The Alan Moore Curse

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to Alan Moore adaptions. They are either bad because they try to adapt the material too closely, or are good because they change the source material. Films like “V for Vendetta” are dramatically different from their source and kind of change the meaning and overall feeling of the book. Same goes for writers, Tom King is a good writer, but he struggles to deconstruct Batman who speaks strangely, and uses the 9 panel grid a lot. Similar to how Moore speaks in complex texts and uses the 9 panel to fill in the gaps. What do you think?


I think the problem with adaptations of Moore’s work is that they try convert a comic book story into a film story. Alan Moore’s work was intended to be a comic not a movie, thus the adaptations suffer. This isn’t to say that adaptations can’t work. The most recent Watchmen turned out great because A) it was a TV show, which is closer to the comic format, and B) it created it’s own story rather than trying to adapt the comic.


JLU’s adaption of “For the Man Who Has Everything” is great and sticks pretty close to the source. But yeah, that’s just about it. Moore just has a very particular style. He writes for comics, and comics just tell some stories that can’t quite be tood in other mediums.


@TornadoSoup I’m glad you mentioned that JLU episode, as Moore himself has said that is one of the only adaptations of his work that he likes. I can’t speak for “V for Vendetta”, but I thought the Watchmen movie was a decent adaptation of Moore’s writing.

Obviously, there are some pretty big differences, but the beauty of having a comic book as your source material is that you have both the writing and the visuals. Take the scene with Nite Owl’s death for example. I feel like that whole moment with Hollis remembering his old villains was exactly what Moore was trying to describe, albeit in a 9 panel grid.


The Watchmen show is pretty good, and solid point

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And the Watchmen Animated Cartoon on Youtube is one he likes alot too

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I’m sure someone’s mentioned it above, but Alan Moore adaptations (or sequels, in the case of Doomsday Clock) fail because the creators of the adaptations worship the aesthetic and dialogue of Moore’s work without even beginning to understand his meaning. It’s the problem with V for Vendetta. It’s the problem with Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. It’s the problem with From Hell. It’s the problem with Doomsday Clock. The only Alan Moore adaptation/sequel/spinoff that didn’t fail was Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen TV show, and that worked because Lindelof clearly understands the message of Watchmen and knows that the only way to properly adapt that story is to sort of “remix” it, and make it relevant to 2020.


Honestly, I liked Doomsday Clock a lot. It’s hard to compare it to the original Watchmen because of how different it is. Watchmen is a critique of comics, while Doomsday Clock is a celebration of them. I think it could have been better, though, if it were Geoff Johns trying to write like Geoff Johns instead of like Alan Moore.


Not to say your opinion is invalid, but I’ve never read Watchmen as critique. It’s always felt more like an objective examination of superheroes, the good and the bad. Doomsday Clock has no subtlety; it feels like reading a life-long fan of comics ranting about how awesome Watchmen is, without really having the vocabulary or understanding to tell you why, and also making sure to mention how much he loves Superman, too. I’m not the biggest Geoff Johns fan, admittedly, but I really think Doomsday Clock missed the mark. Again, though, that’s my reading.


And, also, yeah. DC (I just realized that that’s Doomsday Clock’s acronym… which makes me feel dumb and old) would benefit from Johns leaning more into the stuff that Johns does well, and not trying to make it sound so much like Moore.

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I see it as a bit of both, I like what John did with Doctor Manhattan in the book, being the creator of the DC universe fulling his promise at the end of Watchmen, but the show has a better message and is better at understanding the book. Both versions can exist, but you can also completely ignore them and just enjoy the base book.

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I think the “curse” is two-fold: it comes from those adapting the stories trying to make something written for comics in a comic style a movie and it comes from a fan base that is very difficult to please.

It really comes down to your personal experience with the adaptation. I really enjoy The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I watched it more as a fun puppy adventure film. I know some people hate it due to the fact it doesn’t follow Moore’s story. Again, it comes down to the individual.


As apposed to the movie which made me sooo mad.

I could argue with you about this until I’m blue in the face. To condense, a narrative is a narrative, and functional story should be able to work in any format. Game of Thrones missed hundreds of intricate details, but the show retained the core bulk of the story.

I don’t think Watchment 2/HBO worked particularly well because it was episodic/a show, I think it worked well because it was well written and well directed.

I think the problem with adapting Alan Moore is that he’s a genius, and most people can’t sympathize or understand what is happening mentally within someone like that.

If you’re dumb (not meant to target anyone) and trying to adapt Alan Moore, you try to focus on something you can grasp, something understandable.

Few people can understand the existential crisis of Dr. Manhattan, even fewer people can sympathize, even fewer people can actually identify with Dr. Manhattan.

The conflicts of Moore stories are largely ethereal, they are conflicts of ideas, ideals, and of fear and other “unrealized potential energy that will imminently affect the world” as opposed to anything real.

Why don’t Manhattan and Ozy just talk to the government to stop the apocalypse? Why don’t they they just talk to each other and work together?

These are men with very different agendas and very different morals. A conflict which is essentially non-conflict/impending doom that may not actually happen if no one intervenes. It’s hard to find something so mental entertaining for people who have nothing going on mentally.

I wash dishes and debate the problems of the world. Other people wash dishes and simply focus within the moment, on the task, on the here and now, and these people do the dishes a lot faster than me.

I think League oeg is fun, but it’s not League because someone dumb who crafted the movie narrative didn’t “get it” (the comic narrative).

I think the watchmen movie is good because it is by someone who understands the material.

I think swamp thing on this service is good, but it is honestly one of Moore’s less existential works.

I think a real testament to understanding is the wakowskis vendetta, which is a great expansion of something with little substance or depth narratively but that had a lot going on mentally

You can make very good comic movies by closely following the source material. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Sin City. Road to Perdition. Persepolis. American Splendor. Ghost World. 300 (didn’t love it, but has its fans and very faithful). Dick Tracy.

I agree that Moore’s vision is almost always unique and his style is difficult to translate to the screen. I also believe things are sometimes completely adaptable and they’re ruined by watering them down for the masses. I suppose this has to take place because of the large budget of the average super hero film and having to make things middlebrow (this isn’t Moore’s style). The Swamp Thing show felt nothing like Moore’s run, but for me this felt like a production design issue. It needed to look more…Bissette. I’m concerned the same thing will soon happen with Gaiman’s brilliant Sandman.

Hollywood has always done this with adaptations though. Something sells well in print and they just have to try a screen adaptation. One of my favorite comics of all time is The Maxx. I’m kind of glad it’s too bizarre to even pitch because it would be ruined. TV seems to be working as a more faithful medium where the studio is willing to take more chances.

Actually, Maxx had a cartoon on MTV way back when.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a movie that I watch because I don’t have time to read the 1400 pages of the comic again. I don’t really enjoy the movie for the movie, rather I enjoy that I’m reminded of the story of the comic without the immense time commitment of reading it (a commitment that I have already made three times over). The movie forgets the comic’s thesis: Scott Pilgrim is a total @$$hole.

That is all to say, I’d much prefer an “adaptation” with its own story (maybe even its own characters) that has the same themes and messages of the original over one that worships the plot and visuals of its inspiration.

Sure, and it was canceled because executives thought it was too weird.