Monday, April 6, 2009

Ending Vs. Ending.


SPOILER WARNING. So a lot of the discussion prior to the Watchmen movie coming out was regarding the change to the ending. Since seeing it, most people agree it was not a major loss to switch up the ending (although, a lot of the little details that *did* get changed/lost bugged me), and I can see where they are coming from and somewhat agree. However, it did make me think a little bit about whether or not either plan was that good of an idea after all.

I'll briefly recap:
In the Comics:
Ozymandias, the worlds smartest man, realises that he'll never truly make a difference fighting petty crime, gives up adventuring and begins a massive commercial empire. Using his vast wealth, he 'kidnaps' a slew of the worlds greatest scientific and creative minds, takes them to an island to work on a 'movie', all as a front for creating a terrifying alien organism with psychic powers. To truly make his plan work, he has to find a way to get rid of Doc Manhatten, the only being powerful enough to stop him.

The Comedian finds out about this plot, and breaks down. Ozy kills him to protect his plan, and exiles Manhatten. As the world is on the very verge of nuclear war, Ozy teleports the 'Alien' to New York, where it dies, taking most of the city with it. People die but it leads to world peace as everyone bands together to fight the implied threat of alien invasion.

In the Movie:
Ozymandias realises that he'll never truly make a difference fighting petty crime, gives up adventuring and begins a massive commercial empire. Using his vast wealth and his connections to Doc Manhatten, he starts project S.Q.U.I.D., which is a front to hide his true intentions of building a machine that can cause massive explosions similar to Manhatten's power. To truly make his plan work, he has to find a way to get rid of Manhatten, the only being powerful enough to stop him.

The Comedian finds out about this plot, and breaks down. Ozy kills him to protect his plan, and exiles Manhatten. While the world is on the very verge of nuclear war, Ozy uses the machine to blow up cities around the world, ending with New York. People die but it leads to world peace as everyone bands together to fight the implied threat of Doc Manhatten.

In the final analysis:
So, its a happy ending all round (almost). Both versions end up roundabout the same way, although the world banding together to fight a god character is either retarded or a heavy handed metaphor. However, I find it odd that a story so very very bleak it can turn so positive so quickly. In the comic it happens in about one page, and we're not talking about a ray of hope, we are talking the full rainbow of hope. In both versions, Russia is busy throwing it's weight around and America has it's finger resting on the button, ready to launch a counter attack, should it come to it. Suddenly, everyone's slapping each other's backs and running off to fight the version-specific-scapegoat.

To me, Ozy's attack is more likely to start WW3 than prevent it. In the comics, everyone in the surrounding area dies as soon as the Alien is teleported, people in the area around that suffer crippling mental distress. Surely the initial report would indicate there's been some kind of superweapon deployed. The immediate analysis would be that it's most probably an attack by the Russians, and that American retaliation must be swift before they get a chance to deploy again.

In the movie, it's even more insane. Many cities across the world are hit by what appears to be America's superweapon... With the very last city being New York, at least 30 minutes after the first attack if I'm remembering correctly. Surely the mirror opposite of the comic book ending would happen here, Russia would assume America has attacked and fire their nukes in retaliation. Alternatively, America could assume Russia's push into Afganistan was just the beginning of a world wide push, with these latest explosions being the next stage.

Let's also not forget that the movie is set in the 80's... Sure, it's a world that's been enhanced by Manhatten, but Ozy's still only got a crappy 2 color screen computer, and he's the richest (or at least, one of them) man in the world. Their communication network is hardly comparable to the the wonderous world wide coverage we've grown accustomed to these days. Surely this whole ordeal would create an immediate nationwide/worldwide panic and confusion as fingers are pointed in every direction (mostly Russia/America), and thats not even taking into account the religous end-of-days style fear (Manhatten is considered to be a god after all).

So I dunno... I mean, far be it for me to try and second guess the smartest man in the world (or a writer as insanely talented as Moore for that matter), but there had to be a better way to go about 'Saving the world'. It's important to remember that Ozy is always trying to do the right thing. There's certainly nothing in the story that suggests he's been corrupted by his power, aside from possibly his self doubt at the end. The point was always to scare the world into unification by providing a greater threat to worry about. Not all great leaders have to rely upon intimadation to get things done though. I have a couple of ideas that don't involve indescriminate killing:

- Saving the world through capitalism:
Ozy already has a massive empire, so rather than funneling money to his doomsday plan, he instead uses his money to branch out into all nations. Slowly and surely expanding his entire corporation, he ends up with a monopoly over most of the major industries of the world, particularly those involved in weapons production. Self-sabotaging research and developent to slow the technological growth, and moderating construction costs to slow the supply, Ozy is able to effectively control the government through logistics eventually bending them to a shared view of peace.

-Saving the world through adverstising:
Having already cracked the secret of business by monitoring global sentiment via advertising, Ozy realises the process can work in reverse too. Using his wealth, Ozy takes control of the worlds media, steering global sentiment away from war by changing the way the world sees itself. Creating guidelines, he eliminates stereotyped images, which has the knock on affect of lessoning racism, bigotry and other hatred and promoting a united world view.

-Saving the world by manipulating Doc Manhatten.
After reading his psyche report, Ozy realises Manhatten is growing less and less connected to the world. Rather than accelerating that as he did in the book, he attempts to slow it down as much as possible by maintianing as many strands to Jon Osterman as possible. Then, taking advantage of Manhatten's willingness to 'Do as he's told', Ozy can pretty much do anything. Get Manhatten to steal every nuclear warhead at once in the world and deposit them in the sun? No problem. Turn vast sections of barren land into fertile farming land and end world hunger? Easy. It might sound a little riduculous, but Manhatten is pretty much capable of anything as far as the story goes. In the movie he's even helping out Ozy. It might not be the end all, but it would definitely halt an immediate nuclear war.

-Super power up Rorschach.
Give him a giant robot or something. And then unleash him on the world. Would scare the crap out of me...

Note: None of these plans would support Rorschach's mask killer theory.

So there you go. Note that none of those will truly save the world from itself, but neither did Ozy's plan in the comic/movie. Both scenes end in the office of the New Frontiersman, and even though America and Russia are all chummy chummy, we still get a glimspe that racism and hatred haven't died with the squid. Still, it's got to be better to do what you can rather than do nothing at all.

(As a side note: I did the image last night in a tiny amount of time. It turned out being strangely prophetic.

Seriously though... I can see how being Manhatten would get dull.. but there must've been times it was great. You wouldn't have to ride the bus anymore and you could teleport girl's clothes right off of them, which would be great at parties.)

2 comments: