Andrew Stanton has been talking about his scuttled plans to continue the story of 2012’s John Carter. 

The film story behind 2012’s John Carter continues to be a fascinating look at the previous iteration of Disney, before it  bought Lucasfilm in the same year and became the franchise machine that we recognise today. A decade ago, the studio was still putting out big live action movies like John Carter and The Lone Ranger that were based on existing intellectual property with ‘in-built pre-awareness’ (as the marketing bods like to say). But it wasn’t the ultra-refined version of the studio that exists today, pumping out Marvel and Star Wars but not too much beyond that.

Andrew Stanton’s John Carter movie was perhaps a victim of that sea-change, coming out in the same year that Disney purchased Lucasfilm and signalled its intent towards a new way of doing business. The film wasn’t marketed well, didn’t perform too well at the box office and was infamously given a public ‘write-down’ by Disney, with the company effectively dismissing the film whilst it was still in cinemas. All of this is covered in the excellent book, John Carter and the New Gods of Hollywood. 

Anyway, a decade after Disney effectively washed its hands of the film, director Andrew Stanton has been talking about the direction that future John Carter films would have taken.

Chatting at San Diego Comic Con, Stanton revealed that the next film would have taken place a decade later:

“John Carter was on Earth for 10 years. His wife Dejah had their baby while he was gone, gets kidnapped by the villain Matai Shang. Carter arrives back on Mars to discover Dejah has gone back down the river, convinced it will lead her to the Thurns and their stolen child. Carter reunites with Tars Tarkas, Willem Dafoe’s character, they follow her down the river when they discover an underground city with complete modern technology run by a race called the Firstborn. And they’re technologically advanced beyond here or Mars. And they’ve been managing the planets existence since the beginning: water, air, food, plants that eat you. And they’re also zealots that worship the Goddess Isis who exists in person. But this Goddess is actually our shapeshifting villain Matai Shang — that’s his day job.”

Stanton also went on to reveal that he’d planned the story for a third film too, where “Carter returns to Mars but keeps his existence a secret and while the threat of the World War rises on, him his wife and his son with their one surviving Thurn detector prototype go up to the top of the world following the Thurn trail where he finally faces off with our villain Matai Shang. And of course, as you would expect, he stops the Thurns, saves the planet and is given the official title Warlord of Mars.”

Warlord Of Mars would have been the third film’s title too. Unfortunately, for fans of the books, and Stanton’s film, we’ll never get to see the further adventures of John Carter. Still, at least Stanton’s reveal shows us what could have been.


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