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‘The Leftovers’ showrunner Damon Lindelof may helm HBO’s new ‘Watchmen’ series

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Fans of The Leftovers may still be in mourning, as the show concluded after a stellar third season that drew critical acclaim, but never got massive ratings. For his part, showrunner Damon Lindelof seems at peace with the show’s end, having sent it off with a proper conclusion. If he’s secretly harboring any grief, though, it looks like he could soon have a new project to take his mind off it; Variety reports that HBO is looking at Lindelof to take charge of its adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal comic Watchmen.

Published in 1986, Watchmen is an alternate history story in which superheroes played a major role in the development of 20th century America, going so far as to fight in the Vietnam War. By 1985, most superheroes have gone into retirement or else work for the government. When a retiree called The Comedian is found dead, a paranoid renegade named Rorschach decides to investigate, believing there is a conspiracy to wipe out the heroes.

It’s a dark tale, taking the central theme of superhero stories — that there are people with enormous power who operate outside the law — and stripping it of much of its optimism. Moore’s Watchmen is rooted in Cold War anxieties, with political corruption and the threat of nuclear annihilation looming large.

There is no word yet if Lindelof has officially signed on to the project. If HBO’s Watchmen gets off the ground, this will be the second major adaptation of the book, following Zack Snyder’s film version which premiered in 2009. The film drew mixed reviews; positive critics praised its visuals for a stylish emulation of the graphic novel format, while detractors pointed out that the story was overstuffed. The graphic novel is a sprawling work, with a nonlinear narrative and many digressions (including a comic within the comic, Tales of the Black Freighter).

Snyder was once involved in discussions with HBO about the series, but it seems likely he has taken a step back.

The scope and structure of the comic may lend itself more naturally to a series. Lindelof has experience with ambitious, nonlinear storytelling, having employed both in The Leftovers and Lost. Whether he signs on or not, the show is probably a long way off. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project is still in the early stages of development. HBO would be wise to sign him, as The Leftovers has proven to be one of its best shows despite its ratings struggles.

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