Should John Carter of Mars Fans Adopt Kal-El as the Warlord’s Literary Offspring?

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It’s well established that Jerry Siegel was influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter when he created Superman. Siegel said:

“Carter was able to leap great distances because the planet Mars was smaller that the planet Earth; and he had great strength. I visualized the planet Krypton as a huge planet, much larger than Earth”. (Andrae, Nemo (online version): “Superman Through the Ages: The Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster Interview, Part 8 of 10” (1983).).

I have to confess I’m increasingly beginning to feel that Man of Steel, due out on June 14, is a worthy subject of attention for fans of ERB and John Carter. I like the way it looks; I like the casting choices; I like what I see so far of the approach that Zack Snyder is taking. I’m starting to root for it, and get excited about it.

Here is my question.

Given that John Carter was the original stimulus for the creation of Superman; and given that we Barsoomophiles don’t exactly have a big deal film to pay attention to (especially so, now that WB has put Tarzan on ice) …… I’m thinking about adopting Man of Steel.

What does that mean?

I’m not sure.

Is it worthy of adoption?

Here are the three trailers, 3,2,1 If you have time, watch them 1,2,3 — but if you’ve only got time for one, watch 3.

Seriously thinking about adopting ol’ Kal-El


  • You can’t leave out “the Scarlet Pimpernel” / “Zorro” / “Batman”, .. The Shadow”? “The Phantom”, Who else? Aren’t they all in the same family? Cousins?

  • Oh, to be sure Carter was an influence on Superman. No question (to be fair, Doc DID have super-strength – for a human). And I realize this is a Burroughs and John Carter-centric website and it’s bad form for me to blather on about another pulp hero. Still, the good doctor gets short shrift a lot of the time, and I can get grumpy…

  • No, I wasn’t trying to imply that we adopt all of those characters. Just an old man rambling away, getting further off topic the more he rambles. Sure, we should adopt Superman. Maybe if we welcome him into the family, he’ll kick in a little cash for “The Gods Of Mars,” or whatever hey decide to call it.


  • No disrespect meant to Doc Savage … he was clearly an influence. But he doesn’t leap tall buildings or have super strength — attributes which Siegel says he derived from John Carter. . . . . . anyway, we’re not trying to say JC was the only influence. But is there enough of a connection to cause John Carter fans to look upon the Last Son of Krypton with a certain affection? I say yes. No one has said no yet . . . .I don’t think you’re saying no, are you? Just wanting to give Doc Savage his due?

  • Well, if we’re going by his super-human abilities, sure. But I would say Doc Savage was an even bigger influence on the dude of steel – and to other super heroes as well. Now, to be fair, Doc had his influences too (Wylie’s “Gladiator” to a degree, plus Holmes and Tarzan and even Lincoln it is said), but when his Fortress of Solitude is patently stolen with no apology…I think the Man of Bronze is owed his due.
    I’m sure Burroughs was a big influence on Supes – and like any red white and blue-blooded boy I have much love for the Man of Steel and John Carter. But let’s not have Carter jump over the good doctor here as the main influence. It ain’t fair.

  • (Continued)

    So, you see, there is valid reason to “adopt” Superman and to even include Batman in the family as well. Of course, ultimately, it becomes a very large family since it would have to include heroes over the last century from Flash Gordon and Otis Adelbert Kline’s Harry Thornton to Luke Skywalker and Jake Scully.

  • For what it’s worth, I read an article once that asserted that Superman was inspired by two pulp fiction heroes. John carter was one, with the obvious similarities, both “strange visitors from another planet,” possessed with “powers and abilities beyond those of mortal man.” The other was Doc Savage, one of the near superhuman characters of the day. Doc and Superman both went by pseudonyms, Doc and Superman, obviously, and both shared the same first name, Clark. Also, while Superman was known as the “man of steel,”his predecessor, Doc Savage, was known as the “man of bronze.” Doc was also linked with another DC character, millionaire crime fighter.. Bruce Wayne. Both men fought crime and injustice with a combination of highly developed physical skills combined with keen scientific knowledge. Batman had his Batmobile, and Doc had his own distinctive supercharged bronze colored automobile. Batman had his utility belt full of gadgets and chemical compounds, and Doc had his utility vest, with multi pockets that server the same function. Another similarity was the fact that both Batman and Doc Savage were inspired to undertake their careers of fighting crime and injustice by the fact that their fathers were both murder victims.

    So, you see, there is valid reason to “adopt” Superman and to even include Batman in the family as well. Of course, ultimately, it becomes a very large family

  • For the soundtrack buffs out there, the pieces of music used in the second trailer are:

    “Elegy”, Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy, from the Immortal Memory album
    “Storm”, Craig Armstrong and A.R. Rahman, from the Elizabeth: The Golden Age soundtrack

    And here is a link to the Hans Zimmer soundtrack isolated on trailer 3:

    And nothing against Zimmer, but this reedit amped my goosebumps factor by a hundred:

  • I always loved Superman. Talk about wish-fulfillment! Flight! Super-strength! Invulnerability! Super-speed!

    There are a lot of common points between Clark Kent and John Carter, their code of honor (even if their views on killing are certainly different), their way of inspiring others, their basic decency and strength of will. One can even wonder if Carter’s powers representation in Andrew Stanton’s movie doesn’t owe more to Superman than to Burroughs. I don’t remember any feat of super-strength in the novels, and the jumping feats are certainly exaggerated (think about it: Carter jumps, yet manages to catch Dejah in midair even if she began to fall AFTER he jumped. He shouldn’t have a way to correct his trajectory after jumping).

    So hopeful about the Zach Snyder movie. Yes for adoption! ?

  • I’m pretty keen on it, it looks like it’s got a heart as well as letting Superman do his thing. Maybe I should wear my Two Moons tshirt when I go . – Jeff

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