Watchmen explained: Who is Doctor Manhattan?

Watchmen is currently airing weekly on HBO and Sky Atlantic in Damon Lindelof’s new adaptation of Alan Moore’s world. The new season features a number of characters from the original comics, including the reintroduction of Dr Manhattan in the latest episode. unpacks some of the biggest things viewers need to know about the character, with some exclusive insight from Watching Watchmen podcast host Joe Brown.

Dr Manhattan has been lingering at the corners of the HBO series so far, referenced but never seen.

However, at the end of episode seven, it was revealed he was actually in the series this whole time.

He was really Angela Abar’s (played by Regina King) husband Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as he had been masquerading in human form.

Ahead of the show focusing an entire episode on the mysterious ageless character, here is everything fans need to know about him.


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1. How he became Dr Manhattan

In the original comic book series, Dr Manhattan was originally known as Jon Osterman, a German-American watchmaker born in 1929.

However, he was involved in a laboratory accident at the Gila Flats research base, which led his physical body to disintegrate.

Then he then reappeared at the facility in a new reconstructed body with a number of powers.

According to Joe Brown from the series companion Watching Watchmen podcast, the character in the comic book series is almost seen as a god.

He said: “As a true super-human, Dr Manhattan has the power to perceive and control matter on subatomic and large scales.

“He perceives all time as fixed and simultaneous. He is unchanging and impervious to harm. Basically, a god.”

2. His romantic past

Fans of the series will know Agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) already has a close connection to Dr Manhattan and now it seems Angela also fell in love with the blue god.

This propensity for forming a number of intense connections with women is actually something which is explored in his character in the origin books.

One of the major relationship examined in these is between Manhattan and the Blake, who was then known as the second Silk Spectre.

The pair were together for almost two decades before Laurie left him, causing him to leave Earth for Mars.

However, he has moved on to another woman as it now seems he has been involved with Angela for the past decade.

Brown explained: “It is a really interesting part of his character. It’s through his relationships that the we can witness his detachment from humanity.”

Could this be explored in the final two episodes of the series?

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3. Why was he supposed to be on Mars?

Manhattan did move to Mars after his relationship with Laurie ended and before he was convinced to come back to save the Earth.

The comic book series ended with him telling Ozymandias how he plans to go to another galaxy to create life.

However, many people think he is still on Mars, as is seen in the new HBO series when Laurie sends him a communication to the planet.

The reveal he is actually still on Earth and inhabiting the body of Cal came at the end of episode seven.


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4. His link to Cal Abar

This is something set to be explored in the rest of the series, if the promo is anything to go by.

While some fans speculated the pair could be connected from the beginning of the series, it was only revealed in latest episode he has been masquerading as Cal.

Brown from the Watching Watchmen podcast spoke about how the most shocking element of the reveal was how he was being hidden and what it could mean in the remaining two episodes.

He said: “When the reveal happened, I was less surprised that it was Cal than by the means that he was hidden and that it was part of some plan between him and Angela.

“It seems as though he made a choice to forgo his powers and forget who he was so that he could live as a human again.

“Perhaps what we are seeing in the show is Dr Manhattan’s reintegration with humanity. I think that nicely contrasts to arc in the comics.”

Just what all this means is expected to be explored in the final two episodes of the show.

Watchmen airs weekly on Sunday evenings on HBO and Monday evenings on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV.

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