It’s a world where costumed heroes are a dime a dozen, but it’s one of the basic ironies of the book that there really isn’t anyone in “Watchmen” that’s actually, you know, heroic – not by the standard definition of the term, anyway, not like Batman or Superman or Green Lantern.
In fact, there’s really only one character who lives by any sort of hero’s code at all. Could it be, then, that Rorschach is the greatest hero of all in “Watchmen”?
“Yeah, in a strange, messed up kind of way!” actor Jackie Earle Haley laughed. “That’s messed up [but true]. Real messed up.”
Rorschach, of course, isn’t exactly anyone’s definition of a true hero except his own, a guy who would sacrifice the whole world if it meant punishing the actions of one wicked man.
“That to me is what’s so admirable about him,” Earle Haley insisted. “Rorschach's complexity is interesting too because it's an attacking complexity. He tries to simplify the world in black and white. We live in such a world of grays that it’s next to impossible and I just love the way he does it. Playing this guy I almost went nuts, just trying to reconcile that aspect of him. I just kept staring deeper and deeper and deeper into complexity to try and define it and how you can black and white this.”
And, yet, of course, Rorschach finds a way, culminating in an unpopular decision that precipitates his end. But no matter what the collateral cost or unintended benefits, a bad deed to Rorschach is a bad deed, Haley said. And there’s something you gotta respect about that.
“The best way I can describe what I mean is that Rorschach thinks that you're not what you say you mean, you're what you do. You are your behavior,” Haley said of the character. “That sort of forced me to look at my own behavior, to ask myself, ‘Who's my behavior victimizing today?’ It doesn't have to be on such a scale where somebody is getting murdered, it may be just be some self centered thing that I'm doing that's making my wife stay a little more miserable or my kids. We justify our behavior with complexity. Not for Rorschach.”
Is Rorschach the most heroic character in “Watchmen”? If not, who is? Sound off on your thoughts below.