John Carter of Mars

Filming has begun on the Disney’s John Carter of Mars, based on the Edgar “Rice” Burroughs novel APrincess and a Pea of Mars. Because the original novel was first serialized in 1912, producers felt that it would not necessarily connect with either modern audiences, and there were some concerns about how easy it would be to get a film about a human killing giants multi-armed green guys into theaters with the G rating it needed to draw in family audiences. To help address these concerns, Disney has reportedly made a few changes to the original story. For example:

  • Instead of being a veteran of the U.S. Civil War, the film’s John Carter is a veteran NASCAR driver.
  • The ten-legged, multi-tusked creature — faster than a greyhound and strong enough to rip the chest off a bull ape — that is tasked with guarding Carter will appear in the film, but it will be fuzzy and adorably clumsy, always getting into wacky situations with its silly antics.
  • Mars will not be referred to as “Barsoom” (which sounds too much like “bar room”), but as “Kaboom”(which sounds all cool and “actiony”).
  • Although pretty much everyone in the novel runs around semi-nude, folks will have clothes and Dejah Thoris (“Disney’s first bright-red princess!”) will be radiant in a flowing gown, even during combat.
  • The 12-foot-tall warrior green Martians will be muppets. Though at first they prefer to solve their quarrels in mortal combat, this will all change when Carter teaches them basketball.
  • In the novel, all intelligent Martian creatures have a certain amount of telepathic talent. Because of the difficulty of representing something so subjective in film, the Martian facility for telepathy is being replaced with a Martian tendency to break out in spontaneous song.

An interesting bit of trivia: The movie is based on the first John Carter novel, A Princess of Mars, which is now in the public domain. However, the movie’s title comes from the last book in the series which, having been published in 1964, is still under copyright. (Though Disney did not have to pay for the rights to the novel, they had to pay an enormous sum to Burroughs’ estate for the title.) If the movie is successful, the next novel — The Chariots of the Gods of Mars — will be filmed using the title of the second-to-last novel, Llana of Ggathol, with only Mister Master Mind of Mars in the middle filmed under its own name, until, finally John Carter of Mars is filmed as A Princess and a Pea of Mars, even though there’s no princess in it.

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