But I digress. This is not, as a matter of fact, a Watchmen movie review. You can read those here, here, here, here, and here. However, one item that's always interested me about Watchmen--indeed, about the Charlton characters--that I thought I'd open for discussion.
Nite-Owl and Rorschach (or Blue Beetle and the Question, if you will) are whom I believe to be the "main" or lead characters in this universe, and yet they don't conform to the archetypes of the lead characters that we generally posit for a comics universe. Consider, in the DC Universe, Superman is the bright alien hero with super-powers who fights mostly with his brawn while Batman is the dark culmination of man's potential who fights mostly with his brain; we see this duplicated, purposefully, in Apollo and Midnighter in the Wildstorm Universe.
[Read the Collected Editions Beginner's Guide to Watchmen]
But neither Nite-Owl nor Rorschach are a good analogue for Superman nor Batman. Nite-Owl a billionaire with a cave of costumes in his basement, but he's neither the Bruce Wayne playboy nor the Batman detective. Rorschach's the detective, but not nearly a dark knight. Together, they equal just about a Batman, and Nite-Owl only slightly a be-speckled Clark Kent--if you want powers, you have to throw Dr. Manhattan into the mix, too. The archetypes just don't add up.
Someone today writing a Blue Beetle/Question book a la Superman/Batman would have to invent a whole new dictionary of character traits with which to play the characters off one another. Beetle is social whereas Question is subterranean. Beetle is trusting whereas Question is paranoid. Question is violent whereas Beetle is squeamish. Beetle, as one story might go, trusts his technology, whereas the only thing Question will rely on is his/her (depending on your favorite Question) fists.
And whereas most Superman/Batman stories come down to whether one hero "trusts" the other or not, for Question and Beetle the issue is in the end whether they remain, as Rorschach says, "good friends."
[Read the Collected Editions review of Absolute Watchmen]
I'm not, as you all know, as up on my Marvel Comics history as I am on my DC Universe, but I wonder if there's better parallels for the Nite-Owl/Rorschach or Blue Beetle/Question team with Marvel than with DC. Blue Beetle as Iron Man and Captain America as the Question doesn't quite work ... Blue Beetle as Cyclops and Rorschach as Wolverine? Someone who knows more about Marvel, chime in to suggest if there's any analogues there.
It's rare these days, I think, to find superheroes that don't conform to the Superman/Batman paradigm, and I think there's untapped potential in the Blue Beetle/Question team. Warner Bros seems so eager to find some way to produce Watchmen spin-offs; I shudder at the thought, but some sort of Nite-Owl/Rorschach story set before the events of Watchmen might just be the ticket.
So, the Watchmen movie -- love it or hate it? More importantly, is it good for graphic novels, or likely to turn readers away?