Ozymandias (Watchmen)

Ozymandias (/ˌɒziˈmændiəs/ oz-ee-MAN-dee-əs; real name Adrian Alexander Veidt) is a fictional character and anti-villain in the American graphic novel miniseries 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 Peter Cannon, 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 is ranked number 25 on Wizard's Top 200 Comic Book Characters list and number 21 on IGN's Top 100 Villains list.[1]

Ozymandias. Art by Dave Gibbons.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceWatchmen #1 (September 1986)
Created byAlan Moore
Dave Gibbons
In-story information
Alter egoAdrian Alexander Veidt
Team affiliationsCrimebusters
Watchmen (cinematic version)
Notable aliasesThe World's Smartest Man
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Unrivalled understanding of human psychology
  • Mastery of all known martial arts
  • Ultra-fast reflexes
  • Business management

Ozymandias made his first live-action appearance in the 2009 film Watchmen played by Matthew Goode. An older Adrian Veidt in the television series Watchmen on HBO, is played by Jeremy Irons.


Early lifeEdit

Adrian Veidt was born in 1939, and is the son of wealthy German-American 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 age seventeen, but chose to give it all to charity as he wanted to make something of himself on his own. Veidt embarked on a vision quest, following the route of his childhood idol Alexander the Great. During an excursion into the Middle East, Veidt consumed a ball of hashish and saw visions of the past. As he finished his travels in Egypt, he realized that Alexander was a pale imitation of Ramesses II, who became Veidt's new hero. On returning to the US, he began training himself to achieve peak physical condition, becoming a world-class gymnast in the process.

Superhero careerEdit

At age nineteen, Veidt named himself Ozymandias (the Greek name for Ramesses II) and became a costumed vigilante, earning a reputation as "the smartest man on the planet” and using his physical skills to non-violently incapacitate opponents. He debuted in early 1958 by exposing a drug ring in New York City. An early attempt at his “bullet catch” trick worked, though it deprived him of the first three fingers of his right hand in the process. Undeterred, Veidt had his entire hand replaced with a bionic prosthesis. In 1966, he was invited by former Minuteman and adventurer Captain Metropolis to become a member of the Crimebusters, but the group never came to fruition due to the Comedian's breaking up of the meeting. It was at this moment that Veidt began to believe superheroics were not enough to save the world, and began plotting to think of a method that could.

After being a superheroEdit


Due to the increasingly negative perceptions of vigilantes by the media, Veidt predicted that the public would turn away from them. Two years before costumed heroes were banned by the Keene Act, Adrian Veidt revealed his secret identity, retired from superheroism and marketed his image. He became very wealthy and was known as a great humanitarian, and 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 vigilante Edward Blake, a.k.a. the Comedian, stumbled upon Veidt's plans. This led Veidt to personally murder the Comedian, setting off the chain of events told in the story of Watchmen.[2]

Events of WatchmenEdit

Veidt is first seen when Rorschach visits him to get his opinion on Blake's murder and to warn about a possible serial killer targeting superheroes. 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. Later, 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.

Rorschach and Nite Owl deduce that Veidt is behind the whole plot after they link one of Veidt's shell companies to a plot to discredit Manhattan. The duo 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 public enmity. When Rorschach and Nite Owl arrive at Veidt's Antarctic retreat, he easily overpowers both of them and explains his plan to save humanity from itself: teleport a biologically-engineered, telepathic creature to New York which would kill millions and convince the world that they were under extraterrestrial attack. The US and the Soviet Union, on the brink of nuclear confrontation, would then join forces against the supposed alien invaders. He also admits to framing Manhattan; killing the Comedian; framing Rorschach for the murder of Moloch; and staging the attempt on his own life, killing his attacker. When Rorschach and Nite Owl ask him when he planned to execute his scheme, Veidt reveals that it was completed before they arrived, saying, "I did it thirty-five minutes ago."

When Doctor Manhattan and Silk Spectre confront Veidt, he attempts to disintegrate Manhattan, but Doctor Manhattan is able to reform himself. Silk Spectre attempts to shoot him, but he catches the bullet and knocks her out. Realizing that exposing Veidt's plan will undo the nascent world peace, most of the heroes agree to remain silent on the plot. Rorschach, a moral absolutist, prepares to return to the US and reveal Veidt's plan to the world, but 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 "nothing ever ends", leaving Veidt in doubt about how long the peace will last. Unbeknownst to Veidt and the other characters, Rorschach has previously mailed a journal to a newspaper detailing his findings about Veidt's plan. It is left ambiguous whether the newspaper ultimately publishes its contents.

Before WatchmenEdit

A six-part series on Ozymandias titled Before Watchmen: Ozymandias had its first issue released in July 2012. It is written by Len Wein, with art by Jae Lee. This is part of a planned 35-issue Before Watchmen series.[3]

Events of Doomsday ClockEdit

Seven years after the events of Watchmen, Rorschach's journal is released to the public and Veidt becomes a fugitive. Having purportedly been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and knowing that his plan to save the world has failed, Veidt recruits a man bearing the Rorschach moniker and has him break Erika Manson (Marionette) and her husband Marcos Maez (Mime) out of prison. When Rorschach II returns with the two, Veidt reveals himself and his situation, explaining to the two criminals that they must follow Manhattan to another universe and convince him to save their world.[4]

Using the Owlship, Veidt and his group travel to the DC Universe just as nuclear war breaks out on their Earth. After conducting research on this new world he's found himself in, Veidt goes to Metropolis to ask Lex Luthor to join his quest. However, as he is pleading his case, Veidt is shocked to find himself being confronted by the Comedian, who has been transported to the DC Universe by Manhattan. The Comedian turns out to be evenly matched with Veidt, forcing him to retreat through Luthor's office window.[5][6]

Veidt falls twenty stories and is hospitalized with minor injuries, but soon manages to escape. Upon returning to the Owlship, Veidt is confronted by Batman, who has read the contents of the original Rorschach's journal. As the two elude the police, Batman asserts that Veidt murdered millions as part of a delusional hero syndrome, and accuses him of concocting a conspiracy theory that has negatively affected the public's trust in the superheroes of the DC Universe. Veidt in turn criticizes Batman for focusing all his attention on supervillains while ignoring the world's social problems. A struggle ensues, leading to Batman falling out of the Owlship and into a mob of anti-hero protestors below.[7]

Rorschach II, Saturn Girl and Johnny Thunder meet up with Veidt at the Owlship. Using Veidt's pet lynx, Bubastis II, and the Lantern Battery, Veidt teleports to Manhattan's location at the Joker's lair, where Batman is fighting Marionette and Mime. Leaving Johnny and Saturn Girl on the Owlship, Veidt and Rorschach II confront the others inside. Veidt uses Bubastis II to summon Manhattan, who refuses to return to their world since he's in the middle of experimenting with this one. Manhattan reveals, among other things, that Veidt lied to Rorschach II about having cancer in order to get his help. Rorschach II punches Veidt and flees, while Veidt returns to the Owlship, attacks Imra and Johnny, and declares he can save everyone.[8] Veidt then uses Bubastis' energy to cause an explosion in Moscow, which creates a diplomatic crisis as well as framing Superman and Firestorm.[9] As planned by Veidt, most of Earth's superheroes then go to planet Mars to confront Manhattan, whom they think is responsible.[10] After defeating all the superheroes on Mars, Manhattan returns to Earth and confronts Superman.[11] Manhattan is eventually convinced by Superman to use his powers for the greater good and to return to his Universe to save his Earth. Veidt then reveals that his plan was to engineer the confrontation between Manhattan and Superman, as he had guessed that only the latter could change Manhattan's mind. Veidt is shot by the Comedian but Rorschach stops the bleeding so Veidt can face prosecution. Rorschach and Ozymandias are then teleported by Doctor Manhattan back to the Watchmen Universe, where Veidt is imprisoned for his crimes.[12]

Events of Watchmen (HBO Series)Edit

Veidt appears in the HBO series Watchmen, a direct sequel to the graphic novel, portrayed by Jeremy Irons.[13] It is gradually revealed that Veidt engineered Robert Redford's election as President in 1992 and had inexplicably recorded a video message on the eve of the New York incident (or 11/2) confessing to his hoax, effectively blackmailing Redford. He did this despite the incredible effort he had previously put into keeping the hoax a secret. The president has served seven terms but has distanced himself from Veidt because of his confession, which Veidt resents. In 2008, Veidt is visited at Karnak by a young Vietnamese-American trillionaire named Lady Trieu, who he learns is the daughter of a cleaning lady who surreptitiously impregnated herself with Veidt's sperm. Trieu asks Veidt to fund her construction of a machine capable of destroying Doctor Manhattan and transferring his power into herself; he refuses. The following year, when Manhattan visits Karnak as Cal Abar, Veidt gives him a ring-like device that will give Manhattan amnesia and allow him to live with his wife, Angela, as a seemingly normal human. When Veidt expresses despair that his desired utopia will never come about, Manhattan teleports him to the moon of Europa, where he has created a livable environment and a race of peaceful, subservient cloned beings. Veidt's disappearance isn't discovered until 2012 and he is declared dead in absentia in 2017. He eventually finds the environment to be suffocating and attempts escape, impeded by the cloned beings. He manages to spell out a distress message on Europa's surface for a passing probe owned by Trieu, who sends a ship to bring him home. She brings him to witness her plan to absorb Doctor Manhattan's powers and ascend to godhood, but a captured Manhattan teleports Veidt, Laurie Blake, and Looking Glass to Karnak. The fortress has been randomly and occasionally teleporting harmless genetically modified baby squid around the world, raining them down on cities to keep the public on high alert for another alien incursion. Veidt uses the squid to destroy Trieu's machine, foiling her plan and killing her. Delighted to have saved humanity yet again, Veidt's celebration is cut short when Laurie arrests him for the murder of 3 million people in New York, supported by Looking Glass's possession of Veidt's video confession.

Skills and abilitiesEdit

Adrian Veidt has been deemed "the smartest man in the world" by many, mainly the media, though this title is regarded as well-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.

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 and master strategist, swiftly eliminating anybody who dares to get in the way of his plans, while maintaining total secrecy. Veidt also possesses a photographic memory. Additionally, Veidt is depicted at the pinnacle of human physical ability, to the point of being able to reflexively catch a bullet, though he himself was surprised he managed to do so. He is also an almost superhuman unarmed combatant who easily defeats 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 extremely physically fit and performs acrobatics to aid charity events. He is exceptionally active despite his age (mid-forties at the time of the events of Watchmen). Included as a back-up feature to issue #11, a Veidt interview conducted by Doug Roth notes Veidt as resembling a man of 30 rather than one of middle age.


Adrian Veidt believes that his vast intelligence obligates him to unite the warring modern world, modelling his approach after his personal hero, Alexander the Great, as he did in his time. When he comes to doubt the value of confronting street criminals in the face of greater crimes of the powerful and governments that go unpunished, he endeavors to study world politics, and concludes that nuclear war will bring the world to an end in just a few years, and plans to use such a catastrophe to save the world.[citation needed]

Ozymandias is politically neutral, supporting social causes and performing at a benefit for India, which has suffered famine. He believes that everyone is capable of great intelligence, if they choose to be, and that any problem can be solved with the correct application of human intelligence.[citation needed]

Ozymandias is shown to be very genial as noted by Hollis Mason. He demonstrates his 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. His favorite companion is his genetically-engineered pet lynx, Bubastis.

Feature film and script versionsEdit

In a 1989 Sam Hamm film draft, Veidt's goal is to go back in time to kill Jonathan 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 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.[14] 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 Nite Owl and Silk Spectre afterwards. Nite Owl kills Veidt in self-defense.[15]

In other mediaEdit


  • Ozymandias appears in Watchmen, portrayed by Matthew Goode. 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 of a worldwide attack.

TV seriesEdit

In Watchmen, the HBO television continuation of the graphic novel, an older Veidt is portrayed by Jeremy Irons. Prior to the series' events, he launched a series of attacks from alien squids in New York City, New York, killing three million people as part of a larger plan to avert a nuclear war; in his view, he sacrificed three million lives in order to save the entire human race.

He makes his debut appearance in the pilot episode, "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice", in which he hides in a royal castle in an idyllic countryside on one of the moons of Jupiter years after faking his own death. He has created a race of clones that he uses as his servants, who are unquestioningly loyal to him even as he frequently kills them for sport.

In the second episode, he is seen again in his castle, in which he is directing a play about his old teammate from the original Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), mainly about his origins. In the end of the play, Veidt presses the trigger of a TNT-like burning hose to burn one of his servants alive in order to create Manhattan's rise. One of Veidt's female servants tells him that the clock is not working. Veidt replies that "it has just begun", implying he knows that the world's destruction is impending before clicking the clock, causing it to work again.

Eventually, his servants rise up against him when he attempts to return to Earth, accusing him of the only crime that exists in their world: trying to leave. They hold a trial, in which Veidt represents himself, and shows his contempt for the proceedings by loudly breaking wind as his "closing argument". The judge declares that a herd of pigs is more suitable to be a jury of Veidt's peers, and pronounces him guilty. He is imprisoned, but eventually one of his clones allows him to escape and board a rocket to Earth.

Veidt has a daughter, Trieu (Hong Chau), conceived through artificial insemination. Trieu, who inherited Veidt's scientific genius, involves him in a plan to kill Doctor Manhattan and absorb his powers, claiming that she will use them to heal the planet and end all war. Veidt eventually sees through her utopian façade, however, realizing that she is a "raging narcissist" who desires unlimited power for its own sake; he says, "it takes one to know one". With help from FBI agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) and police officers Angela Abar (Regina King) and Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson), Veidt re-engineers his squids and causes them to rain down on Trieu's base of operations in Tulsa, killing Trieu and destroying the machinery she was going to use to take Manhattan's power. Afterwards, Blake arrests Veidt for crimes against humanity, specifically the earlier squid attacks that killed 3 million people. Veidt protests that his actions served the greater good, but Tillman knocks him unconscious so he and Blake can bring him to justice.

Motion comicsEdit

In popular cultureEdit

  • In The Simpsons episode "Husbands and Knives", infant versions of Ozymandias along with Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, and Nite Owl II are shown riding a surfboard on the cover of a DVD of the fictional film Watchmen Babies in V for Vacation (a parody of Alan Moore's graphic novels Watchmen and V for Vendetta).[17]


  1. ^ "Ozymandias is Number 21". Comics.ign.com. Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  2. ^ Moore, Alan (2006). Watchmen. Titan. ISBN 1-85286-024-3.
  3. ^ Phegley, Kiel (February 1, 2012). "DC Comics To Publish 'Before Watchmen' Prequels", Comic Book Resources.
  4. ^ Doomsday Clock #1. DC Comics.
  5. ^ Doomsday Clock #2. DC Comics.
  6. ^ Doomsday Clock #3. DC Comics.
  7. ^ Doomsday Clock #5. DC Comics.
  8. ^ Doomsday Clock #7. DC Comics.
  9. ^ Doomsday Clock #8. DC Comics.
  10. ^ Doomsday Clock #9. DC Comics.
  11. ^ Doomsday Clock #9. DC Comics.
  12. ^ Doomsday Clock #12. DC Comics.
  13. ^ Hall, Jacob (November 8, 2018). "Exclusive: Jeremy Irons is Older Ozymandias in the 'Watchmen' TV Series, Jean Smart Joins the Cast as an FBI Agent". /Film. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  14. ^ Hamm, Sam. Watchmen Screenplay (1989) Archived 2008-12-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Hayter, David. WATCHMEN --3rd draft--. September 26, 2003. Accessed on December 8, 2008.
  16. ^ ""Watchmen" (2008) TV Series". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  17. ^ "Husbands and Knives". The Simpsons. Season 19. Episode 407. November 18, 2007. Fox Broadcasting Company.