Just How Dark Will ‘Watchmen’ Be?

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Dr. Manhattan and The Comedian in a bar in Saigon following the cease fire in Vietnam
Photo: DC Comics

Let me lead off by telling you this article does have a story spoiler in it if you have never read the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel “Watchmen”. However, if you have already read the novel this article is going to be quite informative as I just couldn’t handle not asking Jeffrey Dean Morgan about a specific scene from the novel that I felt had to be in the movie and could not be changed in any way. The scene I refer to is pictured above and takes place at the end of the Vietnam War in which both The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) play a large role in.

The scene is a defining scene but it is extremely graphic and will certainly raise some eyebrows at the MPAA if not at Warner Bros. as well. Throughout the interview Morgan had consistently referred to how tough shooting some of his scenes had been.

“Getting into the heads of these characters was kind of an ordeal. The actions of The Comedian are brutal sometimes.” He continued, “This is stuff that’s a little different than anything I have ever done, and it was stuff that I had a hard time with. There are a couple of things The Comedian does, and I never ever in a million years thought there was something I would have to think twice about, as an actor, but I could make no excuses for it. There were a couple of rough days of filming where I was just like, ‘This is tough.'”

I am only going to discuss one scene, but I am sure “Watchmen” fanatics will easily be able to figure out what the second scene Morgan is referring to. However, my main concern was making sure the Vietnam scene was still 100% intact and Morgan was quick to reply, “Yeah, yeah. It’s there. It’s tough, that’s a tough thing. I think that scene and the [other scene] were two things that I’ll forever remember as an actor.”

In the scene The Comedian, a.k.a. Edward Blake, is approached by a pregnant Vietnamese woman. She enters the bar and says, “Now war is over, Mr. Eddie. Now I must talk with you.” Blake is far from interested in dealing with a pregnancy as this woman was obviously just a late night distraction he never expected to deal with again.

He dismisses her saying, “We got nothin’ to talk about. I’m leavin’!” The woman tells him how she cannot walk away from the pregnancy, she can’t forget it to which Blake says, “Well that’s unfortunate because that’s just what I’m gonna do…”

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian in Watchmen
Photo: Warner Bros.

The woman becomes irate, smashes a bottle and slashes at Blake’s face cutting a deep gash (pictured above to the right), scarring him for the rest of his life. Standing to the side is Dr. Manhattan, observing the situation as he has become accustomed to doing when it comes to any form of human behavior. Severely bleeding Blake grabs his gun and points it at the pregnant woman as tears stream down her face.

“Blake don’t…” is all Manhattan can get out before the gun goes off, “…do it,” he finishes his thought as she lay dead on the floor bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Dr. Manhattan looks on as the pregnant woman dies at his feet
Photo: DC Comics

Graphic, I know, but imperative to the story. Dr. Manhattan says to Blake, “Blake, she was pregnant. You gunned her down.” This is something you don’t expect from Manhattan as he has grown to think little of humans, as they have become more of a distraction to him as a result of his massive intellect. His concern is actually more unexpected than The Comedian shooting the woman.

Blake tends his wounds and acknowledges killing the woman but lets Manhattan know he could have very easily stopped him. Manhattan is virtually the only real superhero in the story with actual superpowers. He can transport people and change the molecules of any physical object. “You coulda changed the gun into steam,” says Blake. It’s a defining moment for both characters and vital it occurs just the same way. The graphic nature of the scene is what makes it so powerful and Morgan does not deny its importance.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re staying very true to this whole thing and yeah, that’s there,” he said. “It had to be. It’s a big time defining moment for my character. It had to be there. It’s the history of the scar, the whole deal. You can’t take that away man.”

Sure, it may be easy to talk about now that it is over, but when I asked him how he prepared for such a scene his words alone tell you it wasn’t easy. “I don’t know how I prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for it. As much homework as I had done and as many times as I read this book, I don’t think I was prepared to put a gun to a pregnant woman’s head and blow her head off.”

Anyone concerned any one of the actors playing the lead roles in this film didn’t do their homework can forget about that worry. Morgan isn’t the only one that dug deep to find meaning for their character as I will tell you more about next week, but let Morgan tell you a little more about his approach to The Comedian and what made the character so fascinating for him.

“The arcs The Comedian goes through are substantial to where his very being is questioned and he questions himself,” he said. “At first glance you think you are playing this bastard, just a mean son-of-a-bitch but the more I looked at the layers to this guy… How do you read a book about a guy that does the things he does and yet you sympathize with him? How the hell does that happen? I found that fascinating.”

The thumbnails lead to a gallery of images featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian. For more on Watchmen click here.