‘John Carter’ Fun Facts and Official Character Descriptions (Minor Spoilers)
THE EARTHMEN (From the planet Earth of the late 1800s — light years from Barsoom, a.k.a. Mars)
JOHN CARTER (Taylor Kitsch) – -“No good’ll come out of me fightin’ your war.” — Born in Virginia, John Carter served as an officer in the Confederate army in the Civil War. He is an honorable and courageous hero, but the ravages of the Civil War have left him broken, dispirited and personally defeated. Accidentally transported to Barsoom (Mars), Carter begins to realize that his strength and jumping abilities are greatly amplified in the low gravity of the planet. Carter reluctantly begins a journey to rediscover his humanity while at the same time saving his newfound world.
COLONEL POWELL (Bryan Cranston) — “Captain, I’m finding it difficult to reconcile the man on this piece of paper with the one I’m looking at.” — Colonel Powell is a seasoned, by-the-book, tough-as-nails U.S. cavalry officer. Powell’s mission is to enlist John Carter to fight the Apaches from his unit’s outpost in the Arizona Territory. He is thwarted in this by John Carter’s abject refusal to have anything to do with the military—or any cause, no matter how just.
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS (Daryl Sabara) — “My mother always said Jack never really came back from the war.” — Edgar Rice Burroughs is John Carter’s inquisitive 18-year-old nephew. Edgar adores his Uncle John and as a child enjoyed listening to wild tales he spun that took him on journeys to places Edgar could hardly even imagine. Burroughs receives an urgent telegram from his Uncle and rushes to him — only to find it may be too late.
THE INHABITANTS OF BARSOOM
Mars or Barsoom, as it is called by the natives of the planet, is home to a host of different races, ranging from the “Red Men:” the sophisticated Heliumites and war-like Zodangans, to the tribal, primitive “Green Men,” the Tharks, and the mysterious, advanced Therns.
HELIUMITES – Human-like, red-tattooed inhabitants of the city of Helium characterized by their sophisticated and conservationist policies. They proudly wave the blue flag that symbolizes their nation, and their longing for the oceans long gone.
DEJAH THORIS (Lynn Collins) — “If you had the means to save others, would you not take any action possible to make it so?” — Dejah Thoris, the beautiful, raven-haired princess of Helium, is a passionate advocate for the Heliumites and their way of life. Dejah is Regent of the Royal Academy of Science, and was trained to rule and fight. She is on the verge of a discovery that could permanently shift the balance of power between her nation Helium and their enemy Zodanga. But time is running out, and Dejah must convince John Carter to enlist in the fight to save Helium.
TARDOS MORS (Ciaran Hinds) — “Helium is lost. My people. I have failed them all.” — Tardos Mors is the Jeddak (King) of Helium and father to Dejah Thoris. He is a tough and pragmatic ruler, who is forced to find a solution to save his beloved Helium—even if it means breaking his heart and Dejah’s to do it.
KANTOS KAN (James Purefoy) — “Hello, ladies.” — Kantos Kan is the Odwar (Captain) of the Helium air navy and is fiercely loyal to Tardos Mors and his daughter, Dejah Thoris. Intelligent, handsome and brave, Kantos will do anything in his power to fight for Helium and protect the royal family.
ZODANGANS – Human-like, red-tattooed inhabitants of Zodanga; war-like, manipulative and exploitive and always on the move—a predator race. They are represented by a bold red flag that symbolizes their aggressive and destructive nature.
SAB THAN (Dominic West) — “Death to Helium!” — Sab Than is the Jeddak (King) of Zodanga. He is impulsive, arrogant and aggressive, promoting war and conquest as the Zodangan way of life. With a dangerously calculated charm, Sab will even try to make a deal with the devil to destroy Helium and rule all of Barsoom.
THERNS – In the religion of Barsoom, Therns are the heralds of the Goddess Issus. In fact, they are an inconspicuous race and Barsoom’s most highly advanced beings, whose motives are always self-serving.
MATAI SHANG (Mark Strong) — “We do not cause the destruction of a world, Captain Carter. We simply manage it. Feed off it, if you like.” — Matai Shang is the Holy Hekkador (King) of the Therns. Using their advanced technology, the mysterious Therns represent themselves as the messengers of the Barsoomian Goddess Issus in order to manipulate their own plans.
THARKS - The “Green Men” of Barsoom. Tusked, 9-10 foot tall, four-armed creatures, who are tribal and primitive. Historically a once great race but now nomadic and dispersed; their survival-of–the fittest beliefs often fuel their aggressive, combative behavior.
TARS TARKAS (Willem Dafoe) — “When I saw you leap into the sky, I wished to believe it was a sign that something new can come into this world.” — Tars Tarkas is a fierce green Martian warrior who is the Jeddak (King) of the Tharks. The last vestige of nobility runs in his blood and is the only thing that keeps the Thark tribe from turning into beasts. Blessed with a good sense of humor and patience, Tars befriends the earthman John Carter and gives him the Thark name Dotar Sojat, which roughly translates as “my right arms.”
TAL HAJUS (Thomas Haden Church) — “I claim the right of challenge! Who will pledge their metal to mine?” — Tal Hajus would like nothing better than to become the leader of the Tharks and depose Tars Tarkas by force. He is a brutal and conniving Thark warrior, with a single-minded belief that only the strong have the right to survive.
SOLA (Samantha Morton) — “May the Goddess find me worthy.” — Sola is a caring and nurturing Thark, which makes her a pariah in the cruel Thark society. She is often at odds with the Thark way of life because she thinks with her heart, not her head. She is the runt of the litter and is given the responsibility of stewarding John Carter after he is adopted by the tribe.
SARKOJA (Polly Walker) — “Sola can take the little white worm.” — Sarkoja is the ideal Thark; calculating, cold and cruel. Like Tal Hajus, she believes that only the strong should survive, and she has survived a long time. She targets Sola at every opportunity for she has no patience with Sola’s humanity, which she perceives as weakness.
WOOLA — “Woola would find you anywhere on barsoom,” sola to john carter — Woola is a Calot, a large, lizard-like dog, that takes John Carter as his master. Calots are incredibly fast with 10 legs and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Woola is fiercely protective of Carter for he is the first person to ever come to his rescue.
‘JOHN CARTER’ FUN FACTS
- ‘John Carter’ is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars. An American writer, Burroughs was born in Chicago and is best known for writing and creating Tarzan — still one of the most successful and iconic fictional creations of all time.
- 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the character John Carter, the original space hero featured in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. Heroic John Carter has thrilled generations with his adventures on Mars.
- Since 1935, various filmmakers have attempted to make a movie based on A Princess of Mars — the first was intended to be an animated feature film by Bob Clampett of ‘Beany and Cecil’ fame. If it had been made, it would have been America’s first full-length animated film, prior to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which premiered in 1937.
- A fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series of books since childhood, Director/Writer Andrew Stanton says he was inspired to bring John Carter to the big screen—in his first foray into live action—because he had always been attracted to the concept of a human finding himself on Mars, among the creatures of a strange new world.
- John Carter screenwriters Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon discovered they had something in common when they met: they all still possessed the John Carter drawings and artwork that they had done when they were boys.
- Filming of John Carter began in the UK on January 4, 2010. The bulk of the movie’s stage work (along with exterior sequences set on Earth) was filmed at Shepperton Studios, London and Longcross Studios in Chelburn, over a four-month period. Then production moved to Utah for an additional 12 weeks of shooting, with locations in Moab, Lake Powell, the Delta salt flats, Hanksville (where the US space agency, NASA, has tested robotic vehicles), and Big Water—a vast mesa of granulated shale and sandstone set before a towering ring of red cliffs that border the Grand Staircase National Monument.
- On Saturday, June 5, 2010, crewmembers, working on location in Utah, found a large bone protruding from the ground. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed it was in fact a Sauropod bone — either a femur or scapula — from a dinosaur that could have been 60 feet in length. An excavation is currently taking place to retrieve the rest of the prehistoric skeleton discovered by the John Carter crew.
- Battling the extreme conditions of the desert, the film unit worked in temperatures in excess of 120 degrees in Hanksville, Utah, and consumed over 360 gallons of water per day.
- Lake Powell, Utah, the location used for the River of Iss in the film, is over 180 miles in length and has over 2,000 miles of shoreline — more than the whole of the west coast of America.
- For the battle scenes between the Zodangans and the Heliumites, over 1000 extras were given a professional, if slightly darker than average, St. Tropez fake tan.
- The Ancient Barsoomian typography carved into the walls of the sacred temples in John Carter took their original design from actual markings found on the surface of the planet Mars.
- Working from the original source material, a linguist was hired to create the entire Thark Martian language, using just a few words mentioned in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels.
- The actors playing the nine-foot tall, green Thark characters had to learn to walk on stilts to film the scenes with John Carter, giving the correct eye-line contact for the dialogue.
- Over 120,000 Swarovski crystals were used in Dejah Thoris’ Zodangan wedding outfit, including her dress, the train, crown and cuffs, and each stone was applied by hand one by one.
- Stunt Coordinator Tom Struthers was delighted and amazed that Taylor Kitsch did 98% of his own stunt work, including an 85-foot jump in the learning-to-walk sequence, a 65-foot jump in the arena, battling the ferocious white apes, and a 250- foot long series of jumps in the Martian wilderness.
- Cinema audiences will be astonished to see actress Lynn Collins, when not donning her Dejah Thoris look, has strawberry blonde hair and fair skin.
- The approximate number of costumes designed by Mayes C. Rubeo for the film was 1,800.
- 383 yards of material were used for just one of Matai Shang’s silver Thern robes and the robe took approximately 250 man-hours to make by hand.
- While filming in Utah, the film crew came across a small space center called the Mars Society Desert Research Station. No one was home but the Website reads: “Teams of hard-working volunteers, working in full simulation mode in the barren canyon lands of Utah, continue to explore the surrounding terrain, cataloging more waypoints, and analyzing the geology and biology of this fascinating and remarkably Mars-like region.”