Geek Speak – I am Stupid Excited to See John Carter
Disney’s John Carter opens this weekend, and like someone on their last day of house arrest, I cannot wait. I am a big fan of the original novels—there are eleven novels set in the John Carter universe, and the first was published all the way back in 1917, which makes John Carter slightly younger than Maggie Smith. If you enjoy action-packed sci-fi adventures, look no further. Edgar Rice Burroughs helped spark pulp fiction with his John Carter and Tarzan stories (among others).
If you are in the dark about the film and the character, I wrote a John Carter Cheat Sheet for Cinema Solider. I tried to keep it fairly spoiler free, so give it a read.
I think the age and influence of the John Carter character (and universe) is something that was left out Disney’s marketing. The guy is pretty much a proto-Superman (who was created about 24 years later): after traveling to a different planet, John Carter finds out he has superhuman abilities—just like Superman on Earth. The desert-like setting, and population of Mars in the novel (called Barsoom by the locals) is very similar to Tatooine in Star Wars.
Heck, even Avatar draws from the John Carter waters—both are about human guys on an alien planet, who get absorbed into the society/culture, and help the locals. On Earth, John Carter is an average man, similar to Jake Sully (who also can’t walk). But, put the pair in their respective alien worlds, and their bodies change (in Sully’s case, he actually takes over an entirely new body).
I didn’t point out the above comparisons as a‘Hey! All these things ripped John Carter off! For shame!” No, that is a silly argument. I did so to show the influence the character, and novels, have had since 1917, either directly or indirectly.
I’ll end with this final blurb from my Cinema Soldier post, because the info below should be all the convincing you need:
There is a lot of talent behind the camera, too: Pixar is doing the digital effects; Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) is directing; and the screenplay was written by Mark Andrews (head of story for The Incredibles) and Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Gentlemen of the Road, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union). There is a lot of potential here, despite how lackluster the marketing has been.