Watchmen Opening Sequence Breakdown

Alan Moore is one of the greatest writers in the graphic novel genre, so it came as no surprise when Hollywood wanted to get their hands on his work and bring it to the big screen. Films which have been adaptations from Moore’s stories include: From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V For Vendetta. Although the films were enjoyable and got the premise across they did not measure up to the comic book originals. However one film which came rather close to being just as incredible as the graphic novel – and I know a lot of fans will disagree – is Watchmen.0600005030QAr1.qxd:0600005030QAr1Even if some fans were not impressed with the film, it has to be said that director Zack Snyder was the perfect choice to take on the film, he gave the movie the exact feel which the novel did in its pages. With the amazing camera shots, dark-atmospheric lighting and slow-paced fight scenes which mimic the comic panels exactly, even if you weren’t a fan of the graphic novel, it is hard not to be a fan of the film. Mainly because it a completely different take on the super-hero genre.

The entire film was an achievement, but the one thing that stood out was the opening credits sequence – one of the best which I have seen. The sequence – which cleverly has Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are-A-Changin’ in the background – shows a time-line of events which have occurred before the setting of the actual film, in 1985. First we are introduced to the original Minutemen of the 1940s, they were mostly police men who threw on costumes to fight crime, and then as it goes on we see their demise and the rise of the Watchmen. We also see how – in this universe – the heroes have been present in most of America’s biggest events. Towards the end, the heroes, and vigilante justice is shown to be outlawed, but when there are no more heroes on the streets, who will protect us from evil.

Here is a breakdown of the opening credits sequence, just a warning, there may be a few spoilers for those who have not seen the film.

1Nite Owl socks an armed robber in the jaw outside of a movie theatre. If you look in the background we see a couple leaving the theatre, the couple are Bruce Wayne’s parents. The wall behind Nite Owl is plastered with Batman comic posters, due to Wayne’s parents not being killed, Batman is a fictional character in this universe.

2Silk Spectre is introduced holding a newspaper which headlines her recent criminal bust.

3The Comedian is shown capturing an armed robber by the throat, with his classic grin and cigar present.

4We see a picture being taken of the original Minutemen, which included (from left to right): Silhouette, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Nite Owl, Captain Metropolis, The Comedian, Silk Spectre and Hooded Justice.

5Miss Jupiter (Silk Spectre) is shown on the side of the Enola Gay as it drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

6Silhouette kisses the nurse instead of the sailor on V-J Day in Times Square, in resemblance of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo.

7Dollar Bill is shot and killed after his cape became trapped in the doors of the bank which he was hired to protect.

8Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre) retires after becoming pregnant, a party is thrown which largely mimics Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’.

9Mothman is arrested and taken to a mental asylum in Maine.

10Silhouette is murdered because of her sexual relationship with the nurse she kissed. The Comedian continues to fight crime and Nite Owl reveals his true identity as Hollis Mason.

The rise of the Watchmen.

11Rorschach is introduced as a child waiting in a corridor, whilst his mother whores herself out to various men.

12Dr. Manhattan is shown shaking hands with president John F. Kennedy.

13The Comedian is shown to be responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, he is wearing the same clothes as the ‘three tramps’, the men who were originally arrested for the crime. The smoke which was said to have been seen from behind the fence turns out to be a puff from The Comedian’s cigar.

14Rorschach is introduced through his R. R. calling card next to two unconscious criminals.

15Elliot Erwitt’s famous photograph, ‘Peacemarch’, is referenced as a female protester places a flower into a soldiers gun before they are fired upon.

16Nite Owl 2 is shown to be a vital part in Andy Warhol’s work rather than Marilyn Monroe.

17Dr. Manhattan is seen by Neil Armstrong as he first sets foot on the moon in 1969, Armstrong recites the line “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky”. This is from the myth that when Armstrong was younger he heard his neighbour Mrs. Gorsky shout “Oral sex? I’ll give you oral sex when that kid next door walks on the moon!”

18Ozymadias is introduced outside of the famous Studio 54 club in New York City, with The Village People, Mick Jagger and David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust standing behind him.

19The full Watchmen group are shown (from left to right): The Comedian, Silk Spectre 2, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Nite Owl 2 and Rorschach.

20As the final shot zooms out we see various televisions depicting different stations which bring us to the present. Bulletins like ‘Vigilantes Outlawed’, ‘Nixon Elected For Third Term’ and scientists moving the ‘Doomsday Clock’ up to 10 minutes to midnight. Before we here a civilian shout “Get out of here vigilante.” And spraying ‘Who Watches The Watchmen?”on the window, a phrase which asks the question, if the Watchmen are watching what we do, then who is watching them?