The son of rich German immigrants, Adrian Veidt was raised in America. An intelligent child, he chose to hide his exceptionality, achieving only middling grades. He was nearly thrown out of school at a young age for disabling a bully with freshly learned martial-arts skills, showing his true nature for the first time. At the age of seventeen his parents passed away, leaving him all their money. He donated all of this money to charity, hoping to demonstrate that a person could rise to the very heights of power from the lowliest circumstances, and set off on a pilgrimage that followed in the footsteps of his hero, Alexander the Great. One night, in the depths of Egypt, after consuming a ball of Hashish given to him by a "friend", he hallucinated many pharaohs before him, inspiring his future name; "Ozymandias", an alias of the pharaoh, Rameses II. He returned to America some time later with a new hero, Rameses II, and a desire to make the country a better place. It was in a diner in New York where he met Miranda St. John, his future girlfriend. It would be her death via poor-quality drugs that would inspire Adrian to take to the streets as Ozymandias, a masked crime fighter.
Ozymandias was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. He is a deconstructionist interpretation of the heroic ubermensch archetype, in particular the Charleton superhero Thunderbolt but also such pulp era ubermensch heroes as Doc Savage and The Avenger.
Major Story Arcs
Two years before the passage of the Keene Act, Ozymandias retires from vigilantism, turning instead to business. He reveals his true identity and profits off the marketing of that same identity, growing quite wealthy and developing a massive empire that sells everything from action figures to perfume. Eventually he becomes dedicated to preventing the world from descending into the nuclear war that he sees as otherwise inevitable. To this end he begins gathering scientists, psychologists, artists, psychics, and all manner of other intelligent and powerful people to create a means of holding the countries of the world together. In furtherance of these goals he murders the Comedian (who found out about his plan), and estranges Dr Manhattan from the only people still tethering him to Earth, thereby removing him from the equation. Rorschach and Nite Owl learn of his plans and travel to his lair in Antarctica but find that they are too late, and Ozymandias has already set his master plan into motion. He reveals to the pair that he has created a massive alien-like creature that he intends to teleport into New York. Upon arrival it will create a massive explosion, claiming millions of lives, as well as a psychic backlash that will fully convince the remaining residents that they are under threat from sinister alien forces. This, he believes, will cause the nations of the world to abandon their squabbles and unite against the extraterrestrial threat. The explosion occurs, and all present at the base, excluding Rorschach, agree to keep the plan secret, to prevent the world from plunging again into war.
Sometime after the events of Watchmen, Ozymandias is on the run from the authorities after his role during the New York explosion incident was revealed to the rest of the world. He is seen to be working alongside Rorschach's successor, asking the latter to break a couple, a man named Mime and a woman named Marionette, out of prison. Upon the trio's arrival in Nite Owl's former base where Ozymandias was hiding, He reveals to the other three that they needed to locate Dr Manhattan.
Powers and Abilities
Veidt does not possess any inherent superpowers. He is incredibly intelligent, and has been called "the smartest man in the world". He appears to have exceptional attentional abilities, utilising many televisions playing at the same time in his lair to gain a better understanding of the social climate, and is a shrewd businessman and skilled tactician, managing to both build up a vast empire from nearly nothing, and manipulating even the likes of Dr. Manhattan, a nigh-omniscient demigod. He is at the peak of physical fitness and a very skilled fighter and acrobat (having received extensive training in Kung-Fu, amongst other martial arts) with feats including dodging gunfire by predicting where the bullets shall land, beating both Rorschach and Nite Owl II simultaneously, and catching a bullet fired at him at point-blank range.
Adrian is shown as being pacifistic, with his master plan in Watchmen being to unite the world's superpowers and ensure world peace, and liberal, supporting various causes in India, for instance, and offering his help. He is, however, highly goal-driven, and shows some extremist traits as well, being willing to kill millions of people (and even former colleagues, like Marla, his assistant, or The Comedian), and deceive the world for what he deems is the greater good. He does have a softer side, with Hollis Mason noting his apparently easy-going personality, and great sense of humour, as demonstrated by an interview he has with Nova Express. He is shown to be a vegetarian, and has a good relationship with animals, especially his genetically-engineered Lynx, Bubastis (to whom he apologizes, before killing her in an attempt to destroy Dr. Manhattan). He also has a strong sense of morality, engaging in crime-fighting to protect the innocent, and studying the footage of Kennedy's assassination in an attempt to find the culprit. After his master plan comes to fruition, he shows despair and emotional pain after coming to terms with what he has done.
Ozymandias appears in the role of antagonist in the 2009 film version of the series. He is portrayed by Matthew Goode as more of an arrogant man-child than the chilly ubermensch he had been in the comic book series. His plan is almost identical to his character in the graphic novel, the difference being that his plan entails framing Dr. Manhattan using his energy to trigger explosions across various cities, rather using an engineered monster like he does in the novel.
Ozymandias is portrayed by Jeremy Irons in the HBO Watchmen series.