Disney's John Carter Director Reveals Pitch for Canceled Sequel Gods of Mars

John Carter director Andrew Stanton has shared his pitch for Gods of Mars, a planned sequel to the 2012 Disney film starring Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins. An adaptation of Princess of Mars, the first of author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels starring pulpy hero John Carter, the live-action film from Pixar’s Finding Nemo filmmaker was to return to the stars with two sequels: Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars. But the costly sci-fi flick flopped, grossing just $284 million worldwide after a reported cost of $306.6 million — making John Carter one of the most expensive movies ever made.

In 2014, Stanton tweeted logos for canceled sequels John Carter: Gods of Mars and John Carter: Warlord of Mars. “Could have been cool. Had big plans,” Stanton tweeted of Gods, adding of Warlord: “…That would have led to even bigger plans.”

Speaking to TheWrap for a retrospective published on the tenth anniversary of John Carter, Collins said of Stanton’s plans for John Carter 2 and 3: “He pitched it to us too, which is why it’s so heartbreaking. Because it was like, oh my God. Oh my God.'”

Nearly eight years after Disney lost the rights to the Barsoom series, Stanton described his Gods of Mars pitch to TheWrap:

I love the idea of you were going to open with the prologue. It was going to be that every movie had a different character saying the prologue. The first one is Willem [Dafoe], as Tars. The second one’s prologue narration was going to be Dejah [Collins]. And it was going to give anybody that hadn’t seen the first movie a little precursor of the history that got you to this movie. Shorthand, interesting imagery, whether it was artwork or whatever. And then you were going to reveal she was telling it to her baby. And you were going to realize, Oh my God, it’s the child. It’s Carthoris, this child of Dejah Thoris and Carter [Taylor Kitsch]. And that story she’s telling, she’s telling the story of the father that this child will never know.

And then her dad, Ciar?n Hinds’ character, Tardos Mors, said she’s been up too long, she’s tired, let her grandfather have a moment with the child and I’ll put her to bed. Then it was going to be revealed to be Matai Shang [Mark Strong] in shapeshifting mode. And he was going to steal the baby. And then it was going to go onto the opening credits. The next image after the opening credits was going to be Carter lying in his funeral suit in the middle of the desert, just looking like a dead body in a wake and just waking up.

Then he’s just going to take off his jacket like it was nothing and just start walking. And then eventually, just like out of ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ way out in the horizon, is going to come a Thark on a thoat. And he’s going to surprise Carter by saying he knows exactly who he is and there’s been somebody looking for you. He brings him to a camp and it’s Kantos Kan which is James Purefoy, who’d been searching forever off of any river where this guy went. And so shocked that he’s found him. And then he says, ‘You have to get back now to heal him.’ And he gets back and you think it’s going to be a reunion, only to find out that there’s been some time between the prologue and the main credits.

Now Dejah’s gone missing. She’s convinced that the Therns took their child and if Carter ever comes back, she went down the River Iss to try and find him. And then, like ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes,’ it all takes place, everybody going into the earth to find out who’s really been controlling the whole planet. There’s a whole race down there that has been with high tech. Basically, it’s been a third world without anybody knowing it on the top of the surface and the first world’s been inside the whole time operating the air, the water, the everything to keep the world functioning.

“Over time, I think you take a breath and understand that it is what it is … I guess people who watch it now for the first time can take a lot more away from it than people did at first,” Kitsch told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “It’s always flattering, and I learned a ton on that movie. I honestly don’t see it as a failure. I have great memories from it, and I still talk to a bunch of the cast. It is what it is, right?”


Don’t Stop Here

More To Explore