The Watcher: Who is Marvel’s Mysterious Observer?

Watcher of the Skies

Uatu:Being of an immortal race, I have ever pondered what, if anything, comes after the event mortals call ‘“death”. Today, I may well learn. Whatever transpires, I will remain true to my charge and observe all that occurs. A fitting end, I think, for the being known as… The Watcher.”

X-Men #203

A man walks through a gleaming citadel. He passes countless pieces of advanced technology until he reaches a balcony. He takes a moment to look at the lunar surface before casting his gaze upon a blue planet called Earth. Events two hundred thousand miles away may as well happen right next to the man as he stands vigil.

Mighty dinosaurs roam the land before perishing in an ice age. Intelligent apes become the dominant lifeform and create vast civilizations. Countless atrocities meet the man’s eyes, but he also sees love, kindness, and beauty. Technology advances by leaps and bounds. As the humans build atomic weapons and spaceships, The Watcher realizes it is time to stop hiding.

The Watcher is one of Marvel’s most mysterious characters. He has watched the Earth for millennia and appears whenever something important is about to happen. So who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he so intent on observing the Earth? Let’s find out.

First Watch: The Watcher’s Backstory

Uatu:I am The Watcher. I observe and record. I do not interfere.

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #13

The Watcher debuted in The Fantastic Four #13 in 1963. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Uatu was a member of an immortal alien race. His father, Ikor, convinced the rest of their species to uplift less developed aliens. As an experiment, they gave the technology to harness nuclear power to a young race. Unfortunately, the youngsters used the new tech to create atomic bombs and wiped out their civilization.

Ikor was horrified by the slaughter and decreed that their race would never interfere with alien life again. They would only observe and record as The Watchers. Uatu disagreed with his father and began searching the multiverse to find a world where the uplift succeeded.

Uatu was assigned to watch Earth. As millennia passed, he grew fond of humanity. A few space travelers found him, but agreed to keep his existence a secret. The Watcher would not fully reveal himself to humanity until he had to break up a fight between the Fantastic Four and the Red Ghost on the moon.

Original Sin: The Watcher’s History

The Watcher: That electric pulse you sense more and more consistently? The pulse that seemed to be completely random at first, but now registers with every cycle? It is what the humans call a conscience. It is what recognizes and differentiates good from evil. It took me centuries to finally figure out what it was. It took me even longer to realize that the best thing to do was simply heed it. What will you do with free will?

Eternals Vol.4 #9

The Watcher began pushing the limits of his non-interference vow. He warned the Fantastic Four about several threats and even allowed Mr. Fantastic to borrow an advanced weapon when an army of villains attacked his wedding. The Watcher nearly broke his vow by traveling to Earth and helping the Fantastic Four stop the world-eater Galactus.

The Watcher’s luck finally ran out when he interfered in one of Captain Marvel’s fights. Uatu’s fellow Watchers put him on trial for his multiple breaches, but were convinced to let him go as long as he agreed to never interfere again.

Uatu agreed to the deal, but found a loophole. He couldn’t help his friends, but he could observe from up close. The heroes quickly realized that his presence was a tacit warning that something important was about to happen. Best of all, he never said or did anything, so his fellow Watchers couldn’t stop him.

Things changed when one of The Watcher’s eyes was stolen and several secrets were transferred to random people. The Watcher refused to identify the thief and was murdered by Nick Fury, whose secrets were among those exposed. The Watcher’s siblings punished Fury by transforming him into a being called The Unseen and forcing him to take Uatu’s place.

Uatu was recently resurrected in the event Empyre. Readers learned that his siblings had fused his body to The Unseen, allowing him to heal and revive. The Watcher then freed Fury from his role and made him his agent, warning Fury that the “First War” is coming.

Watch Out: The Watcher’s Powers and Personality

The Watcher:There is an infinite number of variables in the multiverse where destiny has taken unexpected turns. Come, and I shall show you four more…

What If? Vol. 2 #11

The Watcher may not interfere, but he’s strong enough to ensure no one tries to make him. He is an extremely powerful psychic, can fly, create force fields, transform into energy, and time travel. Writers have claimed that his powers are on par with Odin, Zeus, and Galactus.

The Watcher’s most useful power is his cosmic sense. He is able to simultaneously observe multiple points in the solar system. When paired with his time travel, he can go anywhere to deliver a warning. He also has several tools of advanced technology to help watch over the universe.

Uatu is one of the few Watchers to disagree with the non-interference vow. He cares for humanity and will do almost anything to help them, sometimes even disguising himself to offer advice and counsel. Uatu enjoys exploring the multiverse and has hosted several series where he shows off different universes.

The Actors Who Play The Watcher

Paul Frees – Fantastic Four (1967)
Alan Oppenheimer – Fantastic Four (1994)
Denis Akiyama – Silver Surfer: the Animated Series
Dave Boat – The Super Hero Squad Show
Tom Root – Robot Chicken
Clancy Brown – Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Jeffrey Wright – What If?

Didya Get All That

Marvel’s Greek chorus.

Image: The Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+ (c) Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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