A new Watchmen fan theory suggests that Jeremy Irons is not playing an elderly Ozymandias, but the enigmatic Dr. Manhattan.
Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen series on HBO is a sequel to the original comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the latter of whom is assisting with the show. In the backstory of HBO’s Watchmen, Ozymandias was victorious in tricking the world into world peace by faking an alien invasion that killed millions, while Dr. Manhattan, the only person in the world with superpowers, left for an unknown galaxy to experiment with developing life forms. When we catch up with them on the show, Dr. Manhattan is on Mars, while Ozymandias (seemingly portrayed by Jeremy Irons) has apparently faked his own death and is retired in a castle.
But what if not is all as it appears? Reddit user TheDeadlySpaceman hypothesizes that the Watchmen character that Jeremy Irons is playing is Dr. Manhattan under the guise of Ozymandias. After all, the character has never been addressed as Ozymandias or Adrian Veidt, and is credited as the “Lord of Country Manor” on the show (a note which is present in the show’s script itself). One character, Will Reeves, believes that Dr. Manhattan is capable of changing his physical appearance to look like someone else. While this is never seen in the comic book, Dr. Manhattan is shown to be a character who does not have limits; he can also duplicate himself.
All of the interludes with Jeremy Irons’ Lord of Country Manor have seemingly nothing to do with the main plot at hand, and taking place at a castle in an unspecified location. The man has a number of cloned servants, and seems obsessed with the idea of making a play about Dr. Manhattan’s origin, and more specifically, watchmaking – something that Ozymandias did not have interest in in the source material. TheDeadlySpaceman’s theory states that this is a hint that the Lord of Country Manor is, in fact, Dr. Manhattan. In a brief scene in the first episode, footage of Dr. Manhattan on Mars can be seen where he’s destroying a castle structure that looks remarkably like the architecture that is home to Jeremy Irons’ mysterious character, and if he’s able to duplicate himself and have clone bodies, then it’s possible that he’s Dr. Manhattan performing some kind of experiment.
Another possibility may be that Jeremy Irons is indeed playing Ozymandias, but the character was kidnapped by Dr. Manhattan and placed upon Mars in some sort of controlled environment. Likewise, it’s also possible that Ozymandias’s scenes take place earlier in the timeline than the main narrative. This season of Watchmen has seven more episodes, so there is plenty of chances to delve into the twists and turns of the story, but the mystery of the character that Jeremy Irons is playing seems to be something that will have to be resolved sooner rather than later.
Here is the official synopsis for Watchmen:
Set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.
Watchmen stars Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, and James Wolk. The series is produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television, based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Dave Gibbons and published by DC.
Watchmen airs Sundays on HBO.