Doctor Manhattan Isn’t A Martian: Everything You Need To Know For HBO’s Watchmen

Photo: Photofest.

This weekend, Watchmen will premiere on HBO, and in addition to trying to figure out who all the new superheroes are, you might specifically be wondering, who is that blue guy?

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America, meet your new favorite stoic superhero: Doctor Manhattan.

Doctor Manhattan, alter ego of the former scientist Jonathan Osterman, is one of the main characters of the original Watchmen comics and has been confirmed to be in the new TV series. Fans may have noticed him in the first trailer, his blue hand reaching down to pick up a blue mask. Doctor Manhattan is one of the only Watchmen who has powers that allow him to manipulate space and time. In the original comics, he gained the powers during a freak accident when he was ripped apart in a nuclear test chamber and then put himself back together in form of a tall, hairless, and (usually) naked blue man. 

While series creator Damon Lindelof confirmed that the comics are canon for his adaptation, the series will see the characters of Doctor Manhattan and others 30 years after the original events.

“We're married to certain things that the canon put out, like Vietnam is a state, or that Robert Redford was running for president against Nixon, or that Adrian Veidt dropped an enormous fake alien being in the middle of Manhattan that killed 3 million people. That is a 9/11-like event. What does, 30 years after something like that happens, what does the world look like?” Lindelof told Esquire

As far as Doctor Manhattan’s origins from the Watchmen comics, the man essentially becomes less and less human after his lab accident and after being made a weapon by the U.S. government. Doctor Manhattan uses his powers to win the Vietnam War in the original timeline, but then, much like actual Vietnam veterans returning home, is viciously attacked by the public and accused of giving his former team partners cancer with his radioactivity.

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Doctor Manhattan seeks solitude by hiding out on Mars, but returns to Earth in part thanks to his attraction to Laurie Juspeczyk, known as the second Silk Spectre, and a war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan that breaks out partially due to his absence as a threat. It is then that Doctor Manhattan is framed for a staged fake alien attack by fellow Watchmen Adrian (Ozymandias) that kills more than 3 million people in New York. Doctor Manhattan confronts Adrian, but decides not to reveal his scheme once he realizes that it has brought peace to Earth. Doctor Manhattan is then, however, forced to kill his fellow crime-stopping teammate Rorschach, whose black-and-white politics (get it?) make him determined to expose the secret attack. Doctor Manhattan leaves Earth again after the events of the comics, so he has likely spent 30 years off Earth at the beginning of Lindelof’s Watchmen series. 

If all of that is too confusing to follow, you can watch Zack Snyder’s movie adaptation of Watchmen — but the end of the film will not be canon for Lindelof’s TV series.

As far as superpowers go, Doctor Manhattan seems invincible by all measures. Because he has complete awareness of and control over atomic and subatomic particles he can seemingly perform any task that you can think of, and doesn’t need to eat, sleep, or drink to keep living. 

Though it is not yet known who will play Doctor Manhattan in the new series, if and when he makes his appearance, there is sure to be drama. After all, how can terrorists beat someone who is invincible?

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