Watchmen - trailer
Warner Bros

Elon Musk has appeared to compare himself to the super-powered character Dr Manhattan from the acclaimed Watchmen novel, which people have interpreted as a huge misreading of the character.

The South African entrepreneur is having quite the first half of 2022.

Musk is currently involved in a lucrative but controversial takeover bid of Twitter, has strongly denied sexual assault claims against him, has stated that he is now voting Republican as well as fraternising with right-wing figures online and also had a cameo in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial due to his relationship with the latter.

Now, the 50-year-old CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has tweeted a frame from the 1986 comic book series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, which is considered to be one of the greatest graphic novels ever made. The image Musk tweeted is one of the most famous from the pages of the book and features Dr Manhattan, a human who gained his godlike powers as the result of a nuclear experiment gone wrong, sitting alone on the surface of Mars.

Manhattan is seemingly capable of anything and experiences time in both the past, present and future. Manhattan exiles himself to Mars after becoming disillusioned with the human race, as well as being accused of causing cancer among former friends and colleagues.

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While on Mars, Manhattan, who by this point in the story has transcended to a higher state of intelligence and understanding than anyone who has ever lived, ponders: "I am tired of this world-these people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives."

Musk might be making several references here. The most obvious one is his desire to take humans to Mars and colonise the red planet, however, as the world's richest man he could also be making a slight nod at the overwhelming power he wields. But as noted in that previous quote Manhattan's self-imposed exile on Mars is born out of frustration with humanity and the limits imposed on our lives and capacity for understanding.

Reaction to Musk's tweet has been largely critical as many feel that by comparing himself to Manhattan, the tech mogul has fundamentally misunderstood both the character and Alan Moore's book.

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