Ozymandias (comics)

Ozymandias (comics)
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Watchmen #1 (1986)
Created by Alan Moore (story) and Dave Gibbons (art), based on Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt
In-story information
Alter ego Adrian Veidt
Team affiliations Crimebusters
Abilities Genius-level intellect
Amazing athlete and hand-to-hand combatant
Possesses sophisticated weapons and equipment
Limited super speed and reaction time

Ozymandias (real name Adrian Veidt), (play /ˌɒziˈmændiəs/ oz-ee-man-dee-əs) is a fictional character and the main antagonist appearing in the comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics. Named Ozymandias in the manner of Ramesses II, he is a modified version of the comic book character Thunderbolt from Charlton Comics. His name recalls the famous poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which takes as its theme the fleeting nature of empire and is excerpted as the epigraph of one of the chapters of Watchmen. Ozymandias made it to number 29 on Wizard's Top 200 Comic Book Characters list and also number 25 on the Top 100 Villains list.


Fictional character biography

Adrian Veidt was born in 1939, the son of rich German immigrant parents. As a child, he received high grades in school, and it was noted that he was very intelligent. He then hid this information from his elders and peers by deliberately achieving average marks. After his parents' deaths, he inherited their substantial fortune at the young age of 17, but he chose to give it all to charity and embark on a vision quest, following the route of his childhood idol Alexander the Great. His rationale was that he wanted to be free from money and make something of himself on his own, from nothing. During an excursion into the Middle East, Veidt consumed a ball of hash and developed visions of the past. At the conclusion of his travels, in Egypt, he realized that Alexander the Great was a pale imitation of Ramesses II, and he became Veidt's new hero. Returning to America after a year of traveling, Veidt named himself Ozymandias and became a costumed vigilante, earning a reputation as "the smartest man on the planet." He debuted in early 1958 by exposing a drug ring in New York City. During the early 1960s, he was a member of the Crimebusters, which was organized by former Minuteman and adventurer Captain Metropolis, who sought to re-form a new version of his old team.

Due to the increasingly negative perceptions of vigilantes by the media, Veidt predicted that the public would turn away from them. Two years before vigilante crimefighters were banned by the "Keene Act," Veidt revealed his secret identity, retired from superheroism and marketed his image, while maintaining an ethical streak—he never marketed the images of his allies or foes, despite having a decently sound legal loophole to do so. He became the richest man in the world and was known as a great humanitarian, and he used this to bankroll his secret scheme of creating a catastrophic event to deceive the world into uniting against a common enemy and thus avert nuclear war. Upon completion of his project, Veidt planned to murder all of his (unwitting) accomplices and arrange the psychological deterioration and self-exile of the presumably invincible Doctor Manhattan.

Fellow masked vigilante the Comedian (Edward Blake) stumbled upon Veidt's plans, leading to Veidt personally murdering the Comedian, setting off the chain of events told in the story of Watchmen, which begins several hours after the murder of the Comedian.[1]

As part of his genetic experimentation, he created a genetically-engineered feline, which he named "Bubastis" (the Greek name for an ancient Egyptian city which honored the goddess Bast), as his pet and protector.

Events of Watchmen

Watchmen starts the day after Blake's murder; Veidt is first seen when Rorschach visits him to get his opinion on Blake's murder and to warn Veidt about a possible serial killer targeting superheroes ("mask killer"). Rorschach is unconvinced of Veidt's theory that Blake was assassinated by a bitter arch-rival. Veidt is one of the few people attending Blake's funeral, at which he reminisces about the failed Crimebusters meeting. Exactly halfway through the Watchmen story, Veidt narrowly escapes an assassination attempt that leaves his assistant dead. The would-be assassin dies from an unseen cyanide capsule before Veidt can interrogate him.

At the climax of Watchmen, Rorschach and Nite Owl deduce that Veidt is behind the whole plot after they discover that a shell company owned by Veidt's corporation employed all the people whose cancer was allegedly caused by contact with Doctor Manhattan. Rorschach and Nite-Owl realize that Veidt exposed Manhattan's former lover, colleagues, and an enemy to radiation and deliberately monitored them for cancer, so Manhattan would flee Earth out of either guilt or the public's enmity. When Rorschach and Nite-Owl arrive at Veidt's "Antarctic retreat", Karnak, Veidt defeats them in an intense fight. He then explains his plan to save humanity from itself: Inspired by Captain Metropolis' plea that somebody needed to save the world, he devised a scheme to teleport a biologically-engineered, telepathic creature to New York City, which would immediately explode in a psychic shock wave, killing millions and convincing the world that they were under extraterrestrial attack. The United States and the Soviet Union, on the brink of nuclear confrontation, would then end their feud and join forces against the supposed alien invaders. He also admits to framing Manhattan; killing the Comedian, who had discovered the plan; framing Rorschach for the murder of Moloch; and staging the attempt on his own life, forcing a cyanide pill down the attacker's throat. When Rorschach and Nite-Owl ask him when he planned to execute his scheme, Veidt reveals that it was completed before they arrived using the line "I did it thirty-five minutes ago", which is then confirmed by news broadcasts.

Doctor Manhattan then returns from his self-imposed exile with Silk Spectre. The ever-prepared Veidt attacks them, but his planned method of defeating Doctor Manhattan fails. He disintegrates Manhattan, who soon later reforms himself. Manhattan and Silk Spectre learn about Veidt's role in the destruction of New York but, realizing that exposing Veidt's plan will undo the nascent world peace, the heroes agree to remain silent on the plot, except for moral absolutist Rorschach. As Rorschach prepares to return to America and reveal Veidt's plan to the world, he ultimately lets Manhattan kill him. Before Manhattan leaves to create life in another galaxy, Veidt asks him if he "did the right thing in the end". Manhattan replies that "In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends", leaving Veidt in doubt about how long the peace will last, and if Blake was right about humanity after all.

As the story ends, Veidt (and everyone else) is oblivious to the fact that prior to the final confrontation, Rorschach sent a journal of his findings to a local newspaper. Rorschach's journal details his entire investigation and his findings about Veidt's plan. In the last panel, an editor's assistant is left to decide which material from a stack of reader mail will be used as "filler" for an upcoming issue, and which correspondence should be burned at the end of the year. The assistants hand lands on Rorshach's journal and the novel ends.

Powers and abilities

Adrian Veidt has been deemed "the smartest man in the world" by many, mainly the media, though this title is deserved. Veidt deftly built both a legitimate and criminal empire large enough to become a global threat through his exploitation of advanced technology and genetics. In one scene, he is shown viewing a wall filled floor to ceiling with television screens, each showing a different image, in order to demonstrate his ability to pay attention to each one simultaneously and to have enough left over to pay attention to best Rorschach and Nite Owl II as they try to sneak up on him.

He has ambition matching his intelligence, evidenced by his successful execution of a plan to help Earth towards utopia by ending international hostilities. He is shown to be a ruthless master strategist, swiftly eliminating anybody who dares to get in the way of his plans, while maintaining total secrecy. Additionally, Veidt is depicted at the pinnacle of human physical ability, to the point of being able to reflexively catch a bullet. He is a superb fighter and martial artist, almost a superhuman unarmed combatant, easily defeating both Rorschach and Nite Owl. His only defeat came early in his career at the hands of the Comedian, whom he later bested and killed.

A world-class athlete, he is physically fit and does acrobatic performances in aid of charity events, performing excellently despite actually being in his mid-forties. Included as a back-up feature to issue #11, a Veidt interview conducted by Doug Roth notes Veidt as resembling a man of thirty rather than one of the middle age.


Ozymandias has a unique personality in contrast to the other Watchmen. Veidt's most noticeable attribute is his superiority complex; he believes that he is so wise and powerful that he must unite the warring modern world as Alexander the Great did in his time. From originally doubting the point of beating up street criminals, while the greater crimes of the powerful and governments go unpunished, he begins to study world politics. His studies show that nuclear war will bring the world to an end in just a few years. In response to this, he single-handedly starts his plan to save the world.

Ozymandias is politically liberal, supporting social causes and performing at a benefit for India, which has suffered famine. He believes that everyone is capable of personal greatness, if they try hard enough, and that any problem can be solved with the correct application of human intelligence.

Ozymandias is shown to be both very genial as noted by Hollis Mason, and does not lack a sense of humor, joking around many times during his interview with Nova Express and his battle with Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. Ozymandias is also a vegetarian, and is seen eating a bowl of peas and tofu. His favorite companion is his genetically-engineered pet lynx, Bubastis.

Character differences in the script drafts of the film

In the 1989 Sam Hamm film draft Veidt's goal is to go back in time to kill Osterman before he becomes Dr. Manhattan, because he reasons that Manhattan's existence has led America to nuclear war with the Russians. Veidt is unable to kill Jonathan Osterman in the past, but Osterman decides to alter the past so that Dr. Manhattan is never "born." By sacrificing his present self, Dr. Manhattan allows the human Osterman to have a normal life, but he kills Veidt before he could kill him in the past.[2] In the 2003 David Hayter film draft script Veidt plans to fire a solar radiation beam into New York; Veidt's plan succeeds, but Veidt also intends to kill Dreiberg and Laurie afterwards. Dreiberg kills Veidt in self-defense.[3] In the 2009 film, Veidt follows the same course as in the graphic novel with one exception—rather than an "alien force", Adrian sets his plan into motion so that Dr. Manhattan is made out to be the culprit.

2009 Film version

Matthew Goode plays Veidt in the 2009 film directed by Zack Snyder. During earlier pre-production and attempts to make the film in 2004, Tom Cruise and Jude Law (who is a fan of the comic) both expressed interest in playing the role, but they left the project after several delays and budget problems.[4][5][6] However, Law's likeness is clearly obvious on the costume design layout for Veidt's Ozymandias costume in Watchmen: The Art of the Film, indicating a possibly more concrete involvement before leaving the project.[7] Like Nite-Owl, Ozymandias' costume was changed extensively from the purple and gilt of the graphic novel, so as to further emphasize his fascination with Egyptian royalty and to reference and parody superhero films such as Batman & Robin.[5][8][9] Gibbons noted that, for example, "Ozymandias has got nipples on his costume. Well, you know, think about it for a bit. That's an obvious reference to the later Batman movie with George Clooney with a nippled Batsuit."[10]

In his portrayal of the character, Goode played Veidt with a hint of a German accent in private and an American accent to the media. Encouraged by Snyder to further interpret his role, Goode came up with his own backstory for Veidt's true motivations for giving away his inherited wealth—his shame at his parents being Nazi sympathizers.[11] The official film companion book includes a timeline putting his date of birth in 1950 instead of 1939 (making him 35 at the time of the story's events rather than 46),[12] but this is never stated in-film, so its veracity may be questionable.


  1. ^ Moore, Alan (2006). Watchmen. Titan. ISBN 1-85286-024-3. 
  2. ^ Hamm, Sam. Watchmen Screenplay (1989).
  3. ^ Hayter, David. WATCHMEN --3rd draft--. September 26, 2003. Accessed on December 8, 2008.
  4. ^ Diane Garrett; Michael Fleming (2007-07-25). "Cast set for Watchmen". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117969143.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  5. ^ a b Jonah Weiland (2007-03-14). "300 POST-GAME: ONE-ON-ONE WITH ZACK SNYDER". Comic Book Resources. http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=9982. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  6. ^ Borys Kit (2007-07-26). "Watchmen powering up with castings". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20071011181346/http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ie88dcf13294612e0d5010ddce2a351f1. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  7. ^ Aperlo, Peter: Watchmen: The Art of the Film. Titan Books 2009
  8. ^ "Zack Snyder Fan Q&A — Part II". WatchmenComicMovie.com. 2008-02-14. http://www.watchmencomicmovie.com/021408-zack-snyder-watchmen-interview.php. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  9. ^ "Exclusive Zack Snyder Video Interview Backstage at Saturn Awards". Collider.com. 2008-06-26. http://www.collider.com/entertainment/news/article.asp/aid/8331/tcid/1. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  10. ^ Dave Gibbons, "Dave Gibbons: Watchmen's artist tells us how the famed graphic novel changed his life and gives some thoughts on the upcoming movie and game," Electronic Gaming Monthly 235 (December 2008): 53.
  11. ^ "Capone Interviews Ozymandias! Matthew Goode Talks BRIDESHEAD REVISTED and WATCHMEN!". Ain't It Cool News. 2008-07-21. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37561. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  12. ^ Aperlo, Peter.Watchmen: The Film Companion. Titan Books, 2009.

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