Superhero Origin: Ozymandias (Watchmen)

Superhero Origin: Ozymandias (Watchmen)
VOICE OVER: Daniel Paradis
Look on his origin, ye mighty, and despair! For this list we'll be looking at the origins of Watchmen's infamous anti-villain before the new HBO Watchmen series!

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Superhero Origin: Ozymandias

Look on his origin, ye mighty, and despair! Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of Ozymandias.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1987’s Watchmen #11 and which was expanded upon in 2012’s Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1-2.

Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, played a crucial role in the Watchmen series – and a rather ambiguous one, for that matter. Arguably the world’s smartest man, with a body trained to peak perfection, he was capable of defeating almost any opponent – and of ruthlessly tackling the tough challenges that most people would shy away from.

Ozymandias’ origin story was told in the original Watchmen series, but not until late in the game. To celebrate the launching of a new project, Veidt gathered some of his most trusted servants for a drink. He took the opportunity to relate how he had come to America as a baby with his parents. He excelled at schoolwork, but then purposely pursued only average grades to avoid attracting attention. A rich orphan at age seventeen, he decided to retrace the footsteps of his hero, Alexander the Great. Under the influence of some especially potent hashish, Veidt received a vision that seemed to come from the Pharaohs. He decided he would follow in their footsteps to fight the evil that men do – and thus Ozymandias was born.

This brief tale served as Ozymandias’ backstory for 25 years. But when a new Ozymandias mini-series launched in 2012, writer Len Wein kept the basic frame but filled in some of the details.

Veidt’s parents appear to have come to America from Germany as Nazism was on the rise. His parents had great ambitions for him, hoping he would become President. A prodigy, he scored so high on his initial school tests that his teachers believed he had cheated. Adrian’s father forced him to “dumb down,” so that he would not be thought a freak.

Things went fine for several years, but when he was ten years a bully targeted him. Adrian took it upon himself to master a martial art and then taught the bully a lesson. His father’s wealth kept Adrian from being expelled for his justifiable actions. For his part, Adrian from then on refused to hide his talents and graduated from high school at age 14. While working on his post-graduate degree at Harvard three years later, his parents died.

Adrian decided to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Alexander the Great. Unlike Alexander however, Adrian wanted to build his greatness out of nothing, and thus donated his family inheritance to charity before going on a quest to retrace Alexander’s steps. His experience made him even more determined, and after a hashish-inspired vision, he returned to America with a mission to save mankind from itself.

In scarcely no time, Adrian earned a fortune from financial investments and began carving out a business empire. He also fell in love with a woman named Miranda but despite his feeling for her, she took a back seat to his ambitions. When Miranda, upset at being ignored, died of a drug overdose, Adrian dug out a Halloween costume he had prepared and decided to hunt down those he felt responsible.

Locating a low level drug dealer, he extracted the information he needed to locate the man who had supplied Miranda with her deadly drugs, a kingpin named Porcini. He quickly located Porcini’s hideout and, after a scuffle with various thugs, captured the villain. When the police arrived, he quoted the poet Shelley’s and then took off. And so the world had a new costumed crime fighter to be on the watch for.

As fans of the franchise know, Ozymandias is a rather complicated character and hard to classify. Like the other Watchmen characters, Ozymandias hasn’t really appeared in media other than the 2009 film. But in whatever form audience encounter him, Ozymandias makes a very memorable impression.

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