Watchmen has gained a whole new fan base since the 1986 graphic novel series was adapted for HBO earlier this year. Fans of the comic books had been wondering who the Watchmen would be since before it aired and slowly all were revealed but one: Doctor Manhattan. Ever since, viewers have been eagerly searching for clues and coming up with theories as to who might be the infamous and elusive superhero.
Doctor Manhattan is one of the main characters from the original Watchmen comic book series. The alter ego of former scientist Jonathan Osterman, he is the only Watchman to have real superpowers rather than natural-born strengths. With his powers, he can manipulate space and time.
In the series, Doctor Manhattan gained his powers in the most original way possible, during a freak accident. He was ripped apart in a nuclear test chamber and somehow reassembled in the form of a naked blue man. The HBO series picks up 30 years after the original events of the graphic novels. Doctor Manhattan left Earth after helping the United States win the Vietnam War.
What actor plays Doctor Manhattan on HBO’s Watchmen?
Doctor Manhattan is "here, in Tulsa, walking amongst us as a human being," according to Lady Trieu (Hong Chau). Episode 7 revealed that Doctor Manhattan has been disguised as Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the husband of detective Angela Abar (Regina King). But Cal is just the shell of a human hiding Doctor Manhattan, with another actor who has yet to be named playing him in his more familiar superhero form.
In an interview with the show’s creator Damon Lindelof, he revealed that having Doctor Manhattan assume the form of Cal was one of the first things he decided on when adapting the series for television. “We knew this relationship could only work if Manhattan took the form of a human, and so, the idea of Cal was born. And yeah, it came early. Almost from the jump,” Lindelof told The Hollywood Reporter. He goes on to explain that Doctor Manhattan and Angela are in love, but their relationship could only work if Manhattan took the form of a human.
Mateen is best known for playing Cadillac in The Get Down, W.D. Wheeler in The Greatest Showman, and Russel Thomas in Us. So far, to Watchmen viewers he has only been Cal the husband of Angela who lives a double life as vigilante Sister Night.
How is Cal Doctor Manhattan?
Fans theorized that Cal Abar was actually Doctor Manhattan early on, but last week’s episode seems to confirm it. Abdul-Mateen has been dropping hints that encouraged fans to think they were onto something. In episode 7, Angela comes for Cal with a hammer. It looks as though she pulls a hydrogen atom from his head, which is Doctor Manhattan’s symbol.
Abdul-Mateen posted a copy of the hospital report from 2009 to his Instagram for a patient named Calvin Jelani who was brought in by Angela for a head injury. However, the doctor’s notes don’t answer all of our questions. Did Doctor Manhattan take over the body of a real person like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or did he assume the form of someone like Mystique in X-Men? What it does confirm is that Doctor Manhattan returned to Earth from Mars about 20 years ago and has managed to go undetected.
Among the lengthy notes, it states that the patient declined treatment and “took great interest” in the doctor’s Doctor Manhattan bobblehead, which is suspicious for an adult who isn’t Doctor Manhattan.
What does Doctor Manhattan look like?
Without a disguise, Doctor Manhattan appears rather alien-like. In the preview for episode 8, he appears to be human-like in size, blue, and wears a suit and a mask.
In the comic books, he is a tall, hairless, blue man who often appears naked. He also appears wearing a suit and a blue mask to cover his face.
Why does Doctor Manhattan wear a mask?
Doctor Manhattan’s true face hasn’t been shown yet. We’ve only seen a blue mask and Cal ’s face, so in a way, he is always wearing a mask. When he meets Angela in Vietnam in the episode 8 flashback, he is also wearing a blue mask.
Historically, superheroes have worn masks to protect their identity. Given Doctor Manhattan’s long and troublesome history with his role in society, the apparent dislike that the Vietnamese have of him after he helped the U.S. win the war and colonize them as the 51st state, and what his powers mean for himself and others, it comes as no surprise that he would want to protect his identity as much as possible. Not to mention that there is always someone out there who wants to steal or eliminate a superhero’s power.
Masks are big in Watchmen, with everyone from the white supremacists who follow Rorschach wearing his mask to the police who are all masked. The season has revolved around vigilantes revealing their true identities and true motives.