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Heartwarming / Watchmen

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"It would be a stronger world. A stronger loving world to die in."

For a comic book that is reputed to be a hopelessly cynical Deconstruction of the superhero genre, Watchmen is still heartwarming in places:

Comic Book

  • The soliloquy from Dr Manhattan at the end of Chapter Nine:
    Dr. Manhattan: Thermodynamic Miracles... Events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, siring this precise son; that exact daughter... Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... That is the crowning unlikelihood. The Thermodynamic Miracle.
    Laurie: But.. if me, my birth, if that's a Thermodynamic Miracle... I mean, you could say that about anybody in the world.
    Dr. Manhattan: Yes. Anybody in the world. But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles, that they become commonplace, and we forget. I forget. We gaze continually at the world, and it grows dull in our perceptions, yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away. Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home.
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  • Laurie and Daniel falling in love.
  • Sociopathic Hero Rorschach thanks Nite Owl for being his friend and apologizes for being such a pain. His face smiles. It smiles.
    • It's made so much more heartwarming by his awkward phrasing and body language throughout. Even for someone who tends to speak without articles in his sentences, it's clear he's having difficulty saying what he wants to say. And that just makes it so much more powerful when he says it, because it's just as clear that he's not a naturally friendly person, but he's really trying to make a gesture for Dan.
  • Just as Ozymandias's plan is revealed, we see a group of normal people attempting to stop one stranger from beating another. Two of the people rushing to help are encouraged by the person they're with to just leave it and not interfere in others' problems, but both reject the idea, noting that they refuse to see the pain and troubles of the world and do nothing about it. Of course, the heartwarming moment is interrupted by the horrifying culmination of Ozymandias' plan, but this scene before all the destruction is a possible refutation to Ozymandias' pessimistic belief that humanity would be doomed to destroy itself without outside intervention.
  • The newsstand seller and the comic book reader hugging seconds before Ozymandias' plan is complete; the heartwarming part of this is that those background characters didn't have any meaningful interaction between each other in the previous issues.
    • Added to when you re-read the comic; not only is the newsstand guy's care for the kid foreshadowed when he gives him his cap and a free comic (despite explicitly stating he doesn't ever do it), but when you combine it with your knowledge of his later shielding of the kid, it only adds to the heartwarming when you realize he really looks out for the kid (despite their squabbles).
    • Much earlier, in chapter 3, when the kid's reading the Black Freighter comic and it starts raining, he asks to borrow the newsvendor's cap, but the latter brushes him off saying he shouldn't rely on help from anyone, that a man stands alone. Then, when he receives news of the Russians invading Afghanistan, he changes his tune. He lets the kid have the comic for free, gives him his cap and tells him to get home and be good to his mother. The kid thanks him and heads home. In every appearance afterward, he's still wearing that cap.
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  • Nite Owl and Silk Spectre saving a bunch of people from a burning building. An incredible release to see that even in Watchmen's Crapsack World, there's still room for self-proclaimed heroes to perform pure, unambiguous acts of heroism.
  • Another Rorschach one: When Daniel and Rorschach go to retrieve Rorschach's spare mask, and he calls his landlady a whore to her face. She responds, "Oh, please, don't say that in front of my kids... please, they... they don't know." and he doesn't press it any further. Again, basic human decency for most, but a Crowning Moment for Rorschach.
    • What stops Rorschach in his tracks is the fact that he identifies himself with the children at that point. His mother was a prostitute and he had a miserable childhood because of it. The fact that his landlady's children don't know yet, that they are sheltered from it, is what stops him. His mom being a prostitute, and him being aware, is what contributed him to being Rorschach. By backing down, doesn't Rorschach offer these kids a better life than he had? (They'll find out anyway, but at least it's not him who broke it to them). For all that Rorschach has deeply, deeply entrenched issues with women (especially sex workers) this scene cuts to the quick, that that's exactly what they are — they're not a proud reasoned part of his philosophical stance, the trauma came first and his philosophy came after.
    • Also, as the landlady says this, she is hugging two of her children, trying to comfort them as the scary man confronts her.
    • What makes it heartbreaking is the look on Rorschach's usually expressionless face.
    • Rorschach's forebearance is even more striking when you consider that the landlady had been giving the media tabloid-trash lies about him that would infuriate even a normal easy-going person.
  • After the original Nite Owl has been beaten to death over a case of mistaken identity, Dan is distraught. Rorschach comments impassively that the killing might have something to do with the mysterious deaths of other costumes that have occurred recently. Dan angrily demands why Rorschach can't just let his conspiracy theory lie. Rorschach, still impassive, remarks "Merely suggesting that by finding mask killer, can have revenge for Mason's death. Was meant to comfort you." Okay, it's still a more-than-a-little sociopathic, but considering that it's Rorschach, and that he clearly cares about Dan's feelings and wants to comfort him, it's still strangely heartwarming.
    • Before that scene, Nite Owl is furious when he is informed of his predecessor's death. When he starts beating up the guy who breaks the news and curses at him, Rorschach (the guy who regularly beats people up at the bar they were in) tells him to calm down, reminding Nite Owl "Not in front of civilians". This shows (aside from a bit of Hypocritical Humor) that Rorschach isn't willing to beat people up for no reason and supposedly has a limit of sorts to his brutality.
  • Doctor Manhattan smiling when he sees Laurie happy with Daniel.
  • Adrian Veidt's Vietnamese servants talking to the interviewer. "He is not one of your pop music stars. He does not inject drugs, or treat young women badly. Make sure you say that."
  • Rorschach begging Dr. Manhattan to kill him, because he knows that if he survives, his nature demands that he expose the truth about Ozymandias's plan. Alternatively, it could be treated as Cassandra Truth, given how outlandish Ozymandias's plan is (Nite-Owl takes a long time to consider its conceivability, even as he sees it in action, and he is arguably the closest to a normal person in this story), and how fractured Rorschach's psyche has become over the years - people could simply write it off as another of his conspiracy theories. Adrian himself points this out after Rorschach leaves.
  • When Ozymandias says "I did it. I DID IT! I saved Earth from hell. Next I'll help her towards Utopia. It is as Rameses said: 'Canaan is devestated, Ashkelon is fallen, Gezer is ruined, Venoam is reduced to nothing, Israel is desolate and her seed is no more, and Palestine has become a widow for Egypt, all countries are unified and pacified.'"
  • A little quote from Rorschach (funny how he keeps making it into this entry): "Nothing is hopeless - not while there's life."
  • Just before the end of the book, it's revealed that Laurie found out that the Comedian was her dad, and forgives him. It's also revealed that despite everything, despite the horrible, Crapsack World that is Watchmen's Earth, Eddie somehow actually fell in love with Sally, and she apparently felt the same, as the last thing we see is her kissing his face on the Minutemen portrait. For all the trouble it gave them, despite the fact that it was impossible for them to ever be together, and despite Sally justifiably holding plenty of anger towards him years after, Sally and Eddie loved each other in the only way they could.
    • Our last look at Laurie, meanwhile, is her being truly invigorated at being a hero for the first time in her life, and considering altering her costume to make it more like the Comedian’s. While at first the shocking truth of her parentage understandably left her a sobbing wreck, she’s now starting to accept it on her own terms, and possibly taking steps to give the name of The Comedian a more positive legacy.
    • Eddie was absolutely no angel, was generally unpleasant in personality, and had done a multitude of heinous acts. But he felt terrible about his attempted rape and physical assault of Sally enough to respect her wishes to not talk to Laurie, and not tell her who her father was. He was uncharacteristically kind and gentle when meeting Sally again in 1949, and is the same way to Laurie (or at least the closest he can be) when she confronts him at the party. He has killed many out of his twisted sense of patriotism and is unapologetic about it, but Eddie at least cares about the family he could've had amid the wretched, bloodstained life that he enjoys.
  • The speech of encouragement that Ozymandias gave to a stressful Mothman for his performance piece at a charity event proved especially heartwarming:
    Mothman: I can do this...I can...I can do this...I will not die...I can do this...
    Ozymandias: Excuse me for a moment. Of course you can do this, my friend...I've absolutely no doubt of it.
    Mothman: Wh-What...?
    Ozymandias: When I first put on this costume, it was because I was inspired by people like you and you've never let me down yet. Now go out there and do what you've always done, my friend: Make us proud.
    Mothman: Thanks, I...I needed that. I can do it. I can!


  • The movie has the scene where Adrian is warned about a potential 'masked hero killer' following the Comedian's death go very differently than the comic. In the film, Dan warns Adrian instead of Rorschach, and their interaction is very different. Here, Dan comes off as genuinely concerned, and warned Adrian first since his identity was public. Adrian smiles and gives a very genuine "Thank you Dan", and you can tell he really does appreciate Dan's actions. Even the fact that Adrian knows he isn't in any danger (since he himself is the one that killed the Comedian) doesn't really diminish how grateful he sounds. You get the feeling that while Adrian respects the threat people like Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian and Rorschach posed to him and his plans, in the film he sincerely liked and respected Dan as a person.
  • After Dr. Manhattan gives his speech about how miraculous human life is, his ship lands on a giant smiley face on Mars. The fact that there actually is a smiley face on Mars makes it especially heartwarming.
  • Rorschach's awkward little handshake with Nite Owl, along with his admission that he's a difficult man to know, is so unexpected and nice.
    Rorschach: Daniel... you're a good friend.
    • In the following scene, when they're flying to Ozymandias' lair and Daniel is having some turbulence trouble, Rorschach tells him to put up in the most awkwardly polite way possible. It shows that he really took what had just happened to heart and is trying to be a nicer guy.
    • Rorschach always refers to someone by either their last name or their costumed name. This lets you know how he has genuine respect & fondness for Dreiberg... or rather, "Daniel".
    • In his own weird way, Rorschach also shows how he cares about Daniel by preventing him from beating a knot-top to death after hearing that the gang murdered Hollis Mason. He knows that that's not Daniel's way.
    • During their fight with Ozymandias, Roraschach and Dan get knocked down. After Rorschach gets back up, he actually walks over and helps Dan up.
    • In a diversion from the comic, Dan actually witnesses the death of Rorschach and reacts quite emotionally about it. It can be seen as an anti-nihilistic moment since despite everything Rorschach was as a person, he still had someone who cared about him.
  • The second Silk Spectre's reconciliation with her mother is lovely, the perfect combination of this trope and Tear Jerker.
  • Meta-Example: While Alan Moore instantly disassociated himself from the adaptation, Dave Gibbons helped out with the crew and gave his blessings. Even better is that Gibbons openly praised Zack Snyder and the cast for honoring the source material even in spite of his own disagreements.