If you saw Watchmen this weekend, you saw Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca gunned down in Ozymandias' lobby in an alt-universe 1985. It wasn't the only automotive tip-o-the-hat. In actuality, the entire movie's about cars.
While watching a dead ringer for Lee Iacocca become, well, exactly that, may have been a bit disconcerting for many auto-obsessed fan-boys, but it wasn't the only automotive hat-tip in Watchmen. Frankly, the entire movie revolves around a need to get the world out of an energy crisis — moving citizens of the world from gas-gulpin' autos to 'lectric cars. But it's not just the movie with a plot-line centered on cars being evil, the graphic novel it's based on did as well.
Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty, let's get a quick recap of the auto-related plotline of the Watchmen graphic novel by way of our friends at Hemmings:
the graphic novel takes place in an alternate 1985, where Dr. Manhattan's very existence has changed several things. Nixon's still president, we triumphed over the Communists in Vietnam, and electric cars have become commonplace. Apparently, Gibbons envisioned electric cars all as jellybean-like pods that recharge at fire hydrant-like roadside plugs."
While the movie version wasn't quite as electric as the original, the world of Watchmen (the movie) still has a plot line revolving around Dr. Manhattan's alternative fuel. But, instead of electric cars being the present (of Watchmen 1985), they are the future, unveiled at the end of the movie — as a savior to the "energy crisis" of the movie plot-line.
Additionally, one of the (many) secondary plot-lines of the graphic novel revolves around the "Dr. Manhattan-produced" electric cars and Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl. Mason retires in the graphic novel because Dr. Manhattan's blue phallic strength makes costumed vigilantes totally unnecessary. Mason decides to go work as an auto mechanic, telling Dr. Manhattan even he can't put GM out of business. Ha. Silly Mason, little do you realize that in reality Dr. Manhattan doesn't need to exist to put GM out of business. Society found a way to do that all on their own. But we digress. In the comic book reality, Dr. Manhattan explains he already has put him out of business with his electric cars. Mason then becomes dejected and ends his life alone, beaten to death by street punks.
So what can we take away from the dual Watchmen realities? Well, for starters, it's really sad seeing Lee Iacocca gunned down. Secondly, Hollywood still views cars as evil things. Like Mason, our love of cars will probably end up leading to a life of sadness.
We wouldn't have it any other way.