HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ In-story Documentary Follows Hooded Justice

The plot of HBO’s Watchmen remains a mystery, but the latest set photo confirms the series will take major inspiration from the comic, by way of the story within the story. The latest look at Damon Lindelof’s big-budget show teases what appears to be an in-story docuseries called American Hero Story: Minutemen. The advertisement on the side of a bus includes an image of Hooded Justice.

Hooded Justice was the first-ever masked vigilante in the Watchmen universe. His identity was never revealed, but his actions inspired the early costumed heroes. He was a member of the original Minutemen team, the first “hero” group in the Watchmen universe. In addition to Hooded Justice, the squad included Captain Metropolis, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Silhouette, Dollar Bill, Mothman and The Comedian. As the government began to question the role of masked crusaders, forcing them to reveal their true identities, Hooded Justice vanished. Consider his fate one of Watchmen’s many remaining mysteries.

watchmen hooded justcie death comedian Ozymandias believed The Comedian killed Hooded Justice, but he never proved it. Hollis Mason believed Hooded Justice's identity to be a circus entertainer named Rolf Müller, who was later found dead in 1956, a year after Hooded Justice disappeared. Rumor has it Muller was executed by Communists, but again, Hooded Justice's true identity was never proved. DC

The very existence of this documentary seems to indicate heroes are seen in a positive light, or at least still in the public eye, within Lindelof’s Watchmen universe. Though it’s worth remembering that Hooded Justice’s presumed “death,” and the Minutemen’s disbandment, took place before the second generation of masked crimefighters came together for the central events of Watchmen in 1985. It’s hard to say how the timeline of Lindelof’s adaptation will interpret the universe’s first, extremely brutal, masked vigilante.

This new story within a story could be compared to Under the Hood, the autobiography of Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl) that appeared in the first three chapters of Watchmen. Since The Comedian was never actually alive in the present events of Watchmen, Under the Hood was one of the few ways readers learned about his life. Another example is Tales of the Black Freighter, a comic book within the universe that told a seemingly unrelated story that actually epitomized the core questions presented in the series. This storytelling technique aligns with Lindelof’s vision for the series, which he expressed in a heartfelt letter when HBO announced the show back in May.

Watchmen 3-1-600x536 tales of black freighter bernie Bernie spends "Watchmen" reading "Marooned," part of the "Tales of the Black Freighter" comic series. DC

“Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor created nor reproduced nor rebooted. They will, however, be remixed," Lindelof continued. "Because the bass lines in those familiar tracks are just too good and we’d be fools not to sample them. Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament. When the New Testament came along it did not erase what came before it. Creation. The Garden of Eden. Abraham and Isaac. The Flood. It all happened. And so it will be with Watchmen.”

For more on what we know about Watchmen, check out our interpretation of the only official teaser so far. HBO has not announced a release date. Watchmen and its characters was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics from 1986-87.

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