I decided to keep going with the #watchmen2pitch challenge.  And by keep going, I mean I was asked if I could do it again today.  This time I went with the notion of a prequel to the Watchmen movie (thus the deviations from the Watchmen comic canon/continuity for the sole purpose of additional movie drama).  Here it is… and I decided to include some notes afterwards on my thought process for developing this pitch:

In 1977 as masked villains grew in numbers and costumed crimefighters sprang up to fight them, politicians debated the Keene Act, which would make masks illegal.  The sheer number of villains kept this political measure at bay, but one tragic night acted as a catalyst turning the Keene Act into a cause worth fighting for.  On that night, a large force of New York City policemen stormed a building in a raid to take down an illegal gambling operation.  None of them survived. 

The Watchmen stole their way onto the crime scene to investigate the slaughter and stumbled onto a single clue–a discarded betting slip… betting against them in a crime that took place the day before.  As they dig deeper, they discover a dark underworld where masked villains rise up to take on the crimefighters like sports stars seeking glory and riches.  Just like the proliferation of betting in sports during the 70s, odds are taken against planned crimes by these masked figures.  Betting for or against their success.  Betting on escape, capture or death.  Betting on who will be there to stop them.

As details leak to the press about this secret organization, Ozymandias shocks the Watchmen and the world by revealing his true identity as Adrian Veidt and stepping away from crimefighting because he could no longer in good conscience protect the people if his presence alone helped bring about these villainous acts.  Following his announcement and the news of the source of all these new masked villains, the NYC police stage a strike plunging the city into chaos with the people rioting against the masks further hindering the investigation.  The military moves in to aid with the riots but with open orders to capture or kill any mask they encounter.

With the world against them and with Dr. Manhattan pulled away to deal with matters of national concern, the remaining Watchmen still succeed in tracking down the nest of masked villains.  With the odds against them, the crimefighters battle this horde of villains and the criminal mastermind behind the operation, the Underboss.  The Watchmen struggle on and find a way to win.  They capture the Underboss… just as the Keene Act passes.  Their reward for ending this menace is the disbanding of the team under the heel of this "retire or be arrested" policy.

In the end, a mysterious figure in shadows (Veidt) works on the model of a familiar Antarctic Pyramid as minions drag the handcuffed Underboss before him.  The mystery  man congratulates the Underboss on a job well done and poisons the criminal and the minions to leave no trace of a connection to the gambling operation and the push for the Keene Act–the first steps toward a utopian world.

So, here’s how my brain pulled this out of the air.  I wanted to do a prequel, and in the comic, there was one major event noted in the story.  The Keene Act (which made masked vigilantism illegal).  I thought about how that would fit with the movie and I remembered Veidt made a tidy sum off of copyrighting masked characters likenesses just before the Keene Act (where they couldn’t fight him legally for the rights without going to jail).  Curious… what if the smartest man in the world was somehow responsible for getting the Keene Act?

I then started working up ideas about how he could orchestrate such a thing, so I started thinking about other big events in the 70s when I remembered that was the era when sports gambling took off because more sporting events were getting televised in the 70s.  Hmm… Veidt needs a lot of money for his scheme… and needs to turn public favor against masked crimefighters… what if gambling was at the core of it all?

What if these masked villains showed up merely to stake their claim in professional crime?  Youngsters with potential could get sponsored by more established criminals and trained to take on jobs and heroes for the sole purpose of betting on them as additional income.  Win-win… play your cards right and you can get the money from the heist or hedge your bets and earn a tidy profit even if they fail.

And then if the public ever found out that these masked villains the heroes always save them from are only showing up because there are crimefighters to make profit off of, it could be enough to turn them against the heroes and set off a police strike… and riots… and forcing the politicians hands to pass the Keene Act.  Besides, it’s much harder to establish a utopia if there are large numbers of heroes and villains running around thinking they’re above the law.

Some other notes: 

Yes, I know Veidt (by canon) revealed his identity about 2 years before the Keene Act passed.  But where’s the drama in that? 

And even though I have the Keene Act being debated here, I believe it was rushed through as an emergency act in response to something.  I don’t think there was a specific even established to trigger this, so I thought it would be nice to have one.