This contains NO spoilers for Watchmen!
After covering Watchmen so
heavily for so long, it gets easy to forget that not everybody knows
the original comic inside and out the way I do. Or the way that many of
the readers of this site do. While there are probably a whole bunch of
people reading CHUD today who own an edition of Watchmen, there are probably a bunch more who have just a passing acquaintance with the comic, the world and the characters.
must be pretty annoying being one of those people, since so much of the
coverage of the movie has been steeped in spoilers from the get go. But
Warner Bros knows that there are a lot more people who have no clue who
that big glowing naked blue guy is or why he’s forty feet tall in one
scene in the trailer.
For those folks there’s a new page up at
NBC.com, featuring quick character featurettes for the uninitiated. The latest one is Ozymandias. Here’s the
character lowdown they give:
Adrian Veidt, acclaimed as “The World’s Smartest Man,” was inspired by the life of Alexander the Great to take on the costumed identity of Ozymandias. Having trained his body to athletic perfection, he operated for only a few years before retiring, revealing his secret identity publicly, and building a financial empire based around his past as a costumed hero. Determined to do true good in the world, he is one of the few vigilantes apparently free from psychological scars from his years fighting crime.
Watch the video here (click on Ozymandias when the page loads)
Ozymandias doesn’t get a full-blown origin sequence in the film, and he only really appears in one brief flashback. Still, he does give a little monologue discussing elements of his background – the rich kid who gave it all away to start anew, to remake himself as the best human being, mentally and physically, that he could be. And how it all came from Alexander the Great, the man who conquered the entire known world and united it in peace before he died in his early thirties.
Ozymandias is based on the Charlton character of Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. Growing up in a Tibetan lamasary, white boy Cannon learned to maximize his own human potential. He used parts of his brain that we consider stuffing, and he honed his body to peak perfection. When he had learned all of this, the monks had one last test for him: could he figure out how to live in the modern world?
Cannon didn’t want to be a superhero, but he kept finding himself in situations where his help was needed. And he didn’t wear a costume: his ridiculous red and black jester togs were actually the latest in Tibetan monk training wear. In true cryptoracist 60s style, Cannon had a sidekick, his lifelong Tibetan buddy Tabu. And he had a nemesis who came from the same monastery, the mysterious and pissed off Hooded One, whose face had been horribly disfigured years before. Shades, of course, of Doctor Doom.
Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt was created by Pete Morisi, a prolific comic writer who joined the New York Police Department in the late 50s. He kept moonlighting as a comic writer as long as he could, using the pen name PAM, but eventually had to step away. When the Charlton characters were sold to DC Peter Cannon more or less went into mothballs; he appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths and had a 12 issue maxi-series, but eventually went away. The rights to Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt reverted to the Morisi estate a few years ago, so it’s likely the character is gone forever.