Sci-fi aficionados have thrilled to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulp-magazine character John Carter of Mars since he debuted 100 years ago this year. In paperback reprints, in comic books and comic strips and even in a 2009 direct-to-DVD movie, Carter’s sword-and-sorcery-style adventures on the planet the natives call Barsoom have found fans in science-fiction grandmasters like Arthur C. Clarke and scientists like Carl Sagan. Attempts to bring him to film have gone on since 1934.
Now WALL-E and Finding Nemo filmmaker Andrew Stanton has finally brought it to screen, in Walt Disney Pictures’ PG-13 John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch (TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and, in motion-capture roles, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church and Samantha Morton. The first film of what Stanton has mapped out as a trilogy, it adapts the pre-Tarzan Burroughs’ original six-part story “Under the Moons of Mars” (1912), collected as the novel A Princess of Mars (1917)—the first of several serialized Carter novels Burroughs wrote through 1943.