This new animated Watchmen movie trailer looks like the film the live-action version should have been

Watchmen Chapter 1
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen is widely regarded as a classic and one of the best graphic novels of all time – Zack Snyder's 2009 live-action adaptation? Not so much. It's one of the few movies I've walked out of. As a fan of the original source material, it felt like watching a bad tribute band murder my favorite songs. 

So I'm both excited and delighted by the first trailer of Watchmen: Chapter 1, Warner Bros.' new animated adaptation. It looks like the movie the live-action version should have been, so it's fair to say that it has the potential to be one of the best superhero movies

Like the original, this is not for kids: it's a dark, dystopian R-rated nightmare. Set in an alternate-history 1980s USA, Watchmen follows a group of outlawed superheroes who are forced out of mandatory retirement by the murder of one of their own. As we soon discover, these superheroes are not so super – and not so heroic either.

Watchmen Chapter 1 | Redband Trailer 4K | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube Watchmen Chapter 1 | Redband Trailer 4K | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube
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Why Watchmen is worth watching

The idea of a dark, morally conflicted superhero story might not sound so shocking now, but in the 1980s, the comic book series Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – which came out at the same time – transformed the genre. And Watchmen isn't just a complex story well told, it's visually stunning too. 

The makers of Watchmen: Chapter 1 have clearly strived to preserve that visual inventiveness, and the scenes with Dr Manhattan in particular work so much better as animation than they did in the movie.

It sounds pretty great too, and the adaptation features a stellar voice cast. As IGN reports, the voices include:

  • Matthew Rhys as Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl)
  • Katee Sackhoff as Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre)
  • Titus Welliver as Rorschach (Walter Kovacs)
  • Troy Baker as Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias)
  • Adrienne Barbeau as Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre)
  • Corey Burton as Captain Metropolis
  • Michael Cerveris  as Jonathan Osterman (Dr. Manhattan)
  • Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Jacobi (Moloch)
  • Grey DeLisle
  • Kelly Hu
  • John Marshall Jones as Hooded Justice
  • Max Koch
  • Phil LaMarr
  • Yuri Lowenthal  as Wally Weaver
  • Geoff Pierson as Hollis Mason (Nite Owl)
  • Dwight Schultz
  • Jason Spisak
  • Kari Wahlgren as Janey Slater
  • Rick D. Wasserman as Edward Blake (The Comedian)

They had me at "Harry Bosch is Rorschach".

I'm excited about this, but I'll have to wait to watch the whole thing: it won't be released until August 13. But that doesn't mean you can't get a Watchmen fix in the meantime. If you're in the US, HBO's superb Watchmen TV show – which was inspired by the graphic novel but told a very different but equally shocking story – is streaming now on Max. Those in the UK, can catch it on Sky or Now, while those in Australia, can stream it on Foxtel Now and Stan. 

Watchmen: Chapter 1 will be released digitally on 13 August, and on 4K UHD and Blu-Ray on 27 August. Watchmen: Chapter 2 will follow later this year.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.