A month after news broke that Lost co-creator Damon Lindeloff is in talks with HBO about a Watchmen live-action television series, it appears that the project's status may have been overstated.
"As of right now, I haven’t had any meetings with HBO about Watchmen," Lindelof told TV Line. "I’ve been very vocal about my love for those 12 issues … that they were completely and totally inspiring for all the storytelling that I did subsequently, and that I owe a debt to it. I do feel like I have to weigh the balance of ‘should it exist’ before I decide to take it on, and I’m sort of in that process now. I hold the source material in such high regard, it would literally be the worst feeling in the world to screw it up … all I can say is I’m thinking about Watchmen a lot right now."
Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is the story of an alternate history in which superheroes first emerged in the 1940s, drastically altering the course of history over the subsequent decades. Set in 1985, as the United States and the Soviet Union inch ever closer to World War III, the comic centers on the investigation into the murder of the former costumed government agent The Comedian, which leads to the discovery of a deadly conspiracy to defuse the powder keg and bring peace to the world at the expense of millions of lives.
Despite his love of the story, Lindelof's apprehension about adapting the seminal work for television isn't unprecedented. In 2009, Justice League director Zack Snyder brought Watchmen to the screen in a film that largely divided comic book fans and mainstream audiences, grossing a mere $185.3 million worldwide on an estimated $130 million production budget.
Additionally, Moore has famously made his feelings perfectly clear about DC Comics and Warner Bros. doing anything with Watchmen. “What the comics industry has effectively said is, ‘Yes, this was the only book that made us briefly special and that was because it wasn’t like all the other books.’ Watchmen was something that stood on its own and it had the integrity of a literary work,” Moore said when interviewed about DC's prequel Before Watchmen. “What they’ve decided now is, ‘So, let’s change it to a regular comic that can run indefinitely and have spin-offs.’ and ‘Let’s make it as unexceptional as possible.’”
Best known for his work on Lost, the rebooted Star Trek films and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Lindelof just wrapped three seasons of The Leftovers on HBO.