MARK WAID: What appeals to you about John Carter?
RON MARZ: I think what grabbed me when I first read the novels as a kid was the sense of wonder and discovery. Burroughs had an unparalleled imagination, so everything was fantastic in the true sense of the word. That, coupled with breakneck pacing, is impossible to resist when you're 11 years old. It's stayed with me ever since. And, when you get right down to it, John's got a pretty hot girlfriend.
MW: What motivates him? What is his greatest challenge?
RM: The short answer is he's motivated by love of his princess, Dejah Thoris. He does what he does for her, always for her. But I think the larger answer is that he's motivated by honor, by doing the right thing. Compared to a lot of contemporary heroes, John Carter is a throwback. He does the right thing because it's the right thing, not because he's driven by guilt or angst, or because there's something to be gained. John's greatest challenge is a little tougher, because he's a virtual superman on Mars. That's why I gave him an opposite number in my first arc on the series, a Union cavalry officer who is John's equal on Mars.
MW: How far afield from the original Burroughs material do you wander? Do you want to go farther?
RM: My goal is to stay true to the spirit of the canon, but not be constrained by it. I don't want to do a series that only appeals to hardcore Burroughs fans, I want the material to be inviting to a wide audience. I'd love to go farther, because I think that's the best way to honor the original material -- to engage in creation rather than just imitation. So much of what Burroughs did was about unleashing wild imagination. Anyone who follows in his footsteps needs to do the same.
MW: Man, how underrated was that movie?
RM: Don't get me started. I love Andrew Stanton's movie, not just because it's John Carter, but because it's a damn good movie. It's kind of criminal how botched the marketing was, and then how the film's fate was decided even before it opened. It was doomed before opening day thanks to a combination of studio ineptitude and the media looking to stick a shiv in it because it had the temerity to have a large budget. The failure at the box office breaks my heart, but my heartache is soothed by how great the movie is. I re-watch it often, and I think over time its reputation will be burnished.
MW: For those readers still on the fence, fill in the blank: If you like ____________, you should read John Carter.
RM: "Star Wars" is the obvious one, right? "Star Wars" isn't really science fiction, it is a lot closer to heroic fantasy, or more to the point, planetary romance. George Lucas borrowed a lot more from Edgar Rice Burroughs than he ever did from Heinlein or Asimov. I remember when the John Carter movie came out, a lot of people and even some critics complained about the arena battle with the white apes being ripped off from Episode 2.
Well, where to do you think George Lucas got it? That kind of sequence is right out of the John Carter stories. John Carter might have swords instead of light sabers, and airships instead of X-Wings, but they're absolutely cut from the same cloth.
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