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Film: Watch Men
That city should be afraid of you.
The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood. And when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown....
Excerpt from Rorschach's Journal, October 12, 1985

Zack Snyder's 2009 adaptation of Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.

After almost 20 years in Development Hell (including a script by David Hayter, AKA Solid Snake, and not one, but two attempts by Terry Gilliam), The Movie is finished and has been released, using a script by Alex Tse which preserves some of Hayter's elements. You can see a trailer here if you want a taste. It's incredibly faithful; but like the film as a whole, whether that decision's perceived as a plus, neutral, or a minus varies wildly.

Fox originally held the movie rights and apparently never truly lost them, and so they sued (with the threat of blocking the release), but is instead settling for a cut of the profits from WB. This decision, at least, proved worthwhile for Fox.

The plot is almost exactly the same as the comic, with dialogue and scenes lifted almost shot-for-shot at times. That makes it probably the most correct adaptation of an Alan Moore comic (with the possible exception of the Justice League episode "For the Man Who Has Everything"). This in itself has been a point of debate among fans and critics: some like the fidelity; others would have preferred a more Pragmatic Adaptation; others still don't think it's faithful enough. Pretty much a textbook example of the phrase; "You Can't Please Everyone".

This page is for movie-only tropes — most will be on the main Watchmen page.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Accent Relapse: Though it's never mentioned in the film, Matthew Goode decided to play Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias as a German immigrant himself (not just the son of immigrant parents) who has learned to adopt a newscaster-perfect American accent in public but slides back into a relatively light German one in private. It helps to establish that he's just that cunning. Sadly because this was done rather subtly, quite a few viewers saw it as Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping or just plain wondered What the Hell Is That Accent??
    • There's a video of the actor discussing the role doing the switch very suddenly and for contrast, going from his own British accent to explaining that "Veidt's public peRRsona is veRRy AmeRRican" [in an American accent, hard Rs and all] "bot oo-en hhe iss in pri-vit he bekomms a bit Gehr-mahn" [in a German accent]. Done that quickly, it's jarring.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach sans mask is just generally a lot less odd-looking than his graphic novel counterpart. Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter is far prettier than how the character was drawn, but Sally is also supposed to have been a bombshell when she was younger; Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II may not look just like in the graphic novel (being far less tubby than Dan was), but considering Dan was a male version of Beautiful All Along once Laurie pulled off his glasses in the original too, it's hard to see this as a problem; and as far as Matthew Goode as Ozymandias is concerned, the average fan is equally likely to either find him incredibly handsome or complain about his enormous eyes, rather understated chin (in contrast to the graphic novel's Lantern Jaw of Justice), and long neck.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Cuts out some subplots to make the film flow more smoothly than the book. Zach Snyder, a self-avowed fan of the comic, said in an interview that he, himself, had an extremely hard time cutting scenes out, as he wanted to include everything from the comic. It was mainly his crew who had to reign him in when planning shots, otherwise the film could have easily run eight hours.
  • Adrenaline Time
  • Age Lift: While justified by having the characters in flashbacks between their mid-20s or 40s, with the exception of Rorschach (actor only year older) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup was 39 during filming, while Jon Osterman was 30 in the flashbacks), all actors are younger than their roles (Malin Åkerman was 29, Laurie is 36; Patrick Wilson was 34, Dan is 41; Matthew Goode was 27, Adrian was 47; 36-year-old Carla Gugino and 42-year-old Jeffrey Dean Morgan play two characters in their sixties during 1986).
    • Sally and Eddie had their Minutemen-era ages lifted for the film, as Gugino and Morgan could not convincingly play the characters that young. Sally went from being 19 to being 25, while Eddie changed from 16 to 19 in early screenplay drafts before they settled on him being 22. Other ages and dates were tweaked a bit, as revealed in supplementary materials.
  • Alternate History: All of the U.S. flags in the film have 51 stars, because in the film's alternate history, Vietnam became the 51st state after America won the Vietnam War.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Veidt, though it's much less ambiguous in the film than it was in the novel, the biggest example being when Dan accesses Veidt's personal computer and a folder entitled "Boys" is visible on the desktop. In the opening montage, they're slightly anvilicious about it: he's also seen going into Studio 54 and shaking hands with someone who looks an awful lot like Ziggy Stardust, who purposely epitomized the drug and sex culture of the 70s (Mick Jagger is next to Bowie). To make it even less ambiguous, the Village People are in that same scene.
  • And the Adventure Continues: It ends with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre ( now lovers) coming out of retirement to fight crime together. Then there's The Stinger, implying that they may have to deal with the fallout from Rorschach exposing Ozymandias' crimes...
  • Anti-Hero: Rorschach is a character with many flaws.
  • Anti-Villain: Veidt. His intentions might be good, but his means of getting there are evil.
  • The Artifact: Bubastis, Ozymandias's genetically engineered pet, is only introduced right toward the end, and is only really there long enough to be vaporized. In the graphic novel, she was important in that her existence foreshadowed Ozymandias's genetic engineering and the giant alien squid vagina monster. But since that was taken out, Bubastis has little purpose.
  • Artistic Title: The breathtaking Title Sequence combining the most iconic images of the 2nd half of the 20th century.
  • As You Know: Veidt is introduced to the audience via a speech from a reporter outlining his personal history to Veidt himself. Veidt, displaying his Genre Savvy attitude in his first line, interrupts with a slightly annoyed "I'm not hearing a question, Mr. Roth."
  • Attempted Rape: The Comedian attempts to rape Sally after the first photo shoot of "The Minutemen".
  • Author Tract: Adrian's Take That speech to a big-shot of the oil industry seems to be this, causing the audience to roll their eyes at yet another superhero movie with a message. Turns out it was just a Red Herring to make the audience not notice him checking his watch or suspect that his solution to the energy crisis isn't something else instead.
  • Batman Gambit: Ozymandias' plan could only work assuming that the rest of the watchmen, especially John, were able to be manipulated.
  • Badass Boast: Courtesy of Rorschach after melting off a guys face using boiling oil "None of you understand: I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me!"
  • Big Bad Friend: Adrian Veidt. Unlike in the graphic novel, he and Dan are close, affectionate friends in this version- Adrian's Germanic depressive tendencies only melt around Dan, and it's highly unlikely Adrian would have taken that penitential beating from anyone else.
  • Big "NO!": Nite Owl after Rorschach dies.
    • Laurie has one when she realizes that the Comedian is her father.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending as it's presented, especially when you consider the possibility that the rag Rorschach sent his journal to might actually publish it, revealing Ozymandias' plan and possibly sending the world back toward nuclear devastation.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Oh, yes. Indeed, it is to modern comic book movies what Watchmen was to other comics in its day - brutal and nasty.
  • Book Ends: Begins and ends Rorschach's voiceover.
    Rorschach: Rorschach's journal. October 10th, 1985...
    • Also, the smiley face which is splattered by ketchup, right before.
  • Break the Cutie: Played with, when the Comedian assaults and attempts to rape Sally (Silk Spectre).
  • Broken Ace: Veidt, by a margin about six miles wider than in the comic.
  • Bullet Catch: Ozymandias catches a bullet fired by Silk.
  • Bullet Time: Ozymandias uses this to evade an assassin's bullet.
  • Bury Your Gays: Silhouette, who kisses a nurse on V-Day, while a sailor in uniform glances at them and walks by. They strike up a relationship and are eventually found murdered for it.
    • The newspaper lying on the bed with them states she was also kicked out of the Minutemen for it. Which is odd, since there was a gay couple in the Minutemen (though they may not have been 'out' yet)
  • Camera Abuse: Silk Spectre walks up to the camera and appears to shatter the lens with a punch. It's then revealed to be Dr. Manhattan's structure on Mars that she actually punched.
  • Captain's Log / Private Eye Monologue: Rorschach's journal voiceovers.
  • Censor Shadow: Amusingly inverted. Dr. Manhattan's region is often obscured (especially in the trailer) by a nimbus of light. Not always, though.
  • Character Exaggeration: More likely to be cited by those who didn't like it. That said, Rorschach is undeniably more forward with his prejudices in the movie. Rorschach's craziness and morbid personality are a little more scaled back in the movie though. In the book he seemed calmer and creepier in his actions (Laurie says he gave her the creeps, even before he went truly crazy), while in the movie Jackie Earle Haley plays him more like a small terrier, with lots of anger and aggression. His facial expression, blank in the book, is a lot more of a scowl in the movie as well.
    • Thanks to the Bloodier and Gorier aesthetic, Dan and Laurie end up mutilating and killing criminals (where in the comic they would leave them with non-permanent injuries at most). This brings their methods much closer to Rorschach's and undermines what Moore intended by creating costumed heroes of differing levels of violence and compassion.Then again, the studios wanted this and Zack Snyder objected to this.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Everyone except for Dr. Manhattan.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The "free energy" on which Manhattan and Adrian are working. And a few others.
    • The narration itself, when collected into Rorschach's journal and delivered to the right wing newspaper.
  • City Noir: Rorschach's plotline is fully dedicated to this.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Averted. Especially with Rorschach, since we don't learn his real name until later.
  • Cool Mask: Rorschach's moving inkblot mask.
  • Composite Character: Dr. Milton Glass and the assistant Wally Weaver were merged into one character, "Professor Wally Weaver". His death is also shown on-screen, and directly references the panel where Jon Osterman's father died.
  • Contemplative Boss: Veidt in his Antarctic palace (or while receiving the corporate tycoons in his office).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Adrian Veidt isn't one, but played straight with the oil tycoons who try to make him give up on clean electricity after Dr. Manhattan's disappearance.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: The Comedian uses the pilot light on his flamethrower to light a cigar.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer:
    • The superhero team is not called the "Masks".
    • The Times (UK) captioned a photo of Silk Spectre II "Sally Jupiter", rather than her daughter, Laurie.
    • Web videos from ComiCon - ComicCon for the love of cake - claimed that Carla Gugino and Malin Åkerman were playing the first and second "Silk Sceptre", though this could just be a typo.
    • Ironically, the "Crimebusters" super-group convened by Ozy and Captain Metropolis was renamed "The Watchmen" for the purposes of this film, creating an inverse situation.
  • Crapsack World: The world seen from Rorschach's viewpoint.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Ozymandias. When opposed by an effectively invincible superman? He IMMEDIATELY tries the one thing that can deconstruct him. And let's not forget having the timers on the bombs run out thirty-five mintues before the heroes arrive to stop him. He gives a standard speech about his grand plan, then laughs and mocks them for thinking he'd say all of that before the plan had already succeeded.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film has way more blood and tits than the book. Of course, the book was considerably darker and edgier than its contemporary comics, so exaggerating it for the film is something of a Pragmatic Adaptation.
  • Death by Origin Story: The film has a bit of subtle fun with the Batman ur-example: The very first "still" in the title sequence shows the first Nite Owl punching out the would-be killer of Bruce Wayne's parents!
  • Demoted to Extra: Captain Metropolis. In the book, he's a hopelessly naive superhero who forms the Crimebusters in the 1960s and tries to convince them that they can solve all of the world's problems. In the movie, Ozymandias forms the team (re-named "The Watchmen"). Metropolis becomes an unspeaking character who briefly appears in a flashback.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu? DID YOU JUST USE THE RESULTS OF SCAMMING CTHULHU TO SCAM THE ENTIRE WORLD?
  • Dull Surprise: Malin Åkerman, as Laurie Juspeczyk, gives rather ... measured responses to being on Mars and to being told the world will end.
  • Easter Egg: Lots.
    • Veidt's disk has a folder titled "Boys". Veidt's TV wall is full of easter eggs, including "300 Spartans", a porn movie, Apple's famous '1984' commercial, a Marvin the Martian cartoon (possible reference to Dr. Manhattan's fate) and a MacGyver episode (the man climbing the parachute, MacGyver possibly referring to Ozy himself).
    • In the opening sequence, Nite Owl I appears to save the Waynes in front of a wall of Batman posters outside the "Gotham Opera House".
    • Dreiberg has a copy of Watchmen on his desk.
    • Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice can be seen staring at each other adoringly in the retirement scene from the intro. It was mentioned in passing in the original comic that those two were secretly lovers.
    • Veidt's Watchmen toyline is made up of the real life action figures released by DC Direct. However, the ones in the movie are painted in brighter, comic accurate colors.
    • The pirate comic can be seen briefly.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Comedian has a mental breakdown when he discovers Ozymandias' plan.
    • Also ironically, in the deleted scene where Nite Owl finds out about Hollis Mason's murder, he beats a member of the gang responsible so hard the guy loses teeth... and Rorschach is the one who tells him to stop - because they're in public (he probably wouldn't have objected if there hadn't been an audience).
  • Expy: Minus the long, flowing cape, the one shot of Dollar Bill that we get in the opening credits looks like a stylized version of Golden Age Captain America 's suit.
  • The Faceless: Rorschach.
  • Fake American: Silk Spectre is played by Swedish-Canadian actress Malin Åkerman. An in-Universe example is Ozymandias adopting a very convincing American accent in public and slipping into a German one in private, both provided by English actor Matthew Goode.
  • Fan Disservice: Partway through the film, there's a lengthy flashback featuring Carla Gugino in a corset. Unfortunately, she's also being raped and brutalized by the Comedian.
  • Fanservice: The sex scene in the owlship is much more explicit than it was in the book.
    • Mr. Fanservice: If anything there is A LOT of male nudity in this movie, A LOT!
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Rorschach, to the psychiatrist after his arrest.
    You keep calling me Walter. I don't like you.
  • Fingore: In addition to Rorschach's bone-snapping interrogation methods, in the director's cut, Veidt's secretary's fingers are shot off by the assassin hired by Veidt to kill Veidt.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Laurie and Dan's jailbreak starts out like this, a callback to a similar scene in 300.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening montage includes shots of all the characters, including a young Walter Kovacs watching a man leave his mother's bedroom, and a young Laurie Jupiter watching her parents argue. Both scenes are revisited as important parts of the characters' backstories.
    • In the scene where the gunman fires at Veidt and the tycoons, the light above the elevator that signals his arrival is the same color as Veidt's suit, hinting at who hired him.
  • Freak Lab Accident: The accident that creates Dr. Manhattan.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias's device is called the Sub-Quantum Intrinsic Device because it takes the place of the squid-monster at the end of the movie. Also counts as an Easter Egg Mythology Gag.
  • Germanic Depressives: Veidt comes off as rather dour and bitter, with an aloof smirk the closest to a smile he seems to actually be capable of (in contrast to his much warmer, more genial comic book counterpart).
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The second Silk Spectre's smoking was absent from the film whereas she was all but a chainsmoker in the comics. The Comedian still smokes cigars in almost all of his appearances.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Graphically averted to the point of gorn.
    • Used during the Prison Riot with Rorschach, given what we see people do on screen it is a rather chilling implication of how bad that guy's fate was.
    • In the intro, there's a brief scene of a bunch of hippies protesting Nixon, facing off against some National Guardsmen pointing guns at them. One of them puts a flower into the barrel of one of the National Guardsmen, and the camera focuses in on the gun so much we can no longer see the hippies. Then all the guns go off...
    • Also used during the cut scene where Hollis Mason is murdered.
  • Groin Attack: Flashback of Rorschach as a young boy attacking one of his bullies.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: Dr. Manhattan turning to Ozymandias' side.
  • Heroic BSOD: Dr Manhattan has one when he thinks that he caused the death of many of his old friends and soon his old girlfriend by giving them cancer.
    Dr Manhattan: I SAID, LEAVE ME ALONE!
  • Historical In-Joke: The Comedian killed JFK, Ozymandias went to Studio 54, and many, many more.
    • The Comedian: "Ain't had this much fun since Woodward and Bernstein." ...Guess that explains how Nixon stuck around.
      • At The Comedian's funeral, "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel plays over the background. That song was written in the aftermath of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which, in the Watchmen film universe, was carried out by The Comedian.
    • A loose example: the pic of Silk Spectre I's retirement looks like a recreation of The Last Supper.
    • There's National Guardsmen shooting at non-violent protestors through the flowers placed in the barrels of their guns, Norman Rockwell painting the Silk Spectre while Andy Warhol paints Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan on the moon — and that's just the opening credits!
    • Let's just say the entire opening sequence is one huge Historical In-Joke and leave it at that.
    • Outside of the opening sequence, former Ford president/Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca is the spokesman for the industrialists who meet with Veidt. He takes the assassin's bullet meant for Veidt, instead of Veidt's assistant.
    • The Comedian replaced Elvis Presley in his picture with Nixon.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Averted, where Rorschach uses the valid logic associated with this trope:
    Nite Owl II: Adrian's a pacifist. He's a vegetarian, for Christ's sake. He's never killed anyone in his life.
  • Hollywood Dress Code: Dan's cardigans, thick glasses and bow ties = nerd. Veidt's very, very Eighties suits = everything you already think about the corporate atmosphere of that era, conveniently packaged with colored shirts with white collars and cuffs.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Laurie's costume is tighter and much more revealing than it was in the book. The pudgy, homely Dan Dreiberg is played by a good-looking actor. And the sex scene in the owlship is much more explicit than anything Dave Gibbons ever drew.
  • How We Got Here: The opening sequence showcases just how different their world is from ours as well as the Minutemen's ever-changing lineup.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": Dreiberg's is "The Owl".
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The man trying to kill Veidt is a horrible shot. Veidt could've probably stood completely still and been perfectly safe, considering his first two shots aren't even close to hitting him while he's standing still.
    • And much earlier, Rorschach proves he IS completely safe standing still, conveniently framed in a busted window, as a police officer fires at him. Although we see the officer looking startled by Rorschach's abrupt off-screen disappearance from the window, moments before is a shot of the vigilante looking calmly over his shoulder as his face is lit up by the flash, as though mocking the cop's poor aim. Maybe he's just that Genre Savvy.
    • And later, Rorschach evades automatic gunfire from a SWAT team in the close quarters of a janky stairwell. Unlike Veidt, Rorschach is not faster than a bullet; but apparently he IS faster than a trained gunman.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: The Comedian's visit to Moloch is full of it, complete with snot and dribble.
  • In Spite of a Nail: A very minor blink-and-you'll-miss-it example. In spite of the Alternate History, the Mad Max films still get made in this continuity.
  • Info Drop: While the film pretty much makes Ozymandias as Ambiguously Gay as possible, the real proof comes from a desktop icon labeled "Boys" on his computer.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Veidt, more so than in the book because he confesses at "[he's] often felt stupid at being unable to relate to anyone."
  • In-Universe Marketing
  • Isn't It Ironic?: One very rare aversion with Nena's song "99 Luftballons" which is a cheerful song about nuclear holocaust. For once, it fits.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Check!
  • It Will Never Catch On: Upon being told about Ronald Reagan becoming a presidential candidate, a newspaper editor dismissed this, asking who'd want a cowboy for president.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: The first Silk Spectre's problem.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: Veidt's reaction to The Comedian's "smartest man on the cinder" speech.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    Ozymandias: I'm not a comic book villain.
  • Light Is Not Good: As opposed to the Eldritch Abomination from the comic, New York City here has a much brighter fate.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Silhouette from the Minutemen, as seen in the title sequence.
  • Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: Rorschach does this early on...
    The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'Save us!'... and I'll look down, and whisper "no."
  • Living Legend: Like the comic, explores the positive and negative aspects of fame + heroism.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Silk Spectre II learns that The Comedian is her biological father.
  • Made of Plasticine / Ludicrous Gibs: What happens when Dr. Manhattan uses his explosive powers against gangsters, Viet Cong, and Rorschach.
  • Made of Iron: Moreso than in the graphic novel. The main characters are all a bit more "super" than in the book.
  • Meaningful Name: A bit obvious when you're dealing with costumed heroes, but "The Comedian" is bitterly ironic.
  • Meta Twist: While it's obvious to a modern reader that Veidt is the murderer/guiding force behind the plot of the graphic novel, the book first appeared before comics in general became much Darker and Edgier and it was perfectly reasonable for an audience to assume that Veidt was the honest, caring man he seemed to be. Nowadays, a saintly-seeming character in a work otherwise full of grim antiheroes sticks out really obviously as the villain, so, film!Veidt became a glacial, aloof, rather sneering figure to actually detract the likelihood of his being the culprit from a newcomer's POV- only for it to still be him. But then it's twisted again in the end by how much less at peace he seems than his comic-book counterpart...
  • Montage: Most of the backstory (the history of the first-generation costumed heroes, and the effects they had on politics and culture) is revealed in a series of Bullet Time or slow motion shots played over the opening credits. It is one of the best treatments of How We Got Here seen in a long time.
  • Mook Horror Show: The Vitecongs get massacered by the Watchmen when they participate in the Vietnam War, mostly thanks to Dr Manhattan. They personally surrendered to him when they gave up.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black
  • Mythology Gag:
    • From the supplemental movie material: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5WsciSNVS0#t=2m06s Rorschach's mask becomes completely blank, followed by a question mark. This is presumably a reference to his being an Expy of the Charlton comics character The Question. (Moore had orignally wanted to use the actual Charlton characters, which had been acquired by DC a couple years previously, but the company didn't let him, hence, the Expys.)
    • In the film, the sharp-eyed viewer can see that the name of the Veidt/Manhattan collaboration has the initials S.Q.U.I.D..
  • Necessarily Evil: Ozymandias presents himself far more as this in the film than in the graphic novel, down to standing there and letting Dan beat him up. It was only Executive Meddling that saved him- in earlier drafts, he made Dan promise to protect his utopia and then let Dan kill him.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Laurie
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer for the film made it look like a (relatively) typical superhero movie. Hence the number of parents who mistook it for kid-friendly material.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Completely and utterly averted. Among others, we see John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Leonid Brezhnev, Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger, Lee Iacocca, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, the Village People, and John McLaughlin. This all works to demonstrate the Alternate Reality setting.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Comedian's death. Ozymandias hands Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre their asses near the end of the film.
    • And then, unlike in the graphic novel, a guilt-ridden Ozymandias allows Nite Owl to return the favor after Rorschach's death, with a resigned, blank expression.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Even though the Crimebusters have their name changed to prevent confusion, "The Watchmen" are still not the protagonists of the film. They were a proposed superhero team that never actually formed. Practically all of the characters are solo vigilantes.
  • Not His Sled: The giant squid does not appear.
  • Nothing But Hits
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: For reasons never stated, The Comedian speaks with a Southern Accent despite being from New York City.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When he's interrogated, Rorschach describes an occasion where he threw two objects through windows, yet is able to get inside the house and stand next to the man he threw it at in about two seconds. Rorschach being Rorschach, he's something of an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Perfume Commercial: The film opens with the Comedian watching one, creating a huge contrast between its perfection and the rest of the Crapsack World.
  • Playing Gertrude: Carla Gugino and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are only 7 and 12 years older than Malin Åkerman.
  • Prison Riot: Big Figure tries to have Rorschach killed during one.
  • R-Rated Opening: Parents who took their children to the big new superhero movie (and somehow missed the R rating) most likely left the theater after watching an old man being brutally beaten up and thrown out of a skyscraper. If not, the opening montage (which includes among others, two dead women with "LESBIAN WHORES" written on a nearby wall in something red that looks very much like it could be their own blood) could be enough.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: The Antarctica reactor.
  • Recuts: This movie has two additional cuts, one that adds about a half hour to the run time and a second one that brings the total time to over three and a half hours by adding in Tales of the Black Freighter.
  • Revised Ending: Long story short, no Giant Squid in this version. Instead, Dr. Manhattan is framed for the destruction of New York, Moscow, and several other major cities around the world. Everything else remains the same.
  • Rule of Perception: Subverted. In the climax, Veidt says he could tell Manhattan could still feel by watching the microtwitches in his face (actually a real-life technique). There's a cut to Manhattan while Veidt continues to voiceover, and it's still his regular expression, as far as the audience can tell.
  • Scenery Censor: Very noticeably averted with Doctor Manhattan's nudity.
  • Scenery Porn/Scenery Gorn/Visual Effects of Awesome: As per Zack Snyder's standard.
  • Serkis Folk: Dr. Manhattan — the director described his costume as pajamas with blinking lights on them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Director Zach Snyder's most famous work:
      • The Comedian is staying in Room 3001, but during the fight with his eventual killer, the 1 gets knocked off, leaving the door reading: 300.
      • Dr. Long (the psychiatrist)'s briefcase also has 3-0-0 as combination number, and Veidt is watching The 300 Spartans on TV among other things.
    • The war room is essentially identical to the one seen in Dr. Strangelove.
    • The "File Footage" of Rorschach in the director's cut is a nearly frame-for-frame recreation of the famous Patterson bigfoot film.
    • One of the thugs who attempts to beat up Dan and Laurie in the alley has V's symbol on his shirt. V for Vendetta was another creation of Watchmen creator Alan Moore.
    • A Superman dummy can be seen being burnt during the 70's flashbacks in with the protesting. Which is also funny considering this is also a flash forward on Synder's film after Sucker Punch
  • The Shrink: Dr. Long, who starts out convinced he can help Rorschach...
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: There is very little footage of Ozymandias in any of the film's trailers. This is because 90% of his scenes are after he is revealed as The Chessmaster.
  • Slow Motion: Prolifically used during the fight scenes to zoom in on injuries. Even in the sex scenes, to some tropers' dismay. For a Snyder movie, it's restrained.
  • Slow Motion Fall: The Comedian's death is like this.
  • So Crazy It Must Be True: Rorschach believes Moloch's story about the Comedian's visit.
    Rorschach: Funny story. Sounds unbelievable. Probably true.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "Unforgettable" over the Comedian's death scene.
    • Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during one of the sex scenes.
      • Though Snyder did mean to make the sexings seem ridiculous.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: All three, actually, and more. The 1940s-vintage heroes mostly wore Spandex or its period equivalent (rather amusing are the realistic canvas, silk or cotton home-made costumes, considering that the heroes in question were ordinary people having either a bout of schizophrenia or a surfacing vigilante streak); some of those that didn't - like Silhouette - wore leather. The later Comedian preferred leather body armor, and Silk Spectre II was in latex. (Malin Åkerman famously commented that her costume made her "smell like a giant condom".)
  • Sphere of Destruction: The ending replaces the giant squid monster with spheres of destruction (the first of which releases energy pulses that resemble tentacles) made from Dr. Manhattan's energy destroying New York, Moscow, and other cities around the world, essentially making Dr. Manhattan as the deterrent for nuclear war. However, there is a subtle Shout-Out to the original ending: the system is named S.Q.U.I.D.
  • Spy Catsuit: Laurie's costume (as opposed to the stripperific one in the comic).
  • Stock Scream: One of the guards in the Prison Riot uses the Wilhelm Scream as he's dropped off the top balcony.
  • Take That: Updated to target a newer President! The editor of the New Frontiersman responds to Ronald Reagan's candidacy by saying "no one wants a cowboy in the White House!" In the book, he responded to Robert Redford's candidacy with "no one wants a cowboy actor in the White House!"
  • Teeth Flying: Played for Drama in a scene from the director's cut. When Nite Owl learns from a Knot-Top that his mentor Hollis Mason was murdered by other members of that gang, he snaps and punches the man in the face repeatedly, visibly knocking a few teeth loose. The last you see of the guy is him gurgling his own blood which has most of his teeth floating around in it.
  • ThePasswordIsAlwaysSwordfish: Ozymandias' password is RAMESESII.
  • This Is Reality: Done in the original comic as well but deserving a mention for being kicked up a notch in a humorous allusion to the original comic by having Veidt's "I'm not a Republic serial villain" line replaced by "I'm not a comic book villain".
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Rarely for a superhero/comicbook movie, completely averted by the heroes. Dr. Manhattan has a habit of exploding everyone from petty crimebosses to Vietcong, Rorschach is...Rorschach, and even Dan and Laurie have no problems jamming knives into peoples' necks during a bit fight scene.
    • And the Comedian's main weapons are guns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers, but he's not a hero by any definition.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Snyder shows the golden age of the "heroes", their eventual decline, the rise of the next generation, and the public revolt against "vigilantes", while at the same time throwing in a butt-load of backstory and tidbits from the comic that would have been difficult if not impractical to put into the body of the movie. And sets it to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"
  • Title Drop: In the graffiti, as in the comic; and in the name of the super-team-that-never-was (which in the comic was called "the Crimebusters").
  • Trailers Always Lie: "Justice is coming for all of us, no matter what we do." This did show up in the Extended Version though.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Several of the trailers show scenes that tip off the reveal for anyone with even a passing familiarity with the characters. The fans of the comic also have no compunction about dropping major plot points. Said fans include a major webcomic. This is because a lot of the comic's power came from the fact that the plot points were stupidly obvious. Like, if you missed the fact that Ozymandias was going to be the main villain you just weren't paying attention. And it worked anyway.
  • Traitor Shot: Done very subtly. Watch the movie again knowing that Veidt hired his own would-be assassin as part of the plot. Notice that he glances impatiently at his watch right before the gunman arrives, in a very "What's keeping this guy!?" manner.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Veidt's role in the film is given shades of this that weren't in the comic, due to his and Dan's relationship in this version clearly being affectionate and friendly rather than just the acquaintance of former superheroes.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Veidt, of all people, when he willingly allows Dan to beat him until he's bruised, bleary-eyed and bleeding, as an implicit admission of guilt and self-loathing over what he did.
  • Twitchy Eye: Done twice with Rorschach.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In the jail break-in scene with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre beating the crap out of the rioting prison inmates who had an officer pinned in his office. The two heroes practically saved his life, and what does the officer do? He tries to arrest them, but gets knocked out for his trouble.
  • Urban Legend:
  • Viewers Are Morons: Why Robert Redford was changed to Ronald Reagan when it was announced who would be running for president in 1988.
  • Villainous BSOD: Ozymandias appears to be going through one of these during the last we see of him. He's shaky, staring into space, and looking like he's about to fall over. Of course, the fact that what he did saved the world could make this just as strongly count as a Heroic BSOD.
  • Visionary Villain: Ozymandias and his vision of world peace bought at a terrible price.
  • Walk on Water: In a commercial for Nostalgia perfume. Which was recognized — and at first thought to be — an actual commercial from The Eighties. It wasn't.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Group version from Nite Owl II: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"
    • Another one is delivered by The Comedian to Dr. Manhattan after the Comedian kills the woman pregnant with his child, and Dr. Manhattan does nothing to stop him.
  • Who Shot JFK?: The Comedian, from the grassy knoll of course.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The Comedian. First time when he assaults Silk Spectre and the second time when he and Nite Owl are doing riot control. He also killed a woman who was pregnant with his child!

Terminator SalvationCreator/Sony Pictures ImageworksWhat Lies Beneath
Star TrekSeiun AwardDistrict 9
Marley and MeFilm Brain ListThe Boat That Rocked
The WarriorsCreator/PARAMOUNTWhat's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Gang of HatsImageSource/Live-Action FilmsCity Noir
Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of BelialSuperheroX-Men
The Books of EmberDiesel PunkYesterday Was A Lie
SubmarineThe EightiesThe Wedding Singer
Wait Until DarkCreator/Warner Bros.What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Waking Sleeping BeautyFilms of 2005 - 2009 The Wild Hunt

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