Two years after HBO and Zack Snyder tried to make a Watchmen TV series work, the network is starting over from scratch. The cable giant has brought on The Leftovers creator Damon Lindelof to develop a new TV series based on the iconic graphic novel created by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Zack Snyder, who directed the 2009 big screen adaptation of Watchmen, is no longer involved in this project.
Variety reports that this Watchmen TV series will be completely independent of the Watchmen TV series that HBO and Zack Snyder were previously developing. While the cable network eventually did confirm that discussions were under way to bring this graphic novel to life on HBO, the series never came to fruition. Even then in 2015, this potential series was seen as a smart move by many, since HBO's hit fantasy series Game of Thrones will come to an end in the next few years, and a violent comic book adaptation like this would likely appeal to the same audience that tunes into GoT every week.
A Watchmen series would also give HBO its first superhero TV show, in a day and age where superheroes are commonplace on the small screen. The CW has found success with four hit DC Comics shows, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, with Black Lightning coming next season. Fox will bring back Gotham for a fourth season this fall, while NBC debuted the series Powerless, which features other DC characters. Netflix will debut The Defenders this year, after airing hit shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, while ABC also represents the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returning for its fifth season this coming fall alongside the new series Inhumans. FX has also found success with the X-Men TV series Legion, with Hulu recently picking up The Runaways and Freeform picking up New Warriors and Cloak and Dagger. Bringing one of the most iconic comic books in history to HBO would certainly help the network stay competitive among a TV landscape chocked full of costumed heroes.
The original 12-issue series was originally published in 1986, and collected in a 1987 trade paperback novel, which was set in a world where the presence of costumed heroes had altered the course of time, with America winning the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon's presidency stretching into the 1980s. The Watchmen were a group of beloved heroes in the 1970s, including Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Rorschach and The Comedian, but after superheroes grew unpopular, the Keene Act of 1977 outlawed costumed heroes, which forced the Watchmen into retirement. After The Comedian was murdered, these heroes reunite again to uncover a vast conspiracy with wide-ranging implications. Watchmen was listed on Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels of All Time, the only graphic novel included on the list.
While he is best known for co-creating Lost and creating HBO's The Leftovers, which just ended its three-season run last week, Damon Lindelof is a die-hard Watchmen fan, who has often spoke in interviews about Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie. While the movie had no shortage of hype, with a talented cast including Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson, the movie only earned $107.5 million domestically and $185.3 million worldwide, from a $130 million budget. Given the immense size and scope of the graphic novel, a Watchmen TV series may be the most authentic way to bring this iconic story to life yet.