Dr. Manhattan cannot die, at least that is the dominant theory. The character has survived death and as a being of energy, he has proven that he cannot be destroyed as per the natural laws of the universe he exists in – energy cannot be destroyed, it just changes form. And yet, Damon Lindelof’s critically acclaimed Watchmen TV show shows the death of Dr. Manhattan. Likewise, he seems to “die” during the Doomsday Clock comic book event. Is he really dead? Why did he have to die? Keep reading to find out!
Dr. Manhattan died twice. In the Watchmen TV series, he seems to have sacrificed himself to prevent anyone from obtaining godly powers and to destroy the racist group in Tulsa. In the comic books, he removed himself from existence by going back to history and preventing himself from ever being created because he was inspired by Superman’s heroism.
DC Comics, for those of you that are not familiar with the story behind the comics, is a major American comic book publisher founded back in 1934. Along with Marcel Comics, it is the most popular comic book publisher in the United States. DC Comics is a major player in the comic book business and is the “home” of many famous comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and many others.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
Who is Dr. Manhattan?
Dr. Manhattan is the pseudonym of Jonathan “Jon” Osterman, a fictional character from the DC Comics fictional universe. He debuted in Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, Watchmen (1986), and has played an enormous role in shaping the DC Multiverse, even bigger than The Presence.
The creation of Dr. Manhattan was actually an unfortunate incident that happened to physicist Jon Osterman, as he returned to get a watch from his lab coat. The lab coat was left in a test chamber, so Osterman went inside, but the door closed. The other researchers are unable to open the door or override the countdown to the next activation, and Jon’s body is torn to pieces from the force of the generator. In the months that followed, Osterman managed to rebuild himself gradually, until he finally reappeared as a tall, hairless, naked and blue-skinned man, glowing with a “flare of ultraviolet.”
Becoming an actual superhero, Osterman became known as Doctor Manhattan — in honour of the Manhattan Project — and became a pawn of the U.S. Government and the leader of the Watchmen. At one point, he realised the banality of his situation and disappeared off to Mars, abandoning both the Watchmen, and the Earth.
Still, at one point he became disillusioned with his role on Earth and teleported himself to Mars, where he spent most of the time, pondering complex metaphysical questions and discovering the secrets of life and creation. He played a prominent role in enabling Ozymandias’ plot to prevent World War III, even destroying Rorschach in the process.
Later on, he played a pivotal role in the creation of the Flashpoint and New 52 timelines, and was the centre of the mystery explored by Batman and The Flash during “The Button” storyline. He played another major role in Doomsday Clock, where he – once again – became a true superhero, ultimately wiping himself out of existence.
Dr. Manhattan was portrayed by Billy Crudup in Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie, and by Darrell Snedeger (true form) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (as Cal Abar) in the 2019 TV show.
Did Dr. Manhattan die?
We have already discussed Dr. Manhattan’s powers and abilities, concluding that it seems that he cannot die. Yet, there are two iterations of the character that have indeed died (or seem to have died); one is from Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen TV series, while the other is from Doomsday Clock, a massive crossover event that changed a lot in the DC Universe. We are going to discuss these two events in the article.
Why did Dr. Manhattan die in the Watchmen TV show?
This is a very big question and one of the more controversial points in Lindelof’s TV series. Namely, at the very end, Dr. Manhattan – in the form of Cal Abar – dies as the Tulsa-based racist group called the Kavalry harnesses his powers. Luckily for the world, Ozymandias was there to save the day, once again with his alien squids and the world was saved, with Angela Abar seemingly inheriting Dr. Manhattan’s powers thanks to an egg. Here’s the scene for you:
The reasons for Dr. Manhattan’s death in the TV show are vaguely explained. It seems that Dr. Manhattan sacrificed himself in order to prevent the Kavalry from obtaining his powers, affirming what Ozymandias said: “Anyone who seeks to attain the power of a god must be prevented at all costs from attaining it.” Yet, it remains unclear why he didn’t just kill all of them and the series offered an even vaguer response in the form of Dr. Manhattans omnitemporal omniscience, suggesting that it was a future he could not have prevented.
This is just untrue, since Dr. Manhattan has proven – in the comic books – that he is able to interfere with the events around him, so while the TV show did offer an explanation for Manhattan’s death, we cannot but disagree, adding that its treatment of the Dr. Manhattan character – unlike most other elements – wasn’t that good.
Why did Dr. Manhattan die in the Doomsday Clock event?
As far as we know from the comic books, Dr. Manhattan cannot be killed by anyone… except himself. Namely, in Doomsday Clock, Dr. Manhattan seems to die (although we have yet to see how permanent that is).
Namely, Dr. Manhattan, upon seeing Superman’s humanism, decided to once again become a true superhero and reconnect with his human side, so he went back in time and changed the timeline so that he was never even created (thereby triggering the famous grandfather paradox, but even if DC says that Manhattan is “dead”, we don’t believe it to be that easy). So, Dr. Manhattan seems to have developed a moral code that made him realise that humanity is worth preserving, which is why he “killed” himself by never creating himself, but as we stated – we’ve yet to see how permanent that is.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!