HBO’s Watchmen: A Look Behind the Mask at New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con came like a swift wind this year and HBO’s Watchmen is what swept me off my feet. The room lit up with the vibrations of possibilities as we sat in front and almost center of the Watchmen pilot episode screening in the Mainstage. A show we have all been curiously and excitedly waiting for, because the potential overfloweth. We have seen the trailers, made guesses and inferences to what could be happening. We likely have an older Ozymandias, a still disappeared Dr Manhattan and a country of masked law enforcement plus a renegade group of Rorschachs. The world these trailers depict felt like Willy Wonka’s factory – anything in this room you can eat. Let me tell you, this first episode gave me a tummy ache! There is not enough room in your stomach to take in what this episode shells out. Now I am not giving spoilers because not only does that go against nerd code, but I sure as hell want each and every person to experience this on their own.


The trailer gives you nothing but a keyhole look at this vast and ever origami unfolding world. Even if you found the key and opened the door, you would find it is a whole different room inside with more doors than the woods in Jack Skellington’s back yard. I was in the audience singing “What is this?”


The first episode broke open a rift into an alternate universe and I walked through terrified, but like the terrified you know is good for you. The shot selections, cast and intertwined storylines are top tier – Bastlike. The first episode begins with a moment in time very prevalent in black history – trigger warning for people who are familiar with this travesty – watching it, you feel it in your bones. This is the turning point at which you thought you knew what the show might do, but you have no idea. This is the Euphoria of comic entertainment, blending epic storytelling with fantastic visuals and phenomenal performances.

The pilot is a puzzle and with every moment you are trying to put the pieces together, it is a future? An alternate version? Possible reality? Then or now? You are thrown in and although you have questions about what is happening the questions are fueling the thrill of it all. I think this will replace my last HBO addiction – no not Euphoria we can still get future fixes of that, but yes the void of Game of Thrones. They are not similar – not at all, but I do feel you will gather every week to watch this program. You will want to find out what will happen with these characters, who will win, who will prosper and how every character interacts week to week.

The cast alone turns heads. The legendary Louis Gossett Jr. (Fiddler, Roots) graces the screen with Jeremy Irons (Simon Gruber, Die Hard with a Vengeance) and Jean Smart (Charlene Frazier Stillfield, Designing Women). These veterans all said yes to this script! I’m not going to tell you who they play, because believe it or not that would be spoilers. We also see some of our favorite actors blowing up right now like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Black Manta, Aquaman) he is taking over like Mahersala Ali (Cottonmouth, Luke Cage) – these actors never sleep!

But real talk Regina King (Kimara Walters, American Crime) is King, the G.O.A.T – better believe it. Regina is the main focus of the show, well at least what I discern from the pilot she is and I hope to all that is good it continues. This is Regina like you have imagined in your fan fiction mind and always wished would come true. She kicks ass and to a higher degree than you think in the trailer. The relationship between her boss and her is hilarious and comforting and dangerous, I won’t say who it is because that is also spoilers. But her and Yahya have chemistry off the charts and a relationship that snatches the words out your mouth. Ride or die legit. Also the level of melanin in this show is at Janelle Monae on the scales, highly melanated.



After the screening we had a chance to speak with not one cast member, not two, but damn near the whole cast. We had Irons, Gossett Jr., Smart, Abdul-Mateen II, King, Director Nicole Kassell, Creator Damon Lindelof and special guest Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons.

We got to hear first hand the amount of admiration, respect, love and history the creator Damon Lindelof has for the Watchmen graphic novel. He began the panel speaking about his inspiration from the comics and saying the creator has requested their name not be mentioned at this panel. It is well known that the creator of Watchmen has distanced himself damn near shunned the commercialism of his stories. You cannot blame him really, the concepts and details and message of his works speak to the opposite of commercialism. At the same time the inspiration it has birthed spawned some of the most radical thinkers and content for those the people who believe in dynamic stories and nuances in entertainment. I believe Damon Lindelof understood the dichotomy in this and found a way to execute it expertly. Staying true to the comics and expanding on a world to a depth which respects and understands the complex nature of the message.


The panel goes into detail of how Damon Lindelof brought this amazing cast together. Starting from Regina King’s introduction to the role, but I want to save that for last. First, the very interesting story came from Jeremy Irons, with is distinguished commanding British accent he admitted to not having read the comic, never very interested in the genre, taking the L from the audience although none of us felt he lost any points at all – he’s Jeremy Irons. But he was taken to a lovely lunch with Lindelof where he talked Irons’s ear off. I imagined if this were a hilarious sketch show like Between Two Ferns it would be a montague of Lindelof talking then fades of Irons’s different face – him squinting, looking off into the distance, drinking tea with is pinky up and nibbling on a biscuit and not truly hearing a word Lindelof has said. In the end Irons’ said he read the script and knew he had to say yes. The rest of the panelists were then salty making sure to point out that they did not get a fancy lunch! This being the running gag for the rest of the panel.


We got some wonderful stories of Yahya stating he never read comics before his career pushed him into this world, and Louis Gossett Jr. speaking about his long history with comics and the original inspiration he felt in Superman and more. Then, Regina, her story made me eeeeek! She tells the story with glee in her voice and a childlike grin on her face. She talks about having received the script for Watchmen directly. Not in the regular channels through an agent or manager but directly to her first. She felt this must be important and had to read.

She said within the first 5 pages she knew she had to be involved, and then noticed a little ways in the script an envelope was stuffed within the pages. She immediately goes to this envelope to see what is inside goes to open it and before she can there is a large written note saying – Regina do not open this until you get to this point in the script. So after being completely sold on the script she finally gets to the envelope and when she opens it, it is an artist rendition of her as the character “Sister Night.” What an invitation no? How can you turn down an opportunity like this when someone has so carefully crafted a vision for you, is so passionate about the work – it is a dream project as an actor. Working with someone who knows and loves the work and has you in mind in the best way – ugh! #actorgoals!!


Needless to say this was the best part of New York Comic Con 2019, hands down. And I am going to be GLUED to my television screen every Sunday for what I hope will be many seasons of Watchmen. Watch this weekend as it premieres Sunday, October 20th.

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  • Aisha Jordan bio: Actor, Writer, Arts Administrator. I am a movie nerd. Born and raised, action and adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoon enthusiast, and aficionado. Raised by a Trekkie mom in a world of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. Foundation in social justice theater and playing in the nerd and entertainment world.

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