Alienation on the Red Planet with the ‘John Carter’ Trailer

Disney’s latest would-be-blockbuster, John Carter, has had a hell of a time making it to the screen – with live-action feature film development interest first kicking off back in the 1950s (from Ray Harryhausen, no less), though the rights to Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ novels weren’t bought until the 1980s, when Disney picked them up. From there, the project seemed ready to go (with cast and crew falling into place), until its own would-be director John McTiernan himself noted that technology was not yet advanced enough to create the write cinematic vision. Then Paramount got the rights for Robert Rodriguez to direct, then it was Kerry Conran, then it was Jon Favreau, and then Paramount didn’t renew the rights, and then Disney got them back, and then I fell asleep.

The film is finally hitting screens next year, thanks to Disney and Wall-E director Andrew Stanton (making his live action debut), with John Carter himself being played by rising star Taylor Kitsch. And while this is all well and good, John Carter has one huge obstacle to overcome – it is a huge, multimillion dollar production that comes from a beloved and deep source material that has an obviously epic scale, and awareness by the general public for the property is negligible. And I can’t quite believe that the film’s first full-length trailer will do much to alleviate that. Check it out, along with more of my concerns, after the break.

Dear Joe Moviegoer – what did this trailer tell you? Did it tell you in a clear manner that the film is set on Mars? No? Had the film retained its original title, John Carter of Mars, would that point be more clear? Do you know when this film is set? No? Would you believe me if I told you that John Carter was a Civil War vet? Do you have any idea how he got to Mars? Do you know who Taylor Kitsch is? No? Well, you should go watch Friday Night Lights, but that’s an entirely different issue.

I have never read any of the extensive Barsoom novels that make up the John Carter universe, but they are a source of great admiration in the geek world at large, so yes, John Carter is certainly an anticipated feature for a select group of film geeks (of which I count myself), but the general public has no idea just what the heck this all is. Will that work for Disney? Or will they up their marketing and pump out action-packed, visually-dazzling materials that will draw in people who have never even heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs? Or will they attempt to clarify the story a touch more?

John Carter virgins, what will it take to get you interested in the film?

John Carter opens on March 9, 2012. [IGN]

Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for,,, Vulture,,, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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