Early Watchmen Reviews Praise the Series’ Embrace of Controversy

There’s been some skepticism surrounding HBO’s Watchmen, which debuts in just a matter of days. But judging by the first reviews, the network has yet another hit on its hands. Impressions for the debut episode of the series have begun to appear online, with many praising the Damon Lindelof-produced effort thus far. You can check out a few highlights below.

IndieWire’s Ben Travers found the show both insightful and exciting. He also singled out Jean Smart’s character arc as Laurie Blake. Specifically, he mentioned how Laurie’s outlook on masked vigilantes has changed. “The past and present are looking at one another, and neither likes what they see,” he wrote. “Watchmen asks how we move forward from there; how we evolve, how we coexist, how we trust one another again. There’s no easy answer, but you’ll be shocked at how rewarding the search can be while watching this Watchmen.

Collider’s Haleigh Foutch insisted that the series pays loving tribute to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel. Additionally, she appreciated how it may prompt audiences to think differently about the world around them. “It’s provocative and challenging, posing hard questions with no easy answers, and the conversation around the series is probably going to get pretty… intense,” she admitted. “But its greatest rewards are the strength of its perspective, the depth of its humanity, and the risky creative swings it takes to create an entirely new story that also feels right at home in the world of Watchmen.”

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Writing for Decider, Meghan O’Keefe echoed Foutch’s comments, calling the show “bold, breathtaking, and polarizing.” In the end, she deemed it to be “a triumph,” mainly because it emphasizes the masked characters’ humanity. “The show isn’t merely compelling because it’s slick, bold, and dangerous — which it is,” she said. “Watchmen is sensational because it never forgets that humans are behind those masks. Humans with lovers, children, pain, regret, and most of all, inherited trauma.”

Brandon Katz from Observer went a little deeper with his impressions. In fact, he compared it favorably to other comic book adaptations like The Boys, suggesting that Watchmen packs more substance. More notably, he also compared it to mainstream Marvel fare. “Watchmen is able to take the conspiracy window dressing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier—which is founded on the idea that the institutions we place our faith into will ultimately fail us—and push it to its natural and logical conclusion,” said Katz. “This is Thomas Hobbes incarnate.”

Of course, not everyone is a fan of the show. Variety’s Daniel D’Addario considered the series to be a bit scattered. In his mind, the abundance of new plot threads distracted from the story’s focal point. “What Watchmen sets out to do, taking the opportunity of an artwork perceived as unadaptable and writing a whole new story, is admirable,” D’Addario wrote. “But both that original artwork and, more crucially, this story deserve better. They deserve, perhaps, less.”

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Currently, Watchmen is sitting at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. The show might be a bit frustrating for some to follow. Regardless, there seems to be a consensus that Lindelof’s vision stays true to the spirit of the original comic while managing to tell its own story. Viewers can form their own opinions when it premieres on HBO on October 20.

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