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March 5, 2009

A God Among Men

drmanhattanfromtrailer.jpg

We'll probably be talking a lot about Watchmen in the upcoming days and I really look forward to seeing what Russ Breimeier has to say about the film. I screened it several days ago and it hasn't let go of me since. One of the things that particularly struck me was the manner in which the film examined what it would look like if a god were to truly live among us.

In Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan stands in for Superman, the only superhero of the bunch to actually possess supernatural powers (some of which Superman could only dream of). Rather than hide in plain sight and devote himself to doing good for others as Superman did, Watchmen contends that a superman/god would be so far beyond us and have so little in common with us that he would actually feel the opposite of empathy - he would look upon this planet with as little consideration as we might look upon an ant colony. Dr. Manhattan has completely lost touch with his humanity and no longer cares what happens to Earth or the people on it. His heightened state has eradicated his compassion and perhaps even his soul.

It's a fascinating quandary and raises some legitimate meta-questions, particularly when viewed against the Judeo-Christian worldview, which believes the experiment of a God living amongst humans has already occurred. What made all the difference in that model? Could love for a thing also be tied to the creative impulse that gave it life in the first place? Something to think about...

Related Tags: Dr. Manhattan, God, Superman, Watchmen

Comments

FWIW, to the extent that Dr. Manhattan is "standing in" for anyone, it's not Superman, but Captain Atom.

Watchmen was originally conceived and pitched with a cast of characters from the Charlton Comics universe acquired by DC Comics, but DC wouldn't let Moore use the Charlton characters, so he and Dave Gibbons developed alternate versions of the characters.

It's not quite a super hero roman a clef but it's something like it. Rorschach = The Question, Nite Owl = Blue Beetle, Comedian = Peacemaker, Ozymandias = Thunderbolt, etc. Not quite that simple (e.g., Comedian has some Nick Fury in him, Rorschach and Nite Owl both have a bit of Batman), but that's the initial impetus.

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