Watchmen: Breaking down Adrian Veidt in the premiere episode

Watchmen -- Jeremy Colin Hutton/HBO
Watchmen -- Jeremy Colin Hutton/HBO /

Jeremy Irons plays Adrian Veidt, a well-to-do aristocrat being catered to by servants and possibly one of the most important original members of Watchmen.

HBO’s Watchmen is a brand new world nearly 30 years after the comics that the 2009 film is based on. The original comics were a 12-issue maxiseries that debuted in the ’80s and followed an alternate history in which superheroes were introduced into the world, changing the historical timeline as we know it. As a result, the US wins Vietnam and Nixon’s Watergate scandal is never discovered allowing him to amend the constitution to allow for presidents to run for more than two terms.

The newly premiered Watchmen TV series is different from the original in that it is so far in the future that it has a new set of heroes, and a radical white supremacist group is the Big Bad. So far, what is considered Watchmen cannon has only appeared in easter egg fashion. All except Jeremy Irons’ character Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias.

Veidt, in current times, is an older wealthy aristocrat with a staff of servants that is more than eager to serve. But in the comics, as well as in the movie, Veidt is the antagonist. A former superhero turned businessman, and the smartest man in the world, that intended to stop the Cold War between the US and Russia from turning into a nuclear war. While Veidt wanting to end the war is a good thing, it’s the “by all means necessary” and “at all costs” part that makes him a real villain.

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Ultimately, Veidt’s plan to transport a giant modified squid over New York City would go on to kill three-million innocent people. The world was convinced that it was an alien invasion. The plan worked as the US and Russia dropped their differences and united to defeat a common enemy. To keep his plan a secret, Veidt would also kill everyone who helped engineer the squid and The Comedian, who had figured out the grand scheme. However, the Comedian’s death would kick off an investigation by Rorshach that reveals the plan to the Watchmen.

In the premiere, Veidt’s scene is short but with enough references to the Watchmen comics to leave you wondering. His servants seem eager to appease him but not likely out of fear. After a horse ride, he sits stark naked at the head of the table as he types away on an outdated typewriter. All the while, Veidt’s maid massages his sore thighs. It won’t get any stranger if you read it a second time. Another servant displays formal attire for Veidt to wear, and when he asks what’s the occasion, the staff reminds him in unison that it’s his anniversary.

They never reveal what anniversary they are celebrating, but Veidt gets dressed up to blow the candle on a big cake. Since Veidt doesn’t look like he’s married or mourning, they are likely celebrating the day that Veidt saved the world. It would also account for how happy his staff is to be working for him as they may believe him to be a great man for stopping the war between the US and Russia. Never mind that he killed many people.

Still, whether the wait staff really does know that Veidt is the one that organized the fake alien threat to stop the war is also up for debate. While the Watchmen did find out about Veidt’s alien invasion plan and were unable to stop it unfolding, Veidt was never held accountable.  The reality was that the world could go berserk and charge headfirst into war if they were to find out that the alien squid was a trick. The Watchmen agree to take the secret of the squid to their graves, except for Rorschach. He dies at the hands of Dr. Manhanttan for his refusal to keep quiet.

Watchmen — Sara Vickers, Tom Mison, Jeremy Irons, Photo: Colin Hutton
Watchmen — Sara Vickers, Tom Mison, Jeremy Irons, Photo: Colin Hutton /

Later in the scene, one of the servants gifts Veidt with a pocket watch, and he appears to be very moved. It’s a call back to more than one punny cannon watch reference. Veidt then tells two of the staff members that he’s been writing a play (which is what he was typing on the typewriter) and that he wants them both to be in it. The name of the play is The Watchmaker’s Son.

In all likelihood, The Watchmaker’s Son is Dr. Manhanttan since that’s what he was before the tragic accident that made him into a fluorescent blue being. But why is Veidt is interested in making this play? Is this an innocent pastime as a result of Veidt’s retirement, or does he have bigger, more villainy plans in store?

Curiously, Veidt is also the reason Dr. Manhanttan no longer resides on earth and is on Mars or out in the cosmos. After experiencing backlash from humans for false claims that were orchestrated by Veidt in his efforts to have no opposition to his squid plans, Dr. Manhanttan left earth. Could Veidt intend to lure Dr. Manhattan back? It could be part of something that Veidt is cooking up.

What is Veidt really up to now? A newspaper earlier in the episode claims that Veidt has been confirmed dead, meanwhile he’s living in the lap of luxury in the country. Veidt faking his death could mean he has something new up his sleeve. Unless, of course, he wants to detach himself from his past life since his hand in the invasion may be public knowledge by now through Rorschach’s journal.

What will also come into question in the episodes that follow is where Veidt stands in regards to the white organization terrorizing the Watchmen. Will Veidt lean on the side of justice? Something tells me his current fixation with Dr. Manhanttan may have something to do with how he intends to put his next plan into motion no matter what side he is on.

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Check out Watchmen every Sunday at 9 P.M. ET on HBO