‘John Carter’ Director Andrew Stanton Reveals the Story for Unmade Sequel (Exclusive)

‘Gods of Mars’ would have drawn influence from ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’


The 2012 Disney blockbuster “John Carter” was always meant to be the start of a new franchise, with co-writer and director Andrew Stanton having mapped out where two sequels would take the characters before the first film even hit theaters. Unfortunately, the disastrous box office performance of the $307 million epic put a halt to franchise plans before they could even begin. “John Carter” was the first and last adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series from Disney.

But 10 years later, Stanton is ready to reveal where he would have taken John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) and Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) in the first sequel, which would have been called “Gods of Mars.”

While speaking with TheWrap for our complete and untold history of the development, production and release of “John Carter,” Stanton revealed the planned story for the follow-up that he was working on with co-writer Mark Andrews.

“It was going to be that every movie had a different character saying the prologue,” Stanton said. “The first one is Willem [Dafoe], as Tars. The second one’s prologue narration was going to be Dejah. 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. And that story she’s telling, she’s telling the story of the father that this child will never know.”

Stanton continued: “And then her dad, Ciarán 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 he’s 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.”

Stanton continued: “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.”
And that is how the story for the “John Carter” sequel was meant to continue. A sequel that, unfortunately for the fan-base that has built up around the film in the years since its release, never came to fruition.

For much more on the story behind “John Carter,” read our complete history of the film.