job at making me care about its characters. I think the movie was made with the idea that people already read the comic and knew and cared about these characters.

For instance, the opening montage was very confusing. It referenced a bunch of ‘old time’ things in rapid succession. I presumed these were older Watchmen characters correctly from what I did read about the story. But, did not really understand until watching this montage part again recently for reference that this was a lot of quick nods to story elements that the movie didn’t have the time to cover properly.

The entire movie felt like that, really. Trying to do its best to quickly cover a bunch of story content that it didn’t really have the time to cover properly.

I think the movie suffers from this because, not having had the background of having read the the comic first, the characters came off to me as generic ‘off-brand’ Superhero cliches rather than as actual characters. Because of this, I did not emotionally connect with any of them and did not really care what happened with any of them. I think that’s why I was so bored with them. It’s difficult to emotionally invest in characters that haven’t been ‘sold’ to me or ‘earned.’

I found Laurie to be mopey, Dan was boring and tragic, the Comedian was an ass, Manhattan was emotionally detached and empty, and Rorschach was just plain psychotic. So, I wasn’t entirely sure who I was supposed to care about. But I didn’t care about any of them.

The only character I liked in the film was Ozymandias. But, he didn’t have nearly enough screen time. And, like the others, he was woefully underdeveloped. Even still, he came off as (let me think of a nice word to use here) full of himself. But, at least he was doing something to help. Even though I get the feeling that I’m supposed to feel that what he did was ‘wrong’ or ‘morally ambiguous.’ The film seems to be telling me that’s what I’m supposed to feel with film grammar.

I also absolutely hated how Laurie’s Mom was portrayed in the movie. She came off as a reclusive Hollywood type trying desperately to recapture her youth whilst being overbearing on her daughter. She had no redeeming qualities. I guess I was supposed to feel sorry for what happened to her. The film seemed to be telling me to be, again, film grammar. But, she was so horribly unlikable as a whole that I just couldn’t stand the scenes she was in. I got (and I know this isn’t exactly the correct term to use here in this situation) ‘gold digger’ vibes from the character. She just came off as full of herself, repugnant, and I just felt that the character had no redeeming qualities at all and did not know why the film kept acting like I was supposed to care about her. I could see why Laurie hated her and the character was largely estranged. I wouldn’t want to spend any time with this character either.

This is tragic, because I got an entirely different impression from the character in the comic. In the comic, she comes off as a kindly elderly woman who is reminiscing about her past. Sure, she’s a bit overbearing; but many Mothers are. In fact, I actually felt sorry for her throughout the entire comic and felt that Laurie was being mean to her. Her relationship with the Comedian came off as more honest and subtle; multi-layered. By the end, I saw their story as a tragedy. Because she clearly did still love him. If he hadn’t assaulted her, they could have been a great couple together and lived a happy life. Yet, she was the one tragically left with the shame and the guilt. I felt she hated him for the assault, but still had feelings for him anyway; and thus internalized this in blaming herself partially as well as blaming him. Yet, she was still protective of her daughter to spite her continued feelings for him. Laurie didn’t know the full truth, which her Mom hid from her out of I feel shame herself and for protecting Laurie.

Watchmen, the comic, has a through story that is complimented with intertwining stories that all together make the full story.

Watchmen, the movie, almost exclusively fallows the through story with as many nods as can be quickly squeezed in to the intertwining stories.

Because of this, Watchmen, the comic, is a fully fleshed out, multi-layered, full body, storytelling experience.

By contrast, Watchmen, the movie, is ‘Watchmen Lite.’ It gets the job done. It’s beautifully filmed. But, it’s certainly the watered down version of the two.

The intertwining stories paint the characters as real people with hobbies, interests, histories, and motivations. It doesn’t leave them, as the film does, as empty, off-brand, Superhero cliches. I think this is a huge reason why I cared about them in the comic. As well as the comic just taking more time to build the characters in general. Also, the intertwining stories do a lot with world building and really showing how the events effect different people at different stations in society. As apposed to so closely fallowing the main characters almost entirely exclusively.

Again, I think a lot of the movie’s difficulties were around the pacing and time constraints of its medium. So many story points were better developed in the comic and came off as cliché to me in the film. Like, in the comic, they build the relationships between Manhattan and Laurie and Laurie and Dan in a way that I cared. Whereas in the movie the love triangle came off as cliche and boring to me. I guess the key word here would be underdeveloped; due to time constraints and pacing. In the movie, it’s like, ‘They’re in a love triangle. Care about it.’ And I’m like, ‘Nah, I just kind of don’t.’ It didn’t feel earned to me in the film. It’s like the story was just thrust on me and I was expected to just care on the face of it.

So, in the comic, Manhattan was a complex character going through the transition of realizing what his powers meant to people who cared about him and he cared about; as well as how his mere presence effected the entire world. Dan and Laurie had a sweet romance that about both of them finding themselves and each other; especially Laurie. It was quite a journey of her finding herself. Even Rorschach felt more human to me.

I remember a scene where he was telling off the Land Lady for the lies she told to the paper about him and saw her son staring back up at him and he backed off because it mirrored his childhood and I felt like I understood a human side to his character in that moment.

This is indicative to the comic experience as a whole. Each character has these fleshed out moments that, in the comic, feel earned and paint the characters as full people. They felt like humans instead of cliches.

I even felt sorry for the Comedian in the flashback because he realized the price he paid for what he had done. That he can’t ever talk with his own daughter, because of what he did to her Mother. I remember looking at the pictures in that scene and he looked sad; remorseful. Like it finally fell upon him a real consequence for his action. The realization of the family he could have had, but now never can. Maybe I’m giving the Comedian too much credit. But, in my view, he looked sad there.

The comic also presents Ozymandias as a well rounded character. His personality is fleshed out and he is concerned about whether or not he did do the right thing. He is still my favorite character. I still think, given his situation, that he made the right choice. But, it’s clear that this weighs on him more in the comic.

So, in summation, I feel that someone could technically get by with just the watching the movie. But, then the person would be cheating himself or herself out a much better experience. The movie is decent. It has great moments. But, it works much betters as a compliment to the comic after having already read the comic. Looking back, I would have rather read the comic first myself.

That said, that is why I voted “yes” to the comic being required in my own poll. Because, even though you could skate by with just the movie, it’s certainly not the experience that I would recommend.

So, ‘No, you don’t have to read it, strictly speaking; if you’ve already seen the movie. But, yes, you certainly should.’ If I had phrased my original question to ‘should you’ instead of ‘is it required’ then my “yes” to my own poll would make more technical sense.

Reading the comic is required if you want to actually care about the characters and experience the story from the beginning to the end without ever becoming bored. At least, that was my experience with it.


Did you see the theatrical cut or the director’s cut? Zack Snyder has repeatedly run into the problem of Warner Brothers cutting out significant portions of his films. In this case, the director’s cut is over 20 minutes longer. That said, any single film adaptation of a 12-issue series is going to be heavily compromised, especially one as dense and complex as Watchmen.

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Whichever one was on DCU. I think it’s the same cut on HBO Max currently. I think it was the Theatrical Cut.

I’m thinking about maybe getting the 4K set because it includes the Ultimate Cut and the Director’s Cut and I’m wondering if I’ll like those versions of the movie better.

And I think that was the core of my problem with it. Everything I read about it ahead of time kept explaining how the comic is deep and complex storytelling and I didn’t get that at all from the version of the film that I watched. I felt the characters were rather flat.

Again, who knows, maybe I was just in a bad mood the day when I watched it or something. Hope I haven’t offended anyone. I just remember feeling bored and disappointed by the end of it. I felt it didn’t live up to the hype that everyone had around Watchmen. So, frankly, I was afraid to read the comic because I was afraid I’d just end up bored and disappointed again. Luckily, I wasn’t. The comic is as good as everyone says it is.


I will say that it is. When you read the entire book it all gels together so much better. There is good reason why Time magazine listed it in their 100 best novels of the 20th century. If you don’t want to buy it (you could try used for cheaper price) but it’s entirely possible your library might have it. (See list of 100 greatest novels of 20th century)

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Will will say one of Snyder’s better talents is his ability to translate comic to screen. Say what you will about his story telling but the mans a great cinematographer and anyone who’s read 300 or Watchmen know he can adapt imagery well. For that reason you’re right in the fact that you’ve pretty much seen it. But he does change a couple major beats. One of which I didn’t mind but the other I wasn’t too fond of. He also leaves a good chunk out. Which is mainly exposition and more character study stuff but it still added to whats one of the more memorable reading experiences of my younger comic book days.


Without a doubt the movie is beautifully shot. Perhaps I was too harsh in my criticisms of it? I do plan to watch it again soon, and likely the longer cuts of the film.

I don’t doubt his talents as a filmmaker. I have enjoyed his other DC works on HBO Max and look forward to his cut of the Justice League.

My main point, to use your words, was that without the

I felt emotionally disconnected from the film. The comic explores it’s themes through the character study. So, without that to go off of in the film the characters felt empty to me.

I love the film’s cenimatogropy, lighting, score. As an audio video work it is well crafted and interesting. I think it would be enjoyable to fans of the comic to see these characters brought to life on screen, as a compliment to the comic after having read it. I actually think that I will enjoy the film more on a second viewing, now that I know who these characters are.

Truly, it was an impossible task from the start. It was called unfilmable for good reason. If anything, it should have been a twelve episode series, each episode an hour long to corispond to each book. It should never have been filmed as a theatrical release because that timeframe is not enough to tell this story. If everyone involved in the film stayed the same, but did it that way, I am confident I would have loved it.

Still, I’m glad we have it as opposed to not having it. But it feels more like an over two hours effects reel and proof of concept as opposed to a vehicle for telling the story proper in its fullness. It’s interesting to watch, but it leaves me wondering what this same team could have done if this was a mini series that had the time to explore the characters as much as they explores the special effects and the plot.

The film, to me as I saw it, carried the emotional resonance of watching the Wikipedia plot summary brought to life by clearly talented hands. I don’t feel he lacked the talent to tell this story, I feel he lacked the time.

I grade the comic an A and the movie version I saw a C.

A: Loved it.
B: Liked it.
C: It was decent.
D: I did not like it.
F: I hated it.

It felt like there was so much plot it had to get to in so little time that it didn’t have time to characterize its characters. I understand why that happened, but it still happened.


Both actually. If only for the simple fact that it proves there are certain things that work in a movie and certain things that work in a comic. The ending of the comic would not have worked for the film and would have been too ridiculous for the tone of the film.

While they are both similar, the movie has a darker and somewhat more realistic (yes I did just say that about a film that has a naked blue guy who is basically a god and I do realize how ridiculous it is) tone. It’s still a satire, but it’s more of a satire for a comic book movie that hasn’t been seen for a while when it came out. Tim Burton’s Batman movies were almost 20 years ago, the Dark Knight trilogy just started and Zack Snyder didnt start his Superman yet. So it was a satire of what is still to come while the comic was a satire of what was happening at the time.

The basic story is the same, but the nuances of each medium are what make it different for understanding and enjoyment



I think you hit the nail on the head here in this post. When I saw it in theaters, I took my girlfriend (now wife) and she felt the same as you because she didn’t read the graphic novel. She thought it was beautifully filmed (as all of Zack’s movies are) but lacked the emotional core to make the movie beyond being ok.

And I know this is true because she does like almost every other comic book movie based on comics she doesn’t read. True some are down to the actors (Iron Man), but what each have that Watchmen didn’t, are more rounded characters that hide the sometimes shoddy writing.

I like Zack Snyder’s work. I think he has talent and is an awesome storyteller. But I think his hype, understanding of characters and studio interference hinder a lot of his work. The Batman V. Superman directors cut did make more sense than the theatrical version, but it still had “Martha” and the whole Doomsday thing in it.

In the end, it’s about story and characters and how it makes you feel when it comes to enjoying something. For adaptions, I think it comes down to seeing how it’s done and understanding (you don’t have to like it) the differences the adaption has to offer. The interesting thing with comic book adaptions is that it’s already visualized. With prose, you have to make the words into a picture for a movie. You kind of have more room for interpretation and changes to the source. It’s hard to put into words the way a character looks that makes you feel something.

With comics, it’s already drawn and the only budget is the limit of the imagination. It’s harder to adapt because it’s already done and people have that visual stuck in their heads.

Us comic fans are a very fickle people. We shout for joy when our favorite comic becomes a movie, but then immediate criticize it without seeing it when we can’t see a certain actor portraying the roll.


I would say Watchmen’s a must if you’ve seen the movie, as there are differences between the two, some being substantial.

Reading the comic will likely enhance your movie experience.


We certainly have different standards. I’ll give Snyder credit for reverse-engineering what needs to come before plucking a shot straight off the page. His palette is slightly darker than it should be. He is not as meticulous about set dressing. However, I have to disagree that you can give a director for bring beautifully shot if he can’t make characters have an emotional. If characterization is an afterthought, and you see it uniformly across the film, that is a substantial failure of the director.

I’d give Watchmen a solid C as a movie, but it easily could have been a very strong B, and I think a lot of that falls on the director.

I shan’t comment on his “trilogy”. People might be trying to hold down food.

Not a Kubrick fan, then? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Nope. The only place he really had a grip on his characters was Clockwork Orange. It is the characters how he used them and the performances he got from them that make that movie. It isn’t “beautifully shot”, although the cinematography is really good, it’s not “pretty”, but neither is clockwork orange.

I find directors that need to throw in their occasional “beauty shots of the … oh look how clever I am” bore me. Yes, technically they may be beautiful, but so often don’t serve the film. The intro competition montage in WW84 would have been much better had it been more personal perspective through a Diana’s eyes this was hit and miss through that scene. Give us that entire scene through Diana’s perspective filter. That would have served it better, IMNSHO.

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I consider “beauty shots” to be essential. Otherwise, you might as well be watching television. (Would anyone in Hollywood have bothered with widescreen ratios if not for TV?) And furthermore, if James Bond is going to Japan, then I want to see some gratuitous shots of the Japanese landscape in my Little Nellie sequence! :stuck_out_tongue:

(This ties back to the Watchmen movie because…um…it has gratuitous shots, too?!)