There are countless parallels between Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver (1976), but I find the strongest to be between the narrations of Rorschach’s journal and Travis Bickle’s voiceover. Both Rorschach and Bickle live in New York City and explicitly comment how disgusted they are by the city and its people. Based on textual narrative alone, there are striking similarities. Rorschach and Bickle address the filth, ignorance, and sexuality of New Yorkers in an extremely degrading manner, referring to them as garbage and vermin and further expressing a desire to wipe them out. This can be observed as early as the first page of Watchmen, but continues throughout the text (a few other examples are noted on page 22, 24, and 32). Rorschach and Bickle’s narratives provide a structural backbone to the stories, consistently commenting on what they see and further reflecting their mental state of being. Both characters are visibly psychotic sociopaths, observed through both their speech and action.

In addition to textual similarity, there also appears to be visual parallels between Moore’s imagery and Scorsese’s cinematography. One blatant example is on page 67, as Rorschach passes a strip club or adult theater whilst providing his predictable twisted commentary. This evokes a scene from Taxi Driver where Bickle drives past a similar club with almost identical commentary as well as a scene where he takes a girl on a date to an adult theater despite being repulsed by the women.

It is interesting to note that, although Taxi Driver was released around 10 years prior to Watchmen, it is hard to say whether or not Moore was directly influenced by Scorsese. Based upon class discussion and a timeline of production for both pieces, it doesn’t seem that this is the case. However, the similarities are endless between the book and film, particularly in regard to the narration, imagery and mis-en-scene, and ultimately responding to the conflict in Vietnam.

I wonder, who is responsible for influencing who? Why were Rorschach and Bickle’s characters designed in this way? And is there some sort of connection between this sort of anti-hero psychopath and the conflict in Vietnam?