Andrew Stanton is a lucky guy. After success at Pixar, Disney tapped him to direct the $200 million sci-fi epic John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars novels that he says he's loved ever since he was a kid. But despite his childhood love of the source material, there's one thing Stanton never really liked about this particular sci-fi classic: the hero.
In an extensive interview over at Collider covering everything from John Carter's extensive visual FX works to how he used Burroughs' descriptions in creature designs, Stanton talks at length about how he adapted the novel he's loved for most of his life, and confesses that Carter himself was never really part of the appeal.
"To be honest, I never actually invested in Carter 100%," Stanton said. "He was always a kind of Prince Valiant, did-it-right-from-the-get-go kind of bland, vanilla guy. I think it was his situation that was more fascinating to me. It was a stranger in a strange land, guy thrown out to circumstances. Also, there's the oddity of the time period. I really love that somebody from the Civil War gets thrown into what we would consider the antiquated past of Mars. That's been something that I've really tried to embrace on this and give it its special thumbprint."
A lot of people find the shining hero to be the least interesting part of a story, so Stanton's not alone there. But how did he overcome it? How did he come to invest himself in a title character that he was never a huge fan of before? Well, according to him, it's all in the adaptation.
"Again, not to diss anything, but it was almost in spite of John Carter that I liked the books," he said. "That was where we put a lot of our work in. How to make him somebody to root for, not that I wouldn't. But it's not that unique to just this story. It's often that the hero is the least interesting person and that the interesting characters are the people around him. I felt like I'd rather watch damaged goods than somebody who has their act together. I went for someone who pretty much resigned himself to the fact that his purpose in life was over and sort of went with the thinking that it's not for us to say what our purpose in life is."
John Carter opens March 9. Then we'll see if Stanton's vision for the character made him interesting after all.