A Short History of Dejah Thoris, Warrior Princess, by Eric Holland

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Editor’s note:  JCF is pleased to welcome a new contributor, Eric Holland.  Eric has created in depth online databases at www.barsoom.wikia.com and johncarter.wikia.com, and has also contributed to recovering the old John Carter comics printed in “the funnies” anthologies.  In this article he traces the history of the depiction of Dejah Thoris as a “warrior-like” princess–doing so at a time when there is considerable debate about the depiction of Dejah Thoris as a “Warrior Princess” in Disney’s John Carter, with Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, directed by Andrew Stanton.

Dejah Thoris – The Warrior?

by Eric Holland

Here I have collected a timeline of the various depictions of Dejah Thoris as a warrior!

February 1912: A princess of mars first sees the light of day, while Dejah Thoris is not depicted as a warrior, she is depicted as a strong willed woman willing to stand up for what she believes. And it is important to note, that this book goes out of its way to explain that all martian women carry at least a dagger!

August 1940: The funnies Issue #46 contains a story adapting a princess of mars, Dejah Thoris defends herself during her wedding by pulling out a gun and shooting someone! (a gun not provided by anyone, but she brought herself. Keep in mind this series was drawn and likely written by John Coleman Burroughs, and thus was likely approved by Edgar Rice burroughs

September 1940: The funnies issue #47, Dejah Thoris pulls out a gun and saves John Carters life!

December 1975: DC comics Tarzan family issue #60 depicts the world of barsoom and its people in the most inaccurate way imaginable. This comic depicts Thorjah, the daughter of Mars Kujak as a woman fighting for the right to be a warrior. Although a poor adaption it is clear who these people are meant to be!

July 1978: Marvels John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Issue #14 is released. It is important to know that this series is one of the most beloved and well-remembered things associated with Burroughs barsoom. In this issue Dejah Thoris fights skeletons with a sword

September 1978: Dejah Thoris fights an assassin woman in Issue #16 teenage boys are enthralled by this fight, John Carter is thought to be dead and Dejah Thoris goes off to avenge this death! (He isn’t dead btw)

Early (unknown) 1979: Warlord of Mars Annual #3 is published by marvel, lots of Dejah Thoris butt kicking to be found!

April 1979: issue #23 of marvels series, Dejah Thoris disguised as a member of the guild of assassins beats up john carter, and later in another fight a bunch of other warrior women!

May 1979: issue #24, dejah thoris fights tars tarkas and a bunch of other guys

August 1979: Issue #26 Dejah Thoris shoots a lot of guys, throws sword at one guy, stabs some more

April 1996: Dejah Thoris points a gun at tarzans head in Tarzans/John Carter warlords of mars 2

May 1996:Dejah Thoris still pointing gun at tarzans head in the next issue

June 1996:Dejah Thoris beats up the master assassin of zodanga, as depicted by the awesome cover art

2009: Asylums “A Princess of Mars” she stabs a bug, all fans of the books who have watched this movie enter a catatonic state for three weeks

March 2011: Dynamite Comics begins an ongoing series with Dejah Thoris as the protagonist, showing her with warrior characteristics almost every issue

October 2011: The movie prequel comic is released, Dejah Thoris is depicted as a warrior and a scientist, but her warrior aspects are not over the top and she only manages to kill a few calots throughout the entire series!

March 9 2012: Fans are outraged at the Disney film portraying Dejah Thoris as having warrior characteristics (how dare she defend herself at her wedding), because she has literally never been portrayed as a warrior before!



  • I also thought it was interesting to note, that the first appearence of Dejah Thoris picking up arms and defending herself was . . . At her wedding, like she does in the movie.

    And that was a Burroughs-approved work!

  • hawkman clone?!?!?! This proves you know nothing of the hawkman!

    Also, other women have swooned of Carter in the books.

    You b**tched about the wrong things, you should have b**tched about the implication that Carthoris was the result of rape by said hawkmen, one of the unfortunate results of writers trying to make the series scientifically accurate.

    The point of this article was to show that in the many attempts to modernize Dejah . . . there is often the same thought process

  • Considering that it’s almost certain that the comics were an influence on Stanton’s film, I find this history insightful.

  • Bob said
    “Okay guys, I’m getting something of interest and early this afternoon. I will post in the morning my impressions of the extras and the video quality.”

    You got The Vow! >:D

  • Okay guys, I’m getting something of interest and early this afternoon. I will post in the morning my impressions of the extras and the video quality.

  • I agree with Pascalahad-the comics are not official canon. Some of them are fun but I consider them more fan fiction. Besides am I the only one who remembers that Dejah also willing gave herself to a Hawkman clone in the old Marvel series? Or that John Carter became a horndog for a group of Amazons who bewitch him? I guess the reason Stanton finds ERB’s John Carter vanilla was because he wasn’t boinking other women.

  • I fail to see the point of this article. As far as I know, only the novels are considered canon, with one possible exception. Still, let’s consider the matter:

    My point (and many posters’ I think) in criticizing the idea of Dejah as “warrior princess” is not that she is one, but that she is ANOTHER one. This has become such a cliché in modern-day Hollywood that it’s laughable, as if the only way to show a strong woman nowadays was to give her weapons.

    I can buy the idea of a fighting woman with guns (Leia), even, let’s stretch it, with fencing weapons (Catherine Zeta Jones in the Mask of Zorro). But more often than not they are pictured fighting with weapons dependent on strength rather than agility. And not only are they good with them, they are better than 99% of the men they fight, men that are supposed to be professional soldiers.

    That being said, Lynn Collins pulls off the part better than most warrior princesses on screen, she’s actually great in the movie and convincing. That doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a cliché.

    There is this scene in Warlord of Mars when at one point John Carter thinks that Dejah picked a sword and joined the fight. He wasn’t suprised because even if it is rare, it was not unheard of that martian women sometimes participate in fights, even without formal training.

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