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The Watchmen and Consequentialist Christianity

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I enjoyed the HBO series Watchmen and the earlier film based on the same comic book (which I have not read; my nerdery goes only so far.)

But one of the elements of the film that was of the most interest to me was changed — or, rather, un-changed, restoring an element of the comic-book story that was changed for the film.

In the film, the hero-villain Ozymandias executes a plan to save humanity from nuclear annihilation (the story takes place during the Cold War) by giving the Americans and the Soviets a new common enemy in the form of an alien invasion: a gigantic, squid-like monster is dropped onto Manhattan, killing half of the city’s population and terrorizing the Cold War combatants into cooperation. In the film, the apocalyptic event that unites the world is, in my view, more intelligently chosen: The godlike superhero Dr. Manhattan has grown increasingly indifferent to earth and its inhabitants, and Ozymandias destroys several major world cities in such a way as to make people believe that Dr. Manhattan had committed the atrocity — a nuclear assault, in effect — as an act of divine judgment on the human race for its blood lust. The fraudulent new peace (“But peace, nonetheless,” as Ozymandias insists) is kept by the superstitious belief that Dr. Manhattan remains up there in the heavens, watching over us, ready to smite us if we return to our sinful ways. The gigantic alien squid is bizarre and without context, whereas the divine judge looking down on us, ready to strike, is a familiar part of our moral culture, most prominently in the consequentialist view of........

© National Review