DID YOU READ

John Carter 101: A Primer on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Warlord of Mars

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John Carter” leaps into theaters this week, and his arrival will likely be many moviegoers’ first introduction to the Civil War soldier who became the red planet’s greatest hero.

First appearing in a 1912 pulp magazine, John Carter is the creation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also gave the world the vine-swinging king of the jungle, Tarzan. Now, 100 years later, Walt Disney Pictures is hoping to create a new generation of John Carter fans with this weekend’s big-screen adventure featuring Taylor Kitsch as the title character.

Still, if you’re not familiar with Burroughs’ series, there’s no need to worry. Not only does the film do a great job of introducing the character, but we’ve got you covered with a short overview of the series, its characters, and the worlds they inhabit.

Read on for everything you need to know about “John Carter” before you buy your ticket.

The Books

The character of John Carter made his debut in a serialized story published in the pulp magazine The All-Story and titled “Under the Moons of Mars.” This story was later collected in what would become the first of 11 novels, A Princess of Mars.

Collectively known as the “Barsoom series” (the name given to the planet by Mars’ native inhabitants), Burroughs’ stories encompass several generations of characters, including John Carter, his children, and various other Martian and Earth-born characters. The final book in the series, John Carter of Mars: Skeleton Men of Jupiter was published in 1943.

John Carter’s first adventure in the series – and the inspiration for the “John Carter” movie – is set during the year 1866, and is written as if Burroughs’ received a first-hand account of the story from Carter himself. Burroughs is a recurring character in the series, as he often finds himself charged with watching over Carter’s inanimate body each time the adventurer’s consciousness is summoned to Mars.

The Premise

Throughout the series, whenever John Carter travels to Mars, he leaves behind a physical body on Earth that appears lifeless – necessitating that someone like Burroughs keep watch over it until he returns. The mysterious mode of transport reconstitutes his form on Mars, but due to the planet’s gravity and atmosphere, he’s able to leap great distances and has strength far beyond that of the planet’s native inhabitants.

From the very first installment of the series, John becomes embroiled in a civil war on Barsoom that’s not unlike America’s own Civil War. The various races of Mars are constantly battling for the planet’s limited resources, and John’s experience in battle – combined with his powerful abilities – help him become one of the planet’s greatest warriors.

The Characters

There are a number of different species of Martians represented in the Barsoom series, though the first volume – and the film – introduce the two primary inhabitants of Mars: Red Martians and Green Martians.

The Red Martians look like humans and are the dominant race on Barsoom. They live in cities and use an advanced form of technology that allows them to live in huge cities on the surface of the planet. Competition for the planet’s resources has pushed many of the cities to fight a constant war for control of valuable territory.

The Green Martians are distinctly less humanoid, with four arms and tall bodies that tower over humans and Red Martians alike. They’re a primitive, savage culture governed by tribal leaders who rule by force. They have no concept of family or love, and live to fight with rival tribes and the rest of the planet’s inhabitants.

Among the other Martian races appearing in the early stories and the film are the white apes (seen above) – immense beasts that resemble Earth’s gorillas, but have four arms. The film also features a mysterious race of powerful, shape-shifters called the Therns who are attempting to secretly influence events on the planet.

The Cast and Crew

Along with Kitsch as John Carter, Lynn Collins plays Dejah Thoris, a Red Martian and princess of one of the great cities of Mars. Willem Dafoe voices Tars Tarkas, a Green Martian who becomes Carter’s ally, and Mark Strong plays Matai Shang, one of the Thern.

“John Carter” is directed by “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E” filmmaker Andrew Stanton, who is making his live-action directorial debut with the film.

And there you have it, folks – a brief guide that takes you from Earth to Mars, courtesy of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ imagination and Disney’s upcoming film “John Carter.” The movie hits theaters this Friday, March 9.

Are you looking forward to seeing “John Carter” in theaters? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.

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Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.