Remember comics in the late 80s? I do. The effects of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns on comic books was a negative one. I believe the term "grim and gritty" is an apt description of the majority of the superhero comics that followed. Everything seemed to get darker and more violent, especially the traditionally happier DC Comics. Green Arrow was re-imagined by Mike Grell to be an urban hunter who stuck sharp, pointy arrows into people. Blackhawk was recreated by Howard Chaykin in a more adult manner. The Question was remade with adult themes (I liked this one, but I'm sure that many fans of the original character were upset). Batman's new Robin changed overnight from a circus orphan into a street thug who ended up killing bad guys and was beaten to death by the Joker. It wasn't a fun time. Some of us call that time the Dark Ages.
Recently, the movie studios have been discussing making the Superman franchise darker based on the financial success of Dark Knight. With the theatrical release of Watchmen, I was seeing the future of superhero movies going in a bad direction, just like comics had 22 years before, following Dark Knight and Watchmen. There was actually a rumor that Marvel was considering a darker Fantastic Four, for goodness sake! So, it's actually a relief seeing Watchmen fall a little flat at the box office. Maybe, just maybe, we won't see history repeat itself!