This is the first trailer for Disney’s John Carter of Mars, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series, which follows the adventures of the titular Marty Stu John Carter, a Civil War veteran who cannot remember his own past and who is transported inexplicably to the planet of Mars where he finds a couple of vastly different, vibrant, warring civilizations.
No! Wait, don’t go away! I know this is a story you’ve heard a beeeeeellion times before but just let me talk about why I’m kind of excited for John Carter of Mars.
Lord knows pulp fiction isn’t the most culturally sensitive genre to come to popularity. And I don’t mean Tarantino pulp fiction. I mean the cheaply printed, mass produced popular adventure stories that were a huge influence on American comics and Western science fiction, which I think we can all agree that we have enjoyed. They are very much products of their time, full to the brim with pro-colonial, pro-white messages and heroes who are so bursting with manly energy (Oh my god Tarzan, who is better than being an ape than apes and better at being a man then men) that every woman around can’t help but swoon and fall in love with them, even if they are married (The Return of Tarzan) or a different species (multiple counts in A Princess of Mars), and if they don’t immediately succumb to the hero’s magnetism they are clearly evil through and through. Also there are no women anywhere ever who are not in need of being rescued by the hero from some kind of trouble. Unless they don’t like the hero in which case they need to be given their just desserts. Then there’s A Princess of Mars‘ weird conclusion that parents could never love children who are not theirs genetically, creating a race of people whose warlike nature is attributed to having never known paternal love… which might have been easy to assume in the early 1900s but is much less so now.
So yeah, pulp fiction is ridiculous, and it’s old, and it’s so obvious about it’s inherent biases that it’s kind of cute. You can tell a lot about a culture from the kind of heroes that it reveres, because our fictional heroes are the things that we hold up to other cultures and say: “Look: this is what we’d like to be. This is not where we are yet, but we’d like to get there.” And Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ heroes are the kind who fix entire civilizations through good old bravery, honesty, fair play and a significant amount of swashbuckling derring-do, and sometimes that’s just fun to read about. This is why we love Indiana Jones movies and Tintin books. It’s the same kind of stuff.
As I discovered, when I finished reading the free version of The Return of Tarzan, downloaded John Carter of Mars because I’d heard the director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo was making it his first live action feature, and read the very two first paragraphs.
I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever; that some day I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality.
And because of this conviction I have determined to write down the story of the interesting periods of my life and of my death. I cannot explain the phenomena; I can only set down here in the words of an ordinary soldier of fortune a chronicle of the strange events that befell me during the ten years that my dead body lay undiscovered in an Arizona cave.
See! If that doesn’t make you desperately want to read the rest of the story, I don’t know what else I can do. Except ask for more Tars Tarkas in the next trailer. He’s being played by Willem Dafoe.
Still not interested? Well, I tried. At least it’ll be interesting to see if Hollywood flubs it and does the usual hat trick of keeping in all the embarrassingly out of touch themes of the original story while also leaving out all the old-school excitement.
(via Bleeding Cool.)
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