Hollywood was just starting to wake up to the true potential of comic book adaptations in the early 2000’s, with Fox and Sony finding veritable gold mines in their X-Men and Spider-Man franchises. Suddenly, every comic that sold in any quantity was being optioned for the big screen. One of the earlier adaptations was V for Vendetta, which published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics in the 1980’s.
“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”
There is something staggeringly haunting about watching 2005’s V for Vendetta in today’s political climate. At the time that the movie was released, the Wachowski’s and director James McTeigue appeared to be weaving a cautionary tale about the appeal of fascism and nationalism, and how the moneyed elites of a culture could use fear to help a frightened populace to abandon their better angels.
Flash forward 14 years, and V for Vendetta feels, in many ways, more reflection than warning. We have seen the dystopian future, for we wake to it every single day.
V for Vendetta is very much cut from the same cloth as George Orwell’s 1984, with the population of England living under an oppressive regime that they have become too passive to resist. They know something is wrong, but the government, led by John Hurt’s terrifying Chancellor Adam Sutler, saved the country from terrorist attacks from Muslims, radicalized protesters, biological warfare, and the influence of a United States that is tearing itself apart after decades of a disastrous war.
The fact that this same government fabricated those attacks against its own people is unknown to all save V (Hugo Weaving), a sinister, enigmatic agitator who attacks the party elite with little more than quick wit, martial prowess, and a Guy Fawkes mask.
Early in the film, V rescues Evey (Natalie Portman) from a gang of cops who have more than policing on their minds. Soon, she becomes his fast confidant and co-conspirator, and V sets out to topple the fascist regime that has taken hold of the country.
“People should not be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of their people.”
“One thing is true of all governments – their most reliable records are tax records.”
“Words will always retain their power. Words are the means to meaning, and for those who listen, the enunciation of truth, and the truth is there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?”