However, he added in a lengthy note to fans re-published on his Instagram account in conjunction with the series’ premiere Sunday, “in the spirit of complete honesty, we also sorta want to… uh… Disrupt it?”
Lindelof’s lengthy missive reassured diehards that their beloved heroes would be handled with reverence — despite book writer Alan Moore’s wanting nothing to do with the project, which makes the whole enterprise “unethical,” the EP noted — but also reminded them that the world they love so much will look a little different in this iteration. (Lindelof also pointed out that Dave Gibbons, who drew the comics, has lent his approval to the production.)
“We have no desire to ‘adapt’ the 12 issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created 30 years ago. Those issues are sacred ground, and they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted,” Lindelof wrote. “They will, however be remixed.”
Lindelof originally posted the letter in May 2018, when the Watchmen pilot was in production.
Those who watched Sunday’s premiere (read full recap here) know exactly what the executive producer is talking about. The episode started with the 1921 Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa, Okla., and then shifted to focus on Angela Abar (played by Southland‘s Regina King), a modern-day Tulsa police detective who wears a costume and mask to keep members of a racist terrorist organization from learning her true identity. Though there were several references to characters from the graphic novel — news footage of the giant, blue Doctor Manhattan on Mars, for instance — the plot did not follow any story laid out in Moore and Gibbons’ original work.
HBO’s Watchmen is not a sequel, per se, but is “set in the world its creators painstakingly built… but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original,” Lindelof continued. “It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask you questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary.”
He added that the show’s heroes and villains “are playing for different stakes entirely” than what goes on in the comic. “Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising, yet familiar set of eyes… and it is here where will be taking our greatest risk.”
Lindelof echoed these sentiments — comparing Watchmen to a global-phenomenon rock band — when TVLine spoke to him ahead of the series’ premiere. “If I go to a Rolling Stones show now, I want the Rolling Stones to play certain songs. So if they don’t play ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ or ‘Satisfaction,’ I’m going to be totally bummed out. There’s an expectation,” he said. “But you look over the catalog, and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, they’re playing ‘She’s a Rainbow’!’ You want to be able to surprise people… The most important thing for us was to not play the hits — but that isn’t to say that I don’t love everything about the original Watchmen.”
He added, “I mean, it’s a masterwork.”
The former Lost EP famously left Twitter, a forum in which he often engaged with hostile fans of the ABC sci-fi series, in 2013. In Sunday’s letter, he referred to the rejected social media platform as somewhere he got “opioid highs” but added that he’d keep an eye on fan reaction to his new endeavor via Reddit, recaps and the like. “I’ll be reading and watching and listening to what you have to say because, even though I wish I didn’t, I deeply care about what you think,” he wrote.
Read the entire letter below, then hit the comments with your thoughts about all things Watchmen.