The Title Of John Carter And Why It Has Everything To Do With Gender And Money In Hollywood

If we got angry about this kind of thing we'd be angry all the time
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Have you heard of that movie John Carter? Sounds pretty boring, right? I mean, what’s it even about? Some guy named John Carter? Ok, I’m being obtuse for effect, I know what John Carter is but the evolution the film’s title has made just got a little more awful. Writer/director Andrew Stanton recently discussed why the film, based on the novel A Princess of Mars, lost the “Princess” and the “Mars.” Hint: it has to do with us fickle little girls. 

Stanton spoke in London last month at a small preview of the new Walt Disney distributed film,  John Carter. Take a deep breath before you read this. “Here’s the real truth of it,” he said of the film’s title, “I’d already changed it from A Princess Of Mars to John Carter Of Mars. I don’t like to get fixated on it, but I changed Princess Of Mars…because not a single boy would go.”

But, wait! There’s more!

Stanton added, “And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see John Carter Of Mars. So I said, ‘I don’t won’t to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can’t ignore that truth.'”

Here’s a truth I can’t ignore – Hollywood are stuck in the Dark Ages, where boys and girls are concerned. I understand them not wanting to take risks but this is just plain ridiculous. I may not like or agree with the Princess part but since when do women not like movies set in space?

This all may be true of Hollywood but it’s still incredibly depressing to hear Stanton saying it. He’s the writer of several of Pixar’s biggest hits like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and WALL-E which are for everyone. John Carter is based on the first in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series and while A Princess of Mars is not actually about a Princess of Mars (though it does have on in the plot), it’s still the title and takes place on the red planet. How does it make sense to take one of the biggest aspects of the film out of the title and leave just a simple name for audiences to make sense of?

“All the time we were making this big character story which just so happens to be in this big, spectacular new environment,” said Stanton. “But it’s not about the spectacle, it’s about the investment. I thought, I’ve really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter. So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s John CarterMars is going to stick on any other film in the series. But by then, it won’t have a stigma to it.”

Starting off by making hackneyed assumptions about your potential audience? Perhaps not the best way to secure a sequel. Just sayin’.

(via Bleeding Cool)

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."