I always have a hard time convincing students that the violence in Watchmen is categorically different from the chompurfzung violence traditionally featured in comics. Dave Gibbons draws Watchmen in the same style he used in a previous collaboration with Alan Moore ("For the Man Who Has Everything") to depict Wonder Woman thrutching Mongul:
Although there might be an implied low blow in that panel, the thrust of the violence clearly moves from her fist to his face. Compare that to what Lori does to a street thug in Watchmen:
Gibbons and Moore let you know that Lori's the sort of hero who castrates men with her bare hands. There's no incidental knee to the groin here as there was in the Wonder Woman panel: Lori grabs the thug by the balls and yanks. The creases in the thug's shirt do the work that the speed lines do for Wonder Woman. (Much like the blood in these panels.) The absence of speed lines creates the impression of a quiet violence that persists even as the palette shifts from the browns and yellows of the first panel to all shades of pain in second. Yet because Wonder Woman and Lori are both cartoons, on first read students think these very different violences more similar than not.
And did I mention Lori enjoys doing this? Compare her face to Dan's when they each realize what's about to happen:
They know the thugs stand no chance. They know they could dispatch them with ease. Yet Lori still fights dirty. She's the tenth-grader who picks fights with fourth-graders and goes for the eyes. In this respect, the gratuitous violence in Snyder's film actually corresponds to what we have in the book—and what we have in the book is a portrait of the hero as a sadistic bully.