For me, if nothing else, “Before Watchmen” presents an opportunity to get something off my chest regarding today’s culture of remakes, reboots and sequelitis in comics, film, television and beyond.
In short, here comes a rant. Apologies in advance.
There isn’t much we know about the “Before Watchmen” story yet, but we do know this: “Before Watchmen” is about money. There are awesome creative forces behind the project, yes, but come on… this is about dollar signs. Green-lighting “Watchmen” prequels is in essence printing money. It’s going to sell. It’s going to sell big. It could launch a whole new series of “Before Watchmen” films, and other forms of media that we haven’t even dreamed up yet.
“Before Watchmen” is a no-brainer for everyone involved (who isn’t named Alan Moore). Honestly, it’s a no-brainer for me as well.
I am going to read “Before Watchmen.” Heck, I’m looking forward to it. As others have already said, the creative teams lined up are too talented to ignore wholesale. How can you not be intrigued by a Darwyn Cooke “Minutemen” series, or Azzarrello and Bermejo bringing “Rorschach” back to life? Really, what if “Before Watchmen” is excellent? Wouldn’t that be great?
But let’s say the talent doesn’t deliver. Let’s say it’s the steaming pile so many expect it to be. I ask you: so what? You’ll always have your “Watchmen,” right? For the people out there who didn’t care for Snyder’s “Watchmen” movie, did that ruin the graphic novel for you? Did that crush the story you first fell in love with? I’m guessing, for most of you, the answer is no.
Take the American “Akira” that’s threatening its way into existence. It’s not a movie I’m particularly looking forward to — maybe it’ll surprise me and it’ll be great, but I’m not banking on it — but even if it’s a disaster, will that turn me against the original “Akira”? Doubtful. I don’t hate the first “Matrix” because I hate the sequels, and I don’t hate the original “Star Wars” trilogy because I hate the prequels. Likewise, I don’t hate “Watchmen” because I don’t care for the film, and I sincerely doubt I’ll hate “Watchmen” if I don’t care for the prequels.
I guess my point is this: if you don’t want “Before Watchmen,” it does not have to exist for you. No amount of protest is going to blink it off of bookshelves, but you don’t have to take it on just because it’s out there. It’s on you to engage or ignore. If you want to leave your “Watchmen” reading and viewing experience pure as the day it was made, you can ignore. If you’re willing to tap into something that might enrich your “Watchmen” experience, you can engage. And if you engage, and you do not like, guess what — you can default back to ignore.
As a wise man with awesome green hair once said, “The power is yours.” He’s right! You’ve got the power (and the touch) to read “Watchmen” however you want to. And I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, no amount of before or after will change my reading of “Watchmen.” Bring on the prequels, reboots and remakes. I can take ’em.
(Then again, I’m the guy who seriously wants this “Watchmen” animated series to happen. Maybe I’m not the best person to consult on this one.)