If you watched the Watchmen premiere last night (and you should’ve, because it was incredible), but have never read the Watchmen comic, one particular scene might have left you puzzled. In involved a quick rainfall of baby squid coming from seemingly nowhere, and it was something the characters on the show are clearly used to. There’s even an alarm system in place and an official squid street clean-up crew. So what’s the deal? If you’ve read the comic, you probably figured it out. But if your knowledge of Watchmen starts and ends with Zack Snyder’s film adaptation, you might be scratching your head. That’s where this post comes in. Below, learn all about the Watchmen squid. Potential spoilers follow.
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie adaptation sticks very close to the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons comic. So close, in fact, that Snyder more or less used the comic to storyboard his film, recreating entire panels in live-action. Despite all of this, the Watchmen movie makes one major change involving how the story ends. In the film, superhero Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias, detonates an energy reactor in New York City, killing millions.
In Veidt’s mind, this genocide is necessary for the common good: ending nuclear tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. by having the two superpowers unite against a common enemy. That enemy is Dr. Manhattan, one of the only superheroes in the story who has actual superpowers. Veidt frames Dr. Manhattan for the destruction, and Dr. Manhattan agrees to go along with the lie in order to maintain peace on earth. But that’s not what happens in the comic. There, Veidt instead engineers a gigantic alien squid monster to stage an alien attack on NYC. The goal is the same: unite the U.S. and U.S.S.R. against a common enemy – but that enemy is an alien squid rather than Dr. Manhattan.
The Watchmen TV series is using the comic for inspiration, not Snyder’s film. Which means the squid attack is canon. Future episodes of the show actually reference the attack, but for now, we have the scene from the premiere where a baby squid-filled rain falls on the car of Angela Abar (Regina King). It’s not addressed how this ties into the alien squid attack, but it’s easy to surmise that this occurrence is meant to be a direct result of that event some 30 years ago.
Another reference to the alien squid attack comes during the interrogation scene between Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) and a suspected member of the white supremacist group the Seventh Kavalry. Looking Glass asks: “Do you believe that transdimensional attacks are hoaxes staged by the U.S. government?”, indicating that a conspiracy theory that the squid attack was staged has become adopted by members of fringe groups. At the end of the Watchmen comic, a journal kept by vigilante Rorschach – who refused to go along with the squid cover-up, and was killed because of it – arrives at the offices of the right-wing publication The New Frontiersman.
Supplementary material for the Watchmen TV show reveals that the New Frontiersman published the journal in full:
The bookazine became a best-seller that appealed to a wide variety of curiosities, including right wing extremists. Some take it as a history book, others, devotional literature. For them, “Rorschach’s Journal”…challenges the new, heretical orthodoxy that makes them feel marginalized and obsolete, written by a revolutionary they revere as a saint. It rationalizes their conviction that our current president is an illegitimate president, brought to power because of the E.B.D.E., which, again, per the convoluted logic of Godfrey’s conspiracy theory, was essentially an insidious coup concocted the embittered liberal elite, as the ramifications of the D.I.E. paved the way for the Blue Wave of ‘92. This belief is the justification for any number of anti-social behaviors, from the formation of drop-out communities known as “Nixonvilles,” to domestic terrorists like the aforementioned Seventh Kavalry, who protest the president by committing violence against symbols of the executive branch, which is to say, law enforcement.
The publication no doubt helped spread the conspiracy theory about the squid attack being staged. This raises another question: is the squid rain being engineered by the government to maintain the looming threat of alien invasion and therefore keep the peace? Or is this some sort of genuine side-effect of the squid that Veidt created decades ago? Maybe we’ll get the answer in the weeks to come.
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