When I was in college, a man named Frank Miller virtually invented the graphic novel with his opus, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It remains one of the most famous graphic novels, along with another which was released that same year, Watchmen, by Alan Moore. I read the former soon after it was released and enjoyed it immensely. I picked up Watchmen several times over the last 25 years, but never ended up buying it.
Recently, Watchmen became a motion picture, and I finally got around to catching it on TV. Regrettably, I’ve lost three hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Even more regrettably, the flaws in this story made me finally see some of the flaws in The Dark Knight Returns as well.
In both the Frank Miller work and the Alan Moore work, we see retired caped crusaders electing to come out of retirement. While one might tend to think of the lone vigilante fighting for the people as a conservative idea, these stories are both liberal fantasies. The evil faced in both The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen is a crazed and oppressive government hell bent on hurtling the world towards “mutually assured destruction”. The face of this oppression in Frank Miller’s work is President Ronald Reagan (R-USA) and his cohort, Superman. In Moore’s work, it’s the even more evil, President Richard Nixon (R-USA).
Ok, I’m used to our liberal writers and directors and their definition of evil: conservatism, and their naïve view of world politics and the military. So, this is nothing new.
Watchmen takes things a step further into liberal lunacy, however, and has ultimate evil disguised as ultimate good. I’m going to talk about the end of the story here. You’ve been warned.
In Watchmen, the solution to this mutual assured destruction problem is genocide. One of the Watchmen, Ozymandias, decides that by destroying all the major cities in the world, he can prevent humanity from destroying itself. After he does so, Nixon reaches out to Khrushchev and détente begins. Our heroes were attempting to stop this madman from his efforts, but failed. And seeing the results, peace breaking out all over the world, most relent and go along with this sociopath. Rorschach can’t stomach it and wants to tell the world exactly what has just happened, and Dr. Manhattan kills him for it, to save this artificial peace.
Our hero, Daniel, almost gets it, and attacks Ozymandias, telling him he hasn’t saved humanity, he’s only deformed it. But even he says at the end that the peace will continue “as long as they think [Dr. Manhattan] is watching” over them.
As I said, this is the ultimate liberal fantasy. The average Joe Schmoe isn’t capable of making intelligent decisions. It must be left to some supreme decider who knows much better than us what is right for all of us. We have to have that overlord protecting us from ourselves.
Ozymandias however is the ultimate evil, no matter how much he is painted as a hero by the film. His vision of destruction of some of the human race so that the rest of us may thrive has been shared by tyrants since the dawn of time. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao, are just a few from the recent past who shared his vision of how to create a utopian society.
Everything about the conclusion of Watchmen is disgusting and revolting, and I wish I’d never wasted the time on it. The only thing useful is that it’s a revealing look into the liberal mind and their vision of utopia.