The DCEU is rapidly heading toward a multiverse crossover with various other DC worlds – and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen should be included in the fun.
Should Watchmen be included in the DCEU multiverse, or left to its own bleak devices in a separate corner? By their very nature, shared movie universes are a chaotic gathering of A-list names and contradicting plot lines, but the DCEU’s journey has been bumpy even by those standards. Working from Zack Snyder’s vision, the DCEU began as a traditional shared world comprising solo movies and team-ups, but since Warner Bros. opted for a post-Justice League revamp, DCEU efforts have become far more standalone. With 2022’s The Flash, however, the franchise will head in completely the opposite direction, opening up the multiverse to include any and all DC fare, including Michael Keaton’s 1989 Batman. A crossover with the Arrowverse has already been done via Crisis, and it’s surely only a matter of time until every live-action DC property is part of one big multiverse. Except from possibly one…
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In 2009, Zack Snyder released an intensely gritty superhero movie based on beloved DC characters, and received a shockingly polarizing response. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Based on the landmark graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Snyder’s Watchmen deviated quite far from the tone of the comic, but found plenty of fans nonetheless. Traditionally, Watchmen (both the comic and the movie adaptation) has existed inside its own pocket of DC lore, and not without good reason. But with The Flash primed to bust open the multiverse on the big screen, the Watchmen’s isolation could easily change, and there are many compelling reasons that it should.
The stylistic visuals and uncompromising darkness of Snyder’s Watchmen was, in hindsight, a precursor to the director’s DCEU, and this makes Doctor Manhattan and the gang perfect additions to the movie multiverse. Snyder injected both with tonal grayness and hard-hitting attitude, and this means a Watchmen/DCEU crossover is far easier at the movies than inside the pages of comic books. In terms of how the Watchmen might transition to mainstream continuity, there’s the Doomsday Clock comic story. This limited series revealed that Manhattan created the “New 52” multiverse in response to Flashpoint, and as these seismic revelations come to light, figures from prime DC blur into Watchmen territory and vice versa. The 2022 The Flash movie looks to be incorporating elements of Flashpoint, and this gives Doctor Manhattan an open invitation to cameo, reordering the DCEU as we know it.
And it isn’t just Zack Snyder’s mucky fingerprints over both that make Watchmen ideal for the DCEU multiverse. With Superman’s trial and Ben Affleck’s permanently-angry Batman, the DCEU has raised questions over the morality of superheroes as idols to be worshiped. This theme sets up the Watchmen world nicely, with Moore’s comic (and the HBO miniseries sequel) renowned for asking tough moral questions. Watchmen existing in the DCEU multiverse doesn’t necessarily mean the likes of Ozymandias need to become permanent fixtures – indeed, many of the titular superhero group needn’t appear at all – but to acknowledge Watchmen‘s world in The Flash, and infuse some of that unique DNA into future stories (alongside a potential Doctor Manhattan cameo) would be more than enough.
Although the notion of Watchmen in the DCEU is undoubtedly tantalizing, there are a few vital counterarguments to consider. Bad blood between Moore and DC extends beyond just a single property, but has been especially prominent with Watchmen. The legal dispute is too involved to be detailed fully here but, essentially, the writer takes issue with DC using his world and characters without consent. Before Doomsday Clock, Moore and Gibbons both expressed their opposition to a Watchmen crossover with mainstream DC, meaning any live-action involvement in the DCEU would be against the express wishes of the creators. To avoid encroaching onto morally dubious group, any multiverse crossover would need to be understated and well-earned. Not just Batman and Rorschach solving crimes together.
Additionally, Doomsday Clock was, for want of a better term, a bit rubbish. The Watchmen sequel was widely criticized, and perhaps wouldn’t be ideal source material for a DCEU franchise already packed with division. A marriage between the two might be better saved for if and when Warner Bros. restores the SnyderVerse. Since the Justice League debacle, the DCEU has walked a lighter path, both to great effect (Shazam) and not-so-great effect (Wonder Woman 1984). As the franchise increasingly sheds its darkness, any Watchmen connection looks increasingly remote. If Zack Snyder was eventually handed the reins of a DC multiverse story, however, the temptation might be too strong to resist.
More: Dr. Manhattan Vs Superman: Which Superhero Would Win?
- The Suicide Squad (2021)Release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2022)Release date: Mar 04, 2022
- DC Super Pets (2022)Release date: May 20, 2022
- Black Adam (2022)Release date: Jul 29, 2022
- The Flash (2022)Release date: Nov 04, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
- Shazam 2 (2023)Release date: Jun 02, 2023
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