The idea of producing a series based on the 1980s-era comic Watchmen is a daring proposition. That may sound a little hyperbolic, considering the sheer amount of comic book adaptations in the last decade. But Watchmen isn't just any comic book story; it's one that changed the way people thought about superhero stories. It's also one that had a very definitive ending, with little room for a sequel. That stark reality has fans asking questions about the forthcoming HBO series. There's a Season 1, but will there be a Watchmen Season 2? Showrunner Damon Lindelof suggests fans shouldn't count on it.
When it arrived in 1986, Watchmen was well-nigh groundbreaking. Instead of superheroes coming to save the day, Alan Moore and David Gibbons asked themselves what would happen if suddenly there was a society where a few select individuals had great powers? Would they really act as if this bestowed upon them a great responsibility? And what would that "great responsibility" look like?
Alan Moore has never given his blessing to any adaptation of his work. At the New York Comic-Con Watchmen screening, Lindelof admitted Moore had gone so far to ask that no one speak his name in relation to the show, Voldemort-style. But Gibbons is another matter. He was a special guest on the panel, and he said the key to the story was "when I stopped thinking of it as a superhero comic and more like a science fiction/alternate reality story." In his opinion, HBO and Lindelof had struck that tone perfectly.
It helps that Lindelof's concept for Watchmen isn't a straight adaptation. Instead, he did much like Gibbons and Moore in the 1980s and asked what the world would look like if superheroes really did spring into existence in the middle of the 20th century. Moreover, he then asked, what would the world of the 2010s look like, had the events of Watchmen taken place?
But it's not just the tone that Lindelof is striving to hit in what he self-deprecatingly called "a very expensive piece of fan fiction." As he put it, the original 12-issue comic "has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We strived to do the same." By that, he doesn't mean he has a story mapped out over several seasons, Game of Thrones-style. He means Season 1's nine episodes have a very definitive beginning, middle, and end.
So what does that mean for a Season 2? It means that chances are, there won't be one. Lindelof went so far as to joke that every character on the show would be dead by the end of Season 1, so it couldn't go on. But while that would have been a wild spoiler to drop in the middle of a panel like that, he then hedged. He would consider a Season 2, but only if there was a huge fan outcry for it.
Could fans (or HBO) convince him to do another season, if the first one hits big enough? Maybe. But Lindelof isn't counting on it. It seems like the best bet for fans is not count on it either, and just enjoy Watchmen while it lasts.
Watchmen premieres on HBO on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.