"Easter egg is a very cutesy way of saying there has to be an open acknowledgement of the appropriation," Lindelof says of paying homage in the opening episode to the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, which his HBO series remixes. "We have appropriated the original Watchmen against the wishes of one of its parents. That's OK, because I tend to identify with and get along with people who don't listen to what their parents tell them. This Watchmen had to end with a moment that's a direct commentary on that appropriation, but also in a way that felt like it wouldn't be befuddling to someone who didn't know that there was a splotch of blood on the Comedian's badge — and he calls it a badge, by the way; he doesn't call it a pin." The premiere features one of many ways Watchmen pays tribute to the original comic book. "We started from a point of, 'Oh, Damon's going to do this,'" he tells The Hollywood Reporter, referring to his 2018 manifesto. "I hate referring to myself in the third person, but from a cultural standpoint, as someone who loves watching this stuff, it's the first thing you hear: 'Filmmaker x is now paired with Thing You Love y.' And so you're like, 'Oh, Todd Phillips, the Hangover guy, is going to do a Joker movie?' You always start from a place of (wondering) what that particular pairing is going to yield. From my perspective, from the moment I was offered Watchmen, I could only be in a defensive posture, for all the reasons we can go over ad nauseum. … I immediately needed to explain who I am, what's my relationship with the source material, here's what I'm going to do, here's what I'm not going to do."
Watchmen's Tulsa Race Massacre opening is a chilling reminder of a horrifying moment in American history: "The massacre is known as the 'worst incident of racial violence' in American history," says Matt Miller. "Hundreds of people were violently murdered during the Tulsa Race Massacre, but the exact body count is unknown. And some people watching this fictionalized version might not even know it ever happened, as "news reports were largely squelched, despite the fact that hundreds of people were killed and thousands left homeless." As NPR reported last year, the event is also not often taught in schools."
Watchmen is a blistering modern allegory: "When Watchmen is at its most humane, its most imaginative ... it feels like superlative television," says Sophie Gilbert. "The breadth of its vision, coupled with Lindelof’s imperative to poke at the relationship between nostalgia for the past and destruction in the present, make for storytelling that vibrates with urgency and insight. Watchmen takes place in a world where the culture wars have mutated into real violence and hate. It allows us to see how deeply rooted those impulses are, and to think about what, if anything, might ever be enough to defeat them."
Regina King on her Watchmen costume: "I was blown away the first time I saw it," she says. "We went through so many different versions of this costume until we got to this. The skirt as a cape. To bring on that feeling of the Caped Crusader was always part of (Sharen) Davis and Damon’s idea. They wanted to give that nod to the old school caped superhero, but not have it look old school. Still feel sexy but be strong. And sexy is not the first thought. But like, a dude is like, “Sh*t, if I was a woman and I was wearing a costume, that’d be the one I’d wear!” (laughs)."