My Favorite Scene: Watchmen (2009) “Opening Credits”

Watchmen is a polarizing film, just as it has been a polarizing graphic novel since its release in 1986.  The only graphic novel to make Time Magazine’s 100 Best Books of All-Time, Watchmen is a dense, dense piece of work that lends itself to multiple readings.  It has so much happening in every panel, on every page, that a movie adaptation of it was never going to please everyone.  Despite my problems with Zack Snyder recently, I happen to think he did about as good a job making a film out of Watchmen as is humanly possible (with the exception of casting Malin Ackerman as Silk Spectre, because she is painfully awful).  HBO is going to adapt the series in a much more decompressed format, and that may please more people, but I really admire Snyder’s film.  HBO is going to be hard-pressed to find a better Rorschach than Jackie Earle Haley.

The graphic novel spans generations and one of the most brilliant things Snyder did was, after the iconic opening murder of The Comedian (Jeffery Dean Morgan) was to have this five-minute credit sequence that traced the entire history of The Minutemen from their glory days to the current status quo.  It sets the tone for the whole film and contains SO much information SO efficiently handed out to the audience, that even though Watchmen is an extremely long film (depending on what cut you’re watching), this probably shaved 40 minutes of exposition off of the theatrical cut.  Also a little Dylan never hurt anything.  I can’t think of another film where the credits are my favorite scene, but in Watchmen, they are just that brilliantly done.Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson and Jeffery Dean Morgan in Watchmen

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Watchmen (2009) “Opening Credits””

  1. Didn’t really work as a single film. Needed to be a trilogy. Hrm. Seriously.

    The only reason you think this movie was clear is that you are a nerd who has read the graphic novel. Over five times, in fact. I am in the same boat. But I know people, smart people, who did not really know what was going on, because the film was just too dense, and the information came too relentlessly. Let’s face it, it’s already a profoundly disorienting world audiences are being asked to plunge into. This sequence you’re talking about here IS great, but if you have never heard of Watchmen, and are not in a comic book mindset, it is going to raise more questions than it answers. And not intriguing questions that make people want to progress. “I don’t know what the hell is going on” questions.

    It is not the bad movie I used to think it was. I now like it a lot. I wish it had not all been crammed into one film, but even in the face of that, it’s kind of amazing. I used to think the tone was off, now I like the weirdness, and the wild abandon of the darkness. But it is totally inaccessible, and there was an opportunity for the whole world to be initiated into the amazing alternate reality Moore and Gibbons created. Maybe the new series will do it.


  2. Rorschach is so incredibly good in this movie. I have to make a confession: about 50% of my love for Watchmen comes from this guy, and the fact that they brought him to life so perfectly warmed my heart and got me through the disappointment I felt as I watched the rest of the movie. I wish the new series were a spinoff about this guy, except that sometimes, usually, when an intriguing side character becomes the focus, the magic is lost.

    Rorschach IS the most endearing fictional psychopath of all time, and I don’t think anyone will ever surpass him. He is also the coolest superhero. Obviously he was based on other characters, but he has a charisma all his own.


  3. The opening credits are amazing. They are a must watch part of the movie packing in so many ideas, themes and back stories. This is sch a fantastic way to orientate viewers in this world and how things stand without incredibly dull dialogue or long flashback sequences.
    I enjoy the whole movie (find the middle bit stretches a little too long) but the opening credits are the standout moment.


  4. I had no idea what Watchmen would be about when I first saw it. I wasn’t into comics either, but I was and am, of course, into superhero and SF films, (and an unrepentant special effects junkie) so I went into the cinema blind with no expectations.
    … and came out completely gobsmacked!!! I loved it. I got the story, I loved the complex layers, and individual story arcs. I think it’s easy to underestimate what an audience can ‘absorb’ in a single sitting. I would’ve loved to see just the opening montage expanded into an entire movie all by itself though. It was bloody brilliant. 🙂 … or a bunch of episodes in the series.
    It was a few years later that I discovered it was an illustrated novel, so I tracked it down at my local library and was really impressed at how close the two iterations were.


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