After 100 hundred years, John Carter finally has his own major movie.
The science-fiction fantasy adventure “John Carter” opens Friday, a century – plus one month – after Carter’s first swashbuckling Mars adventure, “Under the Moons of Mars,” began serialization in a fiction magazine in February 1912. It was renamed “A Princess of Mars” for book publication and is still in print.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “Wall-E”), John Carter begins in Arizona in the late 19th century but soon flashes to Mars, where Carter (Taylor Kitsch of TV’s “FridayNight Lights“) fights his way through several Martian cities and races – humanoid and otherwise – for the love of his “incomparable” Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), princess of the city-state of Helium.
“?’John Carter’ is a big, epic, sci-fi action-adventure with romance and action and political intrigue,” director Stanton said in a promotional interview. “An adventure story (that) became a whole genre of its own. It’s been either literally ripped off or an inspiration for (other stories) for 100 years.”
Carter was the first creation of one of the most prolific and successful writers of the 20th century, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs’ second hero, created later that same year, was Tarzan. Carter has inspired countless heroes, including Buck Rogers, Superman, the Highlander and Han Solo.
Morally straight and emotionally and mentally uncomplicated, he was a skilled warrior on Earth. On Mars, the lower gravity gives him almost superhuman strength and leaping skill. He is shy and courtly with women but thrills to sword battles that last for hours against 100-to-1 odds.
Carter is a man who never ages. He is teleported to Mars by thought or perhaps sheer will power. (The movie gives him a magical device to help.) He leaves Earth in 1866 and arrives on a Mars that is dying from sort of a million-year global warming but also boasts giant cities and fabulous future inventions.