Watchmen: Ozymandias’ Plan B

By Shamus
on Apr 2, 2009
Filed under:
Nerd Culture

What if Ozymandias found an alternate way to stop the coming USA / USSR war? He could prevent the nuclear exchange, but unlike his original plan where millions died and he got to rule the world, only he would die, and nobody would know about his sacrifice. He wouldn’t have to form a huge conspiracy, or kill millions of people, or kill off some of his old crime-fighting associates, but he would die alone and be forgotten by history.

[poll id=”2″]

(Yes, internet polls are a bit childish and unscientific. But they’re fun. I’m just curious how people view the guy. Also I found this new poll plugin for WordPress and wanted to try it out.)

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  1. Danakir says:

    That’s interesting, but it all boils down to the infamous trope ‘What You Are In The Dark’. It’s a very personal question since we can’t ever find out for sure.

    I really don’t think he’d do it though, he’s too enamored with his original plan to do so.

  2. Gary says:

    It is easy to sacrifice others, or make others sacrifice something.

    It is much harder to force yourself to make a sacrifice of any kind, especially if that sacrifice is your life.

  3. Urggzob says:

    I voted no. I just think the guy is far too deep into his own messiah complex to put himself in harms way.

  4. Marmot says:

    What makes him interesting (and boring, depending on the point of view) is his light touch of egomania — I don’t think that would ever fit into sacrificing himself. Correction, sacrificing himself without anyone remembering it. It is the publicity part that is important here.

  5. BarGamer says:

    I ditto Urgg. Nobody builds a freaking statue and temple proclaiming their godhood without having some SERIOUS ego problems.

  6. Nentuaby says:

    I, too, think that Ozymandias as presented on the pages of the graphic novel would be able to sacrifice himself if he knew it would be remembered… But never in the dark.

  7. Rutskarn says:

    I didn’t take part in the whole clustertalk last post, largely because when I came in there were already 25 or so comments, but let me share an interesting commentary on Ozymandias:

    He’s so obsessed with the idea of being like Alexander the Great, in finding the “gordian knot” solution, that he never considered any sort of conventional solution.

    He’s in this for glory. That’s the sum total of his motivation.

  8. Dev Null says:

    Given that we’re talking about a fictional character here, who will obviously do anything we write him to do…

    No, I don’t think he would. But more importantly, I don’t think any plan that involved him sacrificing himself silently in the background would ever occur to him in the first place, so he’d never have to make the choice.

  9. Eric Rossing says:

    I don’t think he would. Your previous Ozy post got me thinking about how a lot of the holes got filled in if the real plan was “Save the world from nuclear war and leave me on top.” Considering this, I don’t think he’d switch to a plan that leaves him dead and unremembered (kinda like his namesake).

  10. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Wow, a lot of “No”‘s here, huh?

    Well I find myself in the No camp because that’s how I see the character, I’ll go out on a limb here and say, “Yes, he would.”

    …Okay, so I can’t justify that, but I would like to think that there’s somebody around here who could give an arguement for “Yes”.

  11. Vladius says:

    He represents the ultimate in leftist egotism, so no.

  12. Allen says:

    Yeah, Ozy doesn’t seem the kind of guy who’d sacrifice himself, for any sort of cause. If you can’t come out on top, why go in in the first place?

  13. Groboclown says:

    I’m going to call foul on this one, Shamus. It’s just another ploy to try to milk hundreds of comments from geeks. Egads. I just fell for it, too.

  14. Trianglehead says:

    I also think since part of the endgame of this plan was his conquering most of the world like Alexander the Great, that no. He wanted to steer the direction humanity took after this crisis, so by his criteria I don’t believe there is any way a self-sacrifice could meet his goals.

  15. Mari says:

    I’m in the “no” camp. I give it about a 15% chance that he would sacrifice himself if he had the chance and knew that he would be remembered for his great and noble sacrifice. That drops to zilch if he dies unremembered in my estimation. Mostly he’s about the power but he has enough ego that I had to consider the possibility that he’d do it for the posthumous accolades.

    The “yes” voters baffle me. I find myself wondering if we read the same book and what they saw that I didn’t or vice versa. I’d really like to hear from some of them.

  16. I’m with Marmot. He might sacrifice himself if it meant everyone would remember him as the Great Savior, but not if nobody would know. Just him knowing (and being in control), OK. Everyone else knowing, OK. Neither him (’cause he’s dead) nor everyone else knowing? No way.
    Mind you, I don’t think he could ever arrive at the place to make that decision as such. What he’d do is find various rationalizations that convinced him the “self-sacrifice” plan could never work, not least because once he was dead his wise hand would not be available at the tiller to make sure things did work.

    Vladius: Leftist? Ozymandias is no leftist. It might be argued that he’s a member of that peculiar species Americans call “liberals”, but American “liberals” are not leftists. Really, though, he’s a monarchist. He doesn’t care about modern “isms”, he believes in Egyptian god-kings.

  17. Henebry says:

    I’d vote “no”, but I think your question misses the point. With Veidt (a.k.a. Ozymandias) Alan Moore was interested in taking the superhero back to its origin in the Nietzschean übermench. Veidt thinks he is the superman in THAT sense of the word, not a guy who can do anything because he has superpowers, but a guy who can do anything because he’s willing to do anything, even terrible things.

    Obviously, such a man would not sacrifice himself to save the world. The world needs him (or so he thinks). But before you condemn him, think of the deeper issues at play. Remember that the übermench is beyond morality, in Nietzche’s account. Self-sacrifice to save the world — that’s the christlike response. And our instinctive valorization of that response as the only good one is what marks our culture as participating in “slave morality.” Nietzsche hoped to reinvigorate culture by returning to a Hellenic (Greek) conception of the Good.

    Moore challenges his readers’ preconceptions by giving us an avatar of Superman, Dr. Manhattan, whose omniscience makes him impotent AND an avatar of Batman, Rorschach, whose thirst for vengeance makes him small-minded. The only other option is Owlman, whose vision turns out to be wholly middle-class.

    I’m not a fan of Nietzsche, but I admire Moore for challenging my instinctive Christian response, for making me rethink the nature of good and evil in The Watchmen.

  18. Vladius says:

    Yes, leftist egotism. He thinks that he can form an ideal from killing millions of people, and that utopia is possible one step at a time. But if you look at the way he thinks and acts, particularly after he thinks he’s succeeded, you see that he did it for himself. He thinks that he’s Alexander the Great. At every turn, he has some kind of pretentiousness that lets him think that he can garnish the “currents of society” just by watching a bunch of TVs. Some of it is warranted, some of it isn’t.
    See also how he kills his co-conspirators. He doesn’t care about them taking any kind of credit, secretly or not.

    “I DID IT!”

  19. Fenix says:

    ***Spoiler***

    You got that straight from code geass didn’t you!!! If you didn’t… ummm… watch code geass but forget everything I just said. Great anime.

    ***end spoiler***

  20. Quanity says:

    Well, some of you think he wouldn’t do it mainly because no one would know about it. Granted, he has an ego the size of his skyscraper, so it sure would hurt him if nobody knew about his ingenious suicide masterplan.
    But in his original plan, nobody DOES know either, except two former masked heroes with deep psychological problems and a god floating somewhere in space. That’s not really publicity, is it?
    So I vote Yes, simply because I believe he truly values the surviving of mankind more than his ego.
    But if he had the choice between these two plans, I fully believe he would still sacrifice millions. He’s still an asshole :)

  21. Factoid says:

    For all of his “lateral thinking” I don’t believe it would occur to him to develop a plan that involved the loss of his own life. He believes his abilities are necessary and thus would find it necessary to continue living as long as possible to give the world the benefit of his presence.

  22. Noah Gibbs says:

    If you were to do this again, I’d add a question about whether you saw the movie, read the graphic novel, or both. Because the answer may be different for the two Ozymandiases.

  23. Henebry, that’s a very interesting reading. And maybe Moore had that in mind. But I find the notion that self-sacrifice is a concept that originates with Christ and would have been foreign to ancient Greek conceptions of the Good bizarre, very much rearranged around modern religious notions. Maybe Nietzsche believed it, but it’s clearly wrong. Look at the death of Socrates–he allowed himself to be unjustly killed for the sake of the primacy of the rule of law. The Greeks were all for the idea that sacrificing yourself for the sake of the Polis was a good thing.
    Perhaps the even older Greek types, the heroes of the Iliad, didn’t believe in self-sacrifice. But they were jerks anyway. Achilles–what a spoiled brat. Me, me, me, whine whine whine. Maybe that’s what a Nietzschean superman is supposed to be like. But even he sacrificed himself in the end, for love of Patroklos. It was a bit indirect, but he knew if he nailed Hector he would die soon after, and he did it anyway.

  24. Target says:

    I was tempted to vote ‘yes’ for the movie and ‘no’ for the novel.

    I saw the movie first (I know, I lose geek cred), and the character comes off as more humanitarian-greater good, in my opinion.

    Reading the novel brought into greater focus the aspects of his character that idolized Alexander and ruling the world.

    Consequently I abstained.

  25. Vladius, I really don’t see what makes that a characteristic of leftism in particular. You just described Veidt and claimed again that that represents “leftist egotism”; that isn’t an argument. The description sounds an awful lot like Nazism or Fascism to me. Or contemporary Republicanism–what was the Iraq war ostensibly about but the idea that you could form an ideal by killing millions of people?
    Certainly there have been megalomaniacs who rose to power in theoretically leftist governments; the classic example always trotted out is Stalin. But it’s hardly a characteristic that defines the left any more than, or even as much as, the right. The right tends to have *theory* that supports the idea that Supreme Leaders (or, say, Commanders in Chief of Unitary Executives) ought to be in charge. The left at least theoretically considers that a bad thing.

  26. Lizard says:

    In response to Henebry:

    Actually the idea that Nietzsche wanted to return to Hellenistic Greek morality is one of the most common misreadings of his Genealogy of Morals. And, in my opinion, the reason why so many people dislike Nietzsche. If you re-read his section on Slave Morality, you will notice several passages where he refers to Slave Morality as what made man interesting, what turned his “will” against himself, and made him into something more than just the “blond beast” (lion, not creepy Nazi translation of blond human being) by making him focus on his purpose and meaning of being.

    Nietzsche then goes on to point out that this questioning of ourselves through asceticism and slave morality can only reach one logical end, Nihilism, where we question even the beliefs that cause us to question. And this is what Nietzsche wants to avoid, nothingness, a complete absence of the will that makes us strive for, well, anything.

    What Nietzsche wants us to do is not return to “Master Morality” but rather to overcome “Slave Morality” while keeping some of the more admirable traits that we have learned from it (namely, introspection). Through this we reach something closer to his concept of a perfect man, neither a beast (Master Morality) or without will to anything (Slave Morality).

    …I apologize for any failures in clarity, I just woke up and my brain isn’t fully on yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to clarify in the future.

    EDIT: Also, Henebry, I had never thought of Veidt in terms of Nietzschean philosophy before and I find it interesting to say the least.

  27. Derek K. says:

    I agree that Veidt wouldn’t seriously consider a plan that involved his death, regardless of someone knowing or not. He’s too egotistical in both the “I’m the best there is” and the “if I were not here to run this, it would certainly fail.”

    However, he did put himself at risk for the plan – he says that he could have been shot and would have to catch the bullet, but he’s not sure it would work.

  28. Ed says:

    As the worlds smartest man, he would surely “think” a way out of putting himself in that position. He statement at the end of the book where he “feels” the deaths he has caused demonstrates that he thinks he has sacrificed enough.

  29. Sydney says:

    No, he’s a megalomaniac. Megalomaniacs always rationalize things out:

    “What if there’s ANOTHER crisis that only I can solve? I won’t be around to save the world again if I die here today.”

  30. Huh. Thanks, Lizard.
    So in a sense you could claim that Nietzsche was trying to come up with something to put up in place of a morality ordained from on high and accepted, AKA Christian morality, in the absence of a belief in God. Kinda like the Existentialists.
    I think his answer kind of sucked (and the Existentialists’ too), but if your account is right it was an attempt to build up something new, not to tear something down as people often perceive. Changes my opinion of the guy some.

  31. MadTinkerer says:

    It all comes down to Ozy’s true motivation: if Ozy really was the smartest man in the world, he probably really believed he didn’t have a choice in the matter. If even “God” isn’t as smart as him, and he can’t see an alternative way to save the world, then by definition killing millions is the only possible course of action.

    That’s the whole point of everything Ozy does. He’s motivated by the ego of an average person who wants to do as much good for the people around him that he can, but stuck with the options of the World’s Smartest Man: he can only move in the one direction his intelligence has determined is the “correct” path.

    If he had a choice (but I think the comic makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t see it that way), I think he would sacrifice himself if only because of the numbers game. He wouldn’t die, he’d just fake his death and give up fame and fortune to watch from the shadows.

    Now there’s a third possibility: would he genuinely give up his life if it meant everlasting fame as the World’s Best Superhero Ever, thus one-upping his namesake (the original Ozymandias from the poem who was forgotten by the world)? I think he definitely would, because that would be too good an opportunity to pass up.

  32. OddlucK says:

    I’m in the Yes camp (we’re having a membership drive this weekend). Ozy’s an ass, sure, but he always struck me as the “misguided knight templar,” more than the “priggish megalomaniac.”

    That said, I will agree he’s so blinded by his grandiosity that a plan involving his quiet, singular death would never occur to him. (Surely there were simpler plans than staging a “space-squid” invasion.)

    But, what do I know? I’m just a geek with a keyboard, and a mouse, and a watch, and I think there’s a phone here too, and also a calculator over there.

    –OddlucK

  33. DaveMc says:

    @Vladius: “He represents the ultimate in leftist egotism, so no.”

    Aw, now why you gotta do that? We’re having a perfectly nice discussion of comic books and philosophy, here. There’s no need to drag contemporary politics into it. (I’m with Purple Library Guy, though: nothing you’ve said points to him being “leftist”, you just keep using the word. If you insist on debating this point, I’m hereby predicting that PLG will kick your ass from here to the ends of the Internet.)

    Edit: Sorry, this came out far too belligerent. I get cranky sometimes.

    • Shamus says:

      In the left vs. right thing: Ozy is very much an exaggeration of how American liberal politicians appear to American conservatives: Idealistic (in believing that almost any problem can be solved with the right program), arrogant (in believing that he’s wise enough to make personal decisions for millions of people), calculating (because he’s willing to force some to make sacrifices for the “greater good”), and dangerous (because he believes he has the moral authority to do so.)

      I’m not saying that’s fair or right or just, or that the same list couldn’t apply to conservatives. (Or anyone else who has the audacity to run for public office.) I really don’t want to sour the thread with American politics. The last one went so well, I’d hate for us to fail at this one. I just wanted to point out that this is (probably) where the “Ozy as a leftist” line of thought is originating.

  34. Bryan says:

    Of course he would sacrifice himself, if it was necessary. However, he would not do it if his alternate plan wouldn’t have to form some sort of huge conspiracy, the plan in which his quiet, forgotten death would save the world would be every bit as complex, as was previously mentioned, because he is only looking for the splitting the gordian knot type solution. I think his attempts to feel every death are significant in this discussion.

  35. Mark says:

    Ozy struck me as enough of an egotist to believe that the world could not be saved without him there to save it. He wouldn’t come up with a plan to save the world that required his own death, because, in his mind, that wouldn’t be saving the world at all.

    His motives were pure, but it takes some serious chutzpah to tackle a problem on the level that he tried to. The core of his belief structure was that the world wouldn’t save itself, and he didn’t have anybody that he trusted enough to leave the task of saving it. As “society’s only protection” he couldn’t just throw himself away; what if the success he bought with his life came unraveled?

  36. Henebry says:

    Wow, great discussion. And thanks, Lizard, for giving me a clearer sense of why so many liberal western philosophers were able to remain fans of Nietzsche after Nazi Germany.

    Regarding Moore and Nietzsche, three of his early extended superhero series all in one way or another revolve around the übermench as a transformative force, helping to usher in a new world which is (in one sense or another) “beyond good and evil.” I’m thinking here of Miracleman (originally Marvelman), V for Vendetta, and The Watchmen.

    Notably, they each offer a different version of the übermench. V actually does sacrifice himself to save the world. He always struck me as a realization of the Nietzschean adage that “what does not kill me makes me stronger.” And, notably, V willfully subjects his beloved to the same torture which he had experienced. That is the act which sets him beyond conventional notions of good and evil, and the act which made many fans question themselves for admiring him.

    Another, more recent series by Moore features a transformative figure, but this time a woman: Promethea, the goddess of creative imagination and ruler of storyland. She brings her world (and her readers) beyond good and evil by revealing that good and evil are merely terms in stories BUT at the same time insisting that stories are more real than the “reality” we live in. Definitely required reading.

  37. NeilD says:

    Quanity: That crossed my mind as well, but there are two reasonable suppositions that counter-act that.

    First is something that I don’t think was addressed in the novel: what was the next step in Ozymandias’ plan? He created the common enemy, the catalyst for the countries on the earth to come together, but that enemy doesn’t actually exist. I’m pretty sure Veidt and his mega-corporations were going to be in the forefront of the “defenses”, and maintaining the fiction of the extra-dimensional invaders for as long as possible. One way or another, he was going to be remembered as the man who led humanity to salvation.

    The other thing is that he would have to know that eventually the truth would have to come out, and the world would realize that there never was an actual invasion. I think that he, whether consciously or subconsciously, hoped/believed that by that time the world would have achieved Utopia and would be enlightened enough to see the rightness of what he did. It might be decades or centuries after his death, but again, he would be remembered as humanity’s savior.

  38. He is amazingly smart. But in that sense, he’s a stand-in for a whole lot of technocrats who have messed stuff up big time.
    The Comedian may be the image of the nasty brutality of Vietnam on the ground. But it was people like Kennedy’s “The best and the brightest” who got the country into that war, and who became such captives of their own logic (and egos) that they refused to see any alternative courses of action.
    More recently, for years and years we’ve been provided with the big financial wheels as geniuses, the “smartest guys in the room”. They were the wondermen whose Leadership(tm) would bring us all to the promised land of ever-higher stock and real estate valuations for ever and ever, amen. Yeah, that worked out great. Experts may be very smart, but the world is more complicated than what they see; the maps they look at are never the territory, and the way they abstract the territory for what they consider the key information reflects their interests, preconceptions and biases.

    Wandering off topic.
    Oddly, although I’m very left wing and the Comedian is portrayed as right wing, I find him more sympathetic than a lot of the posters here seem to. I don’t think any of his features actually *redeem* him, but he’s actually one of the more complex characters, underneath. If anything he’s the reverse of some of the others. Nite Owl seems like he ought to be a rounded character because he’s an ordinary guy, but when you think about it you don’t really see much about him. Rorschach seems fleshed out because you get all this psychological traumatic upbringing stuff, but ultimately that just tells you why his character is so stunted. These characters seem complex but are really quite flat. The Comedian seems like a simple, brutal, foulmouthed egotist but there’s more there when you look at him. If he’s so simple, how is it that he’s the one who saw the real problem before the Smartest Man In The World did? He’s actually a very perceptive person–too perceptive. He can’t handle what he sees. He sees the world as crazy and meaningless, and channels despair into a caring-about-nothing brutality and gallows humour. But it’s not complete; he has a human side, with his daughter, with his fear of what will happen when Dr. Manhattan loses it. Notably, while Ozymandias contemplates his mass murder fairly coolly, even the Comedian was appalled when he found out. Edward Blake is harder to pin down, has more complexity to him, than most of the others in Watchmen.

  39. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Lol @ the people saying that Adrian is the ultimate egotistic, about how he would NEVER accept to die without anybody knowing about it.

    Nobody actually knows about him “saving” the world right now. He is clearly unsure of having done the right choice at the end of Watchmen, and he genuinely regrets having those actions, but he also believes these actions were required to save the whole.

    If he things the world would have been better off (with a higher chance of survival) with his sacrifice, even a silent sacrifice, he probably would have done it. He has a Messiah complex, up to a point, but he also believes strongly into his own cause. I think he would be ready to sacrifice everything he has, even his life and popularity, if it means savegarding humanity.

    I really don’t get the bad opinion people have about Ozy. “He’s a corporate elitist sellout”. What, because he succeeded and is proud of himself, he becomes the greatest egotist person on the planet? Because he is willing to be proactive about the planetary problems and not merely be victim to the problems ahead, he’s arrogant?

    I find him courageous to actually try to tackle those kind of problems without drawing publicity on that very fact.

  40. Dys says:

    I’d really, REALLY like to say yes. I quite like Ozy in a strange way, would be nice to think he was capable of such sacrifice.

    But I really don’t think so.

    It does seem to me that such a question is kind of outside the realm of possibility though. The whole plan is more or less the focus of the book, without it Watchmen as is wouldn’t exist.

    I have to go reread it now.

  41. mneme says:

    Yeah, I think he totally would.

    Adrian is mad, yes, a very specific madness. But he doesn’t -need- adoration, although he accepts it as his “due”; he’s willing to “save” the world alone in the dark — and in a way that sacrifices his old friends, and even his beloved companion (ie, the panther). He believes his plan is the only way (and doing so leads him into evil), but in the same way he is willing to compromise his ethics to fulfil his plan, he’d certainly be willing to compromise his fame.

    Whether the plan would ever occur to him is, of course, another thing.

  42. mneme says:

    PLG: One reason you get a lot about the Commedian? Despite being dead at the time the book starts, he is, no ifs, ands or buts, the focal character of the book (more than Adrian; Adrian is the -villain- of the book, and thus we only see him in glimpses so we don’t figure out too much, too fast, though we get more in the Black Freighter, of course). The story is about his life, in all its complexities, so despite Rorschack being the hero of the book (and Dan the viewpoint character; breaking up the book that way is actually pretty interesting), he’s the one we get to see as a complex entity.

  43. Vladius says:

    Okay, sorry, sorry. I’m so sorry for introducing politics to something… political.
    What I want to know is where Nietzche came in. I think you guys are reading way too deep into this thing. (This is why some people don’t like The Dark Knight. It’s either a comic book film or it’s a serious piece of cinema with minimal plot holes. It can’t be both.)

    My point is that Adrian believes in a utopia, much like in communism. Once his plan is revealed, he is opposed mainly by Rorschach, the extreme right-wing character.
    This is where Alan Moore steps in and says that you need to compromise your values, kill people who don’t agree with you, and do it in the name of altruism. (Stalin much?) He believes, projecting his feelings through his author’s advocates Manhattan and Veidt, that the Soviet Union would be willing to stand down and assist the rest of the world in the case of an… ahem, alien invasion.
    This assumes that they think the same way we do, and that everybody is alike and deserves to be equal in every respect, even in war. In my mind that is an impossible and leftist goal, and, surprise surprise, I am a Conservative.
    It doesn’t ever say what he planned for after the total pwnage of New York, but I suspect it’s probably how Alan Moore sees a perfect, or at least less dangerous world. (Please note that he looks like Rasputin, is a total anarchist hippie, made pornography of some of our culture’s most innocently innocuous characters, and worships a Roman snake god. The movie is also doing poorly, of course, because he placed a curse on it.)
    There, my rant is done. Criticize me, and I will respond.

  44. DocTwisted says:

    Ozy would never go in for a “noble sacrifice” play, because he’s drunk his own Kool-aid. He takes the title “smartest man in the world” as Serious Business, and would NEVER be willing to deprive the world of his genius. In the comic and the movie, he’s got that statue of himself in his Antarctic base with the plinth reading “Look upon my works, ye mighty and despair…” An older than dirt variation of “Haha I PWN ALLA YOUZZZ!!!!!!!11!!!”

    He’ll sacrifice everyone around himself gladly, because they *aren’t* as valuable in the future (in his view). The only non-expendable character in his worldview is himself.

  45. MOM says:

    I had to vote to see the results. So I voted.

  46. theonlymegumegu says:

    I think Ozymadias is characterized as too much of a control freak to not want to stick around after the plan succeeds.

  47. Auraseer says:

    Those who think he’s not an egotist, like SolkaTruesilver, I think you are missing something.

    Note that near the end of the story, there’s a point where (as far as he knows) he has the heroes totally in his power. He was prepared enough to kill off Dr. Manhattan. He fought the others to a standstill. If he wanted them dead, it would have been trivial to have other traps prepared in and around the fortress– or just to have a machine gun within reach when they showed up.

    I think it’s clear that Ozymandias wanted the heroes to hear his story. He let them in because he needed someone else to know what he did. It wasn’t enough that he would save the world and then control it; he needed to explain how he did it, and have others acknowledge that it was the right thing.

    If he were not ego-driven, he wouldn’t have bothered. He’d have shot the heroes down as they trudged through the snow.

    Remember, this is the smartest, richest, most physically adept man in the world, and he knew they were coming. Going after him was like trying to attack Batman, in the Batcave, after phoning him up and making an appointment. The only reason they even got close is that he allowed it.

    (Of course he did make one big mistake. He failed to realize that Manhattan would be able to reassemble himself. Up to that point, though, everything was going just as he planned.)

    If the only way to save the world had been for him to die and be forgotten, I don’t think he could have made himself go through with it.

  48. Lenneth says:

    I think he’d be afraid that things could go wrong again and he wouldn’t be arond to help out this time – he does seem to view people as, not necessarily stupid or bad, but a pesky bunch prone to getting into trouble if not looked after by the likes of him.

    That, and he wants to be remembered, to at least leave something of himself that people will remember and celebrate – even if it is, as per the statue fragments in the poem that likely inspired his name, forgotten by the masses long into the future.

  49. Martin says:

    I’d like to say I’m not sure I could do that.

  50. guy says:

    @auraseer

    I’m pretty sure he was far from certain he could actually kill Doctor Manhattan, given that he actually says he wasn’t sure that would work after he tries killing him

    I voted “yes” because of that bit at the end where he talks to Doctor Manhattan, and his reaction to being told his plan didn’t earn permanent peace.

  51. Jack V. says:

    I confess I’ve not read all the comments, but couldn’t resist adding mine anyway. I’ll vote for motivated-by-ego. Movie-Ozzie would be likely to sacrifice his life, provided it made him a hero. He’d only be willing to do so anonymously provided he was convinced to see himself that way, and I don’t think he would. I think that also applies to book-Ozzie, but I know him less well.

  52. Michelle says:

    Dudes and gals – Ozy was not a good man.

  53. equinox216 says:

    I voted yes.

    I’d have to get my copy of Watchmen back to fully cite my sources, but I’m going with Oz being fully cognizant of the nature of empires, especially with his chosen hero name and his grasp of history. He wasn’t out for the existing nations, or some establishment of a new Veidt order. He was in it simply for the species.

    As for the ‘he could’ve killed all the opposition whenever he wanted but he needed someone to |tell/rationalize| his plans to’, I don’t buy it. He didn’t HAVE to stop the other heroes from doing ANYTHING once they were there; he just had to drag them to the middle of nowhere so they didn’t have even the slightest chance of disrupting things. He ran the timejamming equipment to counter Manhattan with the same goal in mind. And remember, he’d just killed off his most trusted servitors in an exercise of good old-fashioned pirate ‘three can keep a secret if two are dead’ logic.

    Once the squidbomb went off, THEN he needed to either kill them off or convince these other heroes, the only people in the world he’d ever come close to resembling ‘sharing a goal with’ or ‘being friends with’, that the good of mankind was better served by letting his fait accompli stand as intended. The potential benefit of just going ahead and knocking Manhattan off, taking his giant X-factor out of future consideration, meant Ozy might as well make the play if he felt it was likely that the good Doctor wouldn’t just atomize him without giving Oz a chance to convert him. The attempt to kill Manhattan needed to happen without warning, but the talk could happen afterwards (if Dr. M was judged to not be hasty with his trigger finger).

  54. Dix says:

    I don’t know. I can’t vote. The guy in the movie wouldn’t sacrifice himself. The guy in the book is a little deeper – and maybe a little more distanced from humanity, including his own. He might just be psychopathic enough to feel his own life is, if it cannot be used to accomplish something great, worthless – and therefore no harm in sacrifice anyway. Or he might be so analytically self-removed that he just wouldn’t care. I’d have to read again with the question purely in mind.

  55. DavyRam says:

    Yes. Not because Ozy is selfless or inherently good, but precisely because of the extent of his ego. He is concerned about proving just how great he is, certainly, but only to himself. As far as Adrian is concerned, he is so far above humanity that his self-adulation would be worth more than the praise of all of the rest of mankind. I really don’t think he’d care about being forgotten, as long as he could still go out saying “I did it!” to himself.

  56. JKjoker says:

    if he wants to be the new “Alexander” he would never let himself die and be forgotten, i voted No

  57. Paladin says:

    My first thought is that he would sacrifice himself, because if he saw his own death as the only way to save the world I don’t think he’d be above doing so. But in the end I don’t think he’d trust the world to anyone else. After the part in the book/movie where they get everyone together to try to make a supergroup and it falls apart it looks like he makes a decision. “I can’t rely on anyone else to save the world, I’ll have to do it myself.” From this point on I think he’d avoid a plan that doesn’t leave him alive to continue guiding the world. Even if he left detailed notes or something he probably doesn’t believe anyone else is smart enough to do the job.

  58. neolith says:

    Yes, he would. He didn’t stop Nightowl from beating him up after he explained his plan.

  59. DavyRam says:

    @Vladius: I have to object to your implication that Watchmen is some kind of left-wing propaganda by an advocate of Stalinist dictatorships. Firstly because its wrong, secondly because it insults a writer I like very much,secondly because it is wrong, thirdly because it misses one of the book’s virtues, fourthly because it is wrong, fifthly because it simplifies the whole thing horrendously. Oh, and it is wrong too.

    Firstly, I find it difficult to believe anyone could read the book without concluding A: that we have characters presenting mutually incompatible versions of “superhero” behaviour and B: they are all nuts. To claim that any character in the book is an “author avatar” is a spectacular exercise in point-missing. They are all wrong. They exist not so Moore can speak through them, but so he can put them under the microscope.

    The idea that the ending somehow supports Veidt. Of course it does. That’s why it makes you sympathise with a whole bunch of characters before they get murdered. That’s why it has an entire side story presenting Adrian as a deranged lunatic who goes mad with greif (black freighter). That’s why Adrian’s last appearance is getting told he was wrong all along by God. Rorschach isn’t Moore’s favourite character, but he gets the cool action scenes and importantly is the one who dies for his beliefs. You don’t give the one act people instinctively see as heroic to a right-wing character if you’re making left wing propaganda.

    Alan Moore is heavily left-wing, it would be stupid to deny that. But not everyone needs to define everything they do as part of the massively important war between two ever-so-slightly different American political parties. V for Vendetta was a far more aggressively political work than watchmen. An anarchist terrorist taking down a fascist dictatorship no less. Plenty of room for “lefties are saints” propaganda there! But the anarchist in an insane sociopath and the anarchy presented after the government is destroyed in more a dystopia than a Utopia. Claim watchmen and or V for Vendetta or whateverare medocire works,well that’s much needed puncturing of egos. But to claim they are written as crude one sided propaganda, I can not agree with that. Alan Moore does not feel the need for literature to presented a one sided argument for the authors political views. Maybe you do, Vladius. Maybe you think in a work by a known LEFTIE (who is obviously stupid because he disagrees with you) anyone (who fits your definition of) left wing not being decried as an insane idiot must be propaganda. This is probably not so. You’ve probably heard things about Mr. Moore that colour your otherwise immaculate reasoning when reading the book, becuase I really don’t think you can call him a political propagndaist. Now,a cavalier attitude to female characters, there you might be on more solid ground.

    Also,what is wrong with looking like an insane hippie?! More people should look like Alan Moore, dammit.

  60. Michelle says:

    Stop him from or allow him to? I got the impression both from reading the book and the movie he didn’t believe Night Owl 2 was a threat.

  61. Michelle says:

    “The idea that the ending somehow supports Veidt. Of course it does. That’s why it makes you sympathise with a whole bunch of characters before they get murdered. That’s why it has an entire side story presenting Adrian as a deranged lunatic who goes mad with greif (black freighter). That’s why Adrian’s last appearance is getting told he was wrong all along by God. Rorschach isn’t Moore’s favourite character, but he gets the cool action scenes and importantly is the one who dies for his beliefs. You don’t give the one act people instinctively see as heroic to a right-wing character if you’re making left wing propaganda.”

    That’s why I think it’s genius. It makes you think Veidt’s Utopia is okay. Put a little self-analysis in it and you start to get a creepy feeling, because the only people who try to put in utopia tend to be dictators which don’t have a good track record in this reality.

    Moore leftist, well yeah…but I don’t think you can just say his work is leftist or rightist. Really it transcends that…down in the area of human nature we’re all flawed beasts. That’s what I like about his stuff.

  62. Vladius: Heh. Witty rejoinder, and I’m not being sarcastic.

    It’s true that Communism in specific and leftist thought more generally tends to be utopian. But that’s a bit of a shift of the goalposts. First you said Veidt is a typical example of leftist egotism; now it’s utopianism, which really isn’t the same thing. I guess you agree that the association between the left and egotism isn’t particularly sustainable. But Veidt’s plot is really not utopian. Veidt may have utopian notions (although his idea of what a utopia would *be* seems far from leftist–this guy wants to be Rameses), but his immediate concern is a last ditch effort to stave off a nuclear war. And if there’s a group that is wedded to the idea that there are threats which must be stopped at all costs, including particularly costs that involve covert operations, assassinations and large scale death, it’s surely the right.

    Ultimately the basis of this misunderstanding is pointed out by Shamus in #43: Veidt *is* a lot like a certain often-stereotyped but really existing type of American *liberal*. And American Conservatives such as Vladius are under the impression that American liberals are leftists. They aren’t. By the standards of the entire rest of the world and even the serious Left in the US, they’re centre-right technocrats. One of the core weaknesses of the US right is their tendency to imagine that everyone who isn’t like them is the same.
    The left is generally all about egalitarianism. People in real life find it hard to do egalitarianism, whether because of nature, nurture or both, so it often goes wrong. But the idea is that people should get together and run stuff themselves–not just the stuff we think of as political, but also the stuff we think of as economic. And the point is much like the usual point of democracy. Democracy is not about making the best decisions. The point is that the people affected by the decisions have the right to be the ones making them. It’s our lives so it’s our decision. That’s citizenship. Similarly, technocrats can argue about the wonders of free-market efficiency and the eternal growth it provides, although one does wonder about that. But the point of, say, social anarchism is that it’s our lives and we’re the ones doing the work, so we get to decide how and for what. If that leads to a “good” economy by whatever definition you might have, that’s nice but hardly the point. This kind of idea is about as far from a Veidt or even the right’s vision of the horrors of a top-down-administered “nanny state” as you can get.

    This is also the reason for the other unusual perspective I see you putting forward, Vladius: The idea that Moore is defining Veidt as correct and heroic, something hardly anybody else seems to think. As I see it, your reasoning goes something like “Moore is ‘left’, Veidt is the only ‘left’ character, therefore Moore must intend a reading of Veidt as correct”. But I don’t think Moore is the kind of guy who sees himself as having much in common politically with technocratic liberals. He’s much more politically radical than that.

  63. mister k says:

    “Yes, he would. He didn’t stop Nightowl from beating him up after he explained his plan.” Only in the film, of course, in the book Nite Owl slinks away, defeated ( a far more fitting ending for that character, I feel). I do feel like Veidt would kill himself, if he was utterly convinced (in his own mind) that this would be the thing that saved the world. He clearly is off the belief that it is HE and he alone who can save the world (an extension, in fact, of many of the other super heroes), and will go to any length to prove that.

  64. Oh hey! Wikipedia says Rameses II and Ozymandias are the same historical figure, just translated differently! I had no idea.

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