Doctor Jonathan "Jon" Osterman was the most powerful being in existence. Transformed by a radioactive particle test gone wrong, he protected the United States of America from threats for years, under the codename Doctor Manhattan, but eventually grew bored and hid on Earth among humanity before he was exposed and destroyed by Lady Trieu. He left behind the means for his wife, Angela Abar, to transfer his powers to her just before his demise.
Jonathan Osterman was born on August 14, 1929 in Heidelberg, Germany, where he was raised. His father, Hans, was a Jewish watchmaker who left Germany with his son in 1936 after Jon's mother abandoned them for an SS officer. Fearing for his family's well-being, Hans took Jon to Gwynedd, Wales and stayed at Cartwithen Castle for several years.
While there, Jon saw a young couple about to have sex while peeking from a wardrobe. They spotted him, and while he ran away, the couple caught up with him later. They explained they were creating a life because their son died young, and handed Jon a bible, asking him in return to make something beautiful when he got older. At a later point, Jon pursued a career in nuclear physics.
In early 1959, Jon got a job working in a nuclear testing facility in Gila Flats, New Mexico, where he fell in love with Janey Slater. Janey broke her watch during their relationship and Jon, being a former aspiring watchmaker, fixed it for her. Some six months after they first met, Jon planned to give Janey her repaired watch, only to discover he had left it in his lab coat. He remembered that he had left the coat inside the test chamber where they conducted the intrinsic field experiments in the facility. While he was inside the chamber retrieving it, the door closed, automatically locking as a safety feature. Unable to open the door or override the countdown, his colleagues—save for Janey, who could not bear to see his last moments—could only watch in horror as Jon had his 'intrinsic field' removed.
Bathed in the radiant light, he was torn to pieces by the force of the generator. Instantly he was vaporized and was officially declared dead. He reformed his body a few months later, but this time blue, hairless, glowing, and naked. This new form gave Jon immense power, allowing him to experience time in a non-linear, "quantum" fashion, aware of and experiencing all the moments of his life simultaneously, resulting in emotional detachment and constant distraction from the present moment. He could also manipulate matter in any way he desired, change his size and appearance at will, teleport himself and others from place to place, and could transfer his powers to anyone else, which he, however, would not do without their consent.
Jon’s Time as a Superhero
Using the U.S. government's granted codename of "Doctor Manhattan", Jon became a vigilante with his new powers, and joined the team known as the Crimebusters, alongside the Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, the Comedian, and Rorschach. At some point, Jon left Janey and fell in love with the Silk Spectre, real name Laurie Juspeczyk. However, his disconnection from humans made him leave her, too.
The government tasked him with protecting the nation from foreign threats.
Fighting alongside the US Armed Forces and the Comedian, he brought victory to American in the Vietnam War in just three months, allowing the country to crown it a new state and begin designing an updated flag. He continued as an adventurer even after the Keene Act outlawed vigilantes, since he worked entirely for the government.
In 1985, Jon attempted to stop Ozymandias, now retired from adventuring and going by his real name Adrian Veidt, and his plot to save the world by teleporting a giant squid monster into New York City and terrifying the world into banding together against an alien invasion. He failed, however, being disintegrated by Veidt's very own intrinsic field generator. Jon put himself back together but in the end decided to keep Veidt’s secret, leave Earth and pursue new ventures, knowing full well his plan would work and that he would return in the future.
To ensure he’d be left alone in his new exploits, Jon created a decoy version of himself to perform certain tasks on a schedule and placed it on Mars to trick the human race into thinking they knew where he was, and unintentionally inspiring them to build phone booths to call him on the red planet, as well as create an entir television series chronicling his life. Free to go on his own but unsure of what to do, Jon thought back to the day in his youth in 1936 when he met the kindly couple that told him to make something beautiful when he got older. Jon traveled to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and in ninety seconds time transformed it into a paradise with bountiful foods, endless green plant life, and a self-generating animal species that looked exactly like humans, with no care for anyone but themselves.
To properly begin the process of his new species’ life-cycle, Jon created a male and a female of this species. The males of this species later came to be called Mister Phillips, while the females were known as Ms. Crookshanks. Jon then teleported Cartwithen Castle to this Eden he’d created, in which the new beings could live.
For a time, Jon was happy and fascinated here, watching various Phillipses and Crookshankses tend to his every whim, despite the fact that nothing he did required assistance. However, just as he did with humanity, he had grown bored by 2009, and abandoned them and traveled back to Earth to meet Angela Abar, the woman he fell in love with by seeing the moment in the future when he told her he could not be saved, and she attempted to anyway. They were also destined to be together for many years, and their relationship would be rough at times, but overall beautiful.
When Jon arrived on Earth, specifically, in the state of Vietnam, it was VVN Night, celebrating America's victory of the Vietnam War that Jon himself won them decades earlier. Wearing a suit and standing among the mess of confetti, streamers, and pieces of Doctor Manhattan costumes, Jon picked up a plastic mask of his own face, put it on, and walked into the bar he was meant to meet Angela Abar in. Once inside, he bought her a drink, offered it to her, and asked if she'd have dinner with him the following night. She was at first hesitant, but when he told her she was drinking alone to commemorate the anniversary of her parents' death, something she wouldn't tell him for another twenty minutes, she reluctantly let him sit down.
Jon attempted to convince Angela he was indeed Doctor Manhattan himself, and not just another person dressed as him in celebration. He told her about his paradise on Europa, created an egg that would've given her his power if she consumed it, and told her that she would in fact join him for dinner, and that they would stay together for ten years after a brief falling out in six months' time. While Angela didn't believe him, she did find him rather amusing, sweet, and handsome. Impressed by what she thought was dedication to the part of Manhattan, she accepted his invitation of dinner, beginning their long relationship.
A short time after the initial meeting, Angela figured out that Jon hadn't been joking, and that he really was Doctor Manhattan. Still wanting to pursue the relationship, Angela suggested they disguise him as a human. They snuck into the Saigon PD morgue and brought up a selection of various men with no next of kin to identify them, one of which Jon would take the appearance of to hide in public. Jon was hesitant at first to change his appearance, but eventually he picked a man named Calvin Jelani, and moved in with Angela, which was leading to a fight he told her about in the bar the night they met.
Powers and Abilities
- Nigh-Omnipotence: Jon was caught in a radioactive particle test, which transformed him into a god-like being known as Doctor Manhattan, granting him several powerful abilities.
- Energy Construct Creation
- Energy Projection
- Molecular Reconstruction: Jon could reconstruct molecules and atoms, transforming air into objects like a chicken’s egg.
- Metamorphosis: Jon could alter his appearance to look like any regular human being he desired.
- Reality Alteration
- Teleportation: Jon was able to teleport himself and others anywhere he pleased.
- Size Alteration: Jon could grow to incredible heights at will.
- Power Distribution
- Precognition: Jon perceived all time simultaneously, witnessing all at once his memories of the past, what is happening to him in the present, and what will happen to him in the future. He was a slave to the timeline his entire, however, and could not alter any events that transpire, only watch them play out.
- This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the television series Watchmen and is an adaptation of Doctor Manhattan. The original character was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and first appeared in Watchmen #1.
- Doctor Manhattan was portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. In flashbacks prior to his transformation into Cal Abar, he was portrayed by Darrell Snedeger as an adult and Zak Rothera-Oxley as a child.
- 11 Appearances of Jonathan Osterman (Watchmen TV Series)
- 38 Images featuring Jonathan Osterman (Watchmen TV Series)
- 3 Quotations by or about Jonathan Osterman (Watchmen TV Series)
- Character Gallery: Jonathan Osterman (Watchmen TV Series)