Men are from Mars

In 1912, the first novel of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “John Carter” series was published. Though perhaps not as well-known as Burroughs’s other creation Tarzan, John Carter would go on to influence generations of scientists and science-fiction authors. Plans for a film adaptation of the series have been in existence since 1931, but until recently, they have always fallen through.

On the centennial anniversary of the character’s inception, the literary hero finally comes to life on the big screen when Walt Disney Pictures releases the movie “John Carter” on March 9. Based on the first book, the film follows former Confederate Capt. John Carter after he is mysteriously transported to Mars, as he tries to rescue its inhabitants from extinction.

For director Andrew Stanton, helming “John Carter” was a childhood dream-come-true. “I’m probably one of the more rabid fans,” Stanton said in a recent conference call interview. “I’ve read the books my whole life and wanted to see them [on screen].” Directing the movie gave him the opportunity to capture his vision of the character on film, Stanton said.

Taylor Kitsch, who plays the titular hero, said he was attracted to the role because it gave him the chance to play a character who has “lost his cause” in life, but finds new meaning under extraordinary circumstances.

“I don’t see it as an action role,” Kitsch said. “If it didn’t have that emotional arc, I wouldn’t have done it.

“Of course, the action is going to be insane,” Kitsch added.

But all that action takes a toll on the actor. “I think I was battling exhaustion throughout,” Kitsch said. “You’re on bended knees at times not even able to walk on set, you’re so exhausted.”

Because of that hard work, the biggest accomplishment in making “John Carter” was just being able to say he got through it, Kitsch said.

As for the future of the “John Carter” franchise, Stanton said that sequels may be imminent. “We actually got the rights to the first three books and we planned all three movies together,” Stanton said. “But I also hated movies that had these unnecessary cliffhangers … So we made sure each movie finished in a satisfying way when we wrote them.”

With the release of “John Carter,” a new generation of fans will be introduced to the century-old character. Perhaps Carter’s popularity will now equal that of Tarzan.

Sean Quinn can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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