The group of late high-school age boys yelled from behind my place in the line across to the emptying theater. Minutes before they were snickering at the huge crowd saying things like “check out the seventh graders” and “For all the people who have to be home by ten.”
But it was from that 7:30 Showing crowd that they spied their friend, Justin. He was traveling light, neither Soda nor empty pop-corn box in hand. He was flying solo, nary a friend (female or not) in sight. He walked like a man who was recently engaged, knowing his perspective had changed for the better.
“Hey, guys.” Justin smiled broadly.
“So? How was it?”
“I thought it was great. Good and Great.” Justin paused while examining something unseen; peering not deeply, but beneath his friends’ outer veneer. “I don’t think you guys’ll get it.”
“What? How come?”
“Well, it’s different; really different. It’s not your standard comic book movie…” Justin paused again “Have ya’ll read the book?”
“No but I saw the special Watchmen previews!” says two “I read a thing about the Watchmen game that’s coming out!” said another . One just nodded dopily.
“Yeah…” said Justin, “I don’t think you will like it….”
Later these same boys sat behind me. They oohed at the right violent parts. They whispered conspiratorially during sex scenes. They snickered every time Dr. Manhattan showed up on screen naked apparently forgetting that he, like they, has man-parts.
They never noted that Manhattan’s superior physique was nothing to the character: nudity a non-issue to a person who saw himself as no longer human. The concept that heroes like all people, are flawed and make mistakes—sometimes violent mistakes—flew right by them. They completely ignored that the gratuity of the love scene was because the characters finally saw each other in a way that the world (or past lovers) had never seen them. They sadly missed the moral ambiguity, the philosophical (unanswered) question of doing wrong for the greater good and the exceedingly sad punch line to the Comedian’s joke.
I think that the movie (like the comic books before it) will be appreciated by a cult minority. It will consist of people who will go to a movie willing to let the story happen instead of complaining about how stories should happen. People who can sit back and allow the very adult themes to have their say as long as that say is necessary to the tale. People who don’t have a problem going to the movie theater unhindered and alone. People like Justin.
As I left the theater that same crowd of boys shouted “that SUCKED!” They didn’t get it. They wouldn’t.
Justin was right.