It’s really easy to see Andrew Stanton’s upcoming John Carter film as a by-product of Avatar‘s success, but let’s be fair: all sorts of producers have tried to adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs’ old Barsoom pulp novels since 1931, so Stanton and Disney deserve a lot of credit for dressing their film in a higher budget than the 2009 direct-to-DVD A Princess of Mars. And in the latest pair of John Carter TV spots, the film looks a lot more in line with an otherworldy Conan the Barbarian than the jungle conflicts and elastic Smurfs of Avatar.
In fact, the dusty, chaotic feel of the Martian warfare suggests a much broader round of influences than ol’ Avatar. In the first clip alone, I’m reminded of Conan,the better parts of the Star Wars prequels, Rene Laloux’s Light Years, and maybe even a little He-Man, thanks to our hero’s armor. Carter, a displaced Earth man who finds himself fighting a Martian war and seducing a Martian princess without even trying, assumes far more commanding airs in the second commercial. Like the standard chauvinistic fantasy hero, he has no time for women and his little animal sidekick (who reminds us that Stanton also directed Pixar’s WALL-E) in the heat of battle. The quicker editing sells the movie better than the original trailer, though I can’t help but feel that Stanton should’ve left “Of Mars” in the film’s title, since mundane character names suggest real-world dramas or biopics: Michael Clayton, Erin Brockovich, and what have you. Still, ads like the ones above ensure that no one’s going to mistake John Carter for a legal thriller when it arrives in March.