Characters / John Carter

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John Carter

Played By: Taylor Kitsch

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Book Carter is a very straight-up heroic type. Movie Carter starts out embittered after the Civil War and the loss of his family. For a good portion of the movie, all he wants is to get back home, not wanting anything to do with the war, before finding his inner hero on Mars.
  • The Ageless: After returning from Barsoom, John appears to have stopped aging after ten years.
  • Batman Gambit: Pulls off a surprisingly good one against the Thern agent on Earth.
  • Battle Couple: With Dejah at the climax.
  • Challenging the Chief: Against Tal Hajus. Which he wins effortlessly.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: If John sees someone is in serious danger he will intervene on their behalf. He just can't help himself.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His wife and child were tragically lost in a house fire.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He seems a bit wayward at first, and even when he first shows up on Mars, the only thing he really wants to do is go back home. Then he starts getting attached to the Tharks as well as Dejah...
  • Determinator
  • Dual Wielding: Most scenes depict him wielding two swords in battle.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: John is a completely normal, if not skilled, cavalry soldier on Earth. On Mars, he's a One-Man Army.
  • The Hero
  • Master Swordsman
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Barsoom's lower gravity makes this average human capable of superhuman feats of strength and endurance.
    • Which is just silly; Barsoom and Mars both have the same surface gravity (0.38 of Earth's surface gravity), so John Carter would only be able to lift a bit over 2.5 times more than what he is capable of on Earth. Also mass is independent of local gravity, he'd still have to overcome the same amount of inertia to get something to move. Pretty much all of his feats can be chalked up to Rule of Cool.
    • However, the original books were written at the very beginning of the 20th century, when no one really knew what operating in low gravity would be like, so it's excusable for Burroughs to amp it up quite a bit...
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The bonds he forms with the Tarks as well as his relationship with Dejah, help John become a more noble and heroic man by the end of the movie.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In his Barsoomian outfit.


Tars Tarkas

Played By: Willem Dafoe


Played By: Samantha Morton

  • The Chick
  • In the Blood: Tars Tarkas is her father, and it's no coincidence they're the two nicest Tharks. "The blood of my father drives me" indeed. Her Missing Mom is implied to have been in the same vein.
    • She was
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Though a good deal less dangerous than most Tharks. Though she certianly has her moments.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: She's a good deal less brutal and more compassionate than is considered seemly in a Thark, which has led to a very hard life for her.
  • Proud Warrior Race Girl: Played with. Sola is rarely seen without her weapons, but her personality is such that she only fights when necessary. She clearly believes in the Thark ideals of courage and honor, but can't deal with her people's brutality.

Tal Hajus

Played By: Thomas Haden Church


Played By: Polly Walker

    Red Martians 

Tardos Mors

Played By: Ciarian Hinds

Dejah Thoris

The Princess of Helium and the Deuteragonist of the movie.
Played By: Lynn Collins

Sab Than

Played By: Dominic West

Kantos Kan

Played By: James Purefoy
The Jedwar of the Helluminatic navy who becomes one of Carter and Dejah's closest allies.

  • The Charmer: Downplayed. While it isn't presented outright, he manages to make his way to Carter's cell without drawing his weapons and smoothly talks his way past the guards. And when he and Carter crash into Dejah's bed chamber, his first instinct is to flirt with her handmaidens.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He gets a few good ones every now and then.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the novels, Kantos was one of Carter's best friends. Here, his screentime is limited to only a few, albeit entertaining, scenes.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Him helping Carter escape certainly establishes this.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Tardos Mors, Dejah Thoris and the rest of the Helluminatic city.


Matai Shang

Played By: Mark Strong

  • Adaptational Badass: In addition to the Therns as a whole getting a major tech-upgrade, Book!Matai Shang basically sat on his throne and didn't get involved until Carter was already exposing the Therns' false religion. In the movie, he's a much more proactive, Darth Sidious-esque schemer.
  • Affably Evil: He's not an unpleasant sort to be around, for chessmastering planet-conquering alien godling, and actually seems to enjoy his cat-and-mouse game with Carter. "Your move, Earthman."
  • A God Am I: Given that fact that he and the rest of the Thern supervise and manipulate the destruction of civilizations and planets, Matai feels a sense of superiority and power over beings such as Carter.
  • Bald of Evil: He's got a bald head and is undeniably evil.
  • Big Bad: He and the Thern are the Catalysts of the conflict.
  • Breakout Villain: He's not mentioned until the second book and doesn't get involved personally until the third. Here, he's Big Bad from the get-go.
  • The Chessmaster: The Therns basically manipulate and supervise the wide-scale destruction of planets and civilizations, using Sab Than as an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes
  • Emotion Eater: At one point he explains that he (and by extension all Therns) feed off of the negative emotions of other life forms. Thus making the Therns a kind of Psychic Vampire race.
  • For the Evulz: Explicitly says he has no cause. 'Course, he may have been lying- Therns tend to do that.
  • Human Aliens: Assuming his Shapeshifter Default Form is what he really looks like, he's completely indistinguishable from a Caucasian human.
  • Magic from Technology
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Squishy Wizard: His Magic from Technology may give him great power, but it doesn't save him from being tackled by Woola.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: One of the many abilities conferred by the Thern medallions.


Edgar Rice Burroughs

Played By: Daryl Sabara

Colonel Powell

Played By: Bryan Cranston