Superjunk: Watchmen Goes Full-Frontal

Gay guys who geek out for superheroes are about to get an eyeful. Watchmen director Zach Snyder puts Dr. Manhattan (a buff, CGI'd Billy Crudup) front and center, buck naked for minutes at a time.

BY Ben Walters

March 06 2009 1:00 AM ET

WATCHMEN OZY X390 (WARNER BROS.) | ADVOCATE.COM

Alan Moore and Dave
Gibbons' 12-part miniseries, published from 1986 to 1987, was a
bravura pastiche of superhero lore, highlighted by the
costumes: Their fetishistic potential was explicitly
acknowledged, there were jokes about how silly they looked on
aging vigilantes, and it was an index of the gulf between
mankind and the series' equivalent of
Superman --

a bright blue, godlike character called Dr. Manhattan -- that,
half the time, he didn't bother with a costume at all. Here he
was, subtext made flesh: the funny books' first balls-out hero.
To paraphrase one of the series' iconic lines, the superman
exists, and he's hung. What gay reader wouldn't pinch
himself?

Zack Snyder's feature
adaptation of
Watchmen

is, in most respects, a devotedly faithful translation of Moore
and Gibbons' series. As such, it often plays as a case study in
the pitfalls of simply grafting a story from one medium to
another. Things that were interesting or shocking in a comic
book context, such as sex scenes, come across as banal or
kitschy by big screen standards. Dr. Manhattan's nudity,
however, is one loyally preserved aspect that totally retains
its frisson: there he is, played by a CGI'd Billy Crudup, buck
naked for minutes at a time, big blue superjunk swinging free.
What gay viewer won't pinch himself?

Of course, it's far
from the first superhero movie with serious mo-appreciation
potential. Joel Schumacher's
Batman Forever

and
Batman & Robin

, although terrible films, could hardly have been more
blatantly gay in their use of nipple-clad, butt-crack-flaunting
costumes and single-entendre banter. The persecution of mutants
in Bryan Singer's
X-Men

movies, meanwhile, could easily be parsed as analogous to
homophobic (or indeed other kinds of) bigotry. Schumacher and
Singer are both out gay men; Snyder might be a married father
of six, but his appreciation for the heroically nude male form
was amply illustrated in his last picture,
300

(not to mention
widely spoofed). In fact, he seems to like a hot bod, even at the expense of
the story: in Moore and Gibbons' comic, the Batman-like Nite
Owl has some serious middle-age spread going on, but the
character played by Patrick Wilson in the movie seems to find
time to hit the gym, even if he can't always get it up.

Tags: film

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