YMMV / John Carter of Mars


  • Anti-Climax Boss: All major antagonists are this, one way or another. None of them provide a serious challenge to Carter in a straight up fight (that is when they are not being disposed by someone else), given they are mostly schemers, way past their former glory or just can't keep up with a Invincible Hero. The closest thing to provide a serious battle to Carter was an Yellow Martian old man, and there was no one there to witness their duel.
  • Complete Monster: The majority of the villains in the Barsoom series are implacably evil as they are rulers or despots of major empires, but some do stand out.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Dejah Thoris, despite her decreased focus in succeeding books, is one of the most recognizable characters in the Barsoom series. She has been heavily depicted in John Carter's fan arts, popular pin-up subject among artists like Frank Frazetta and is given expanded roles in Dynamite Entertainment's comic adaptation, even starring her own regular series and original miniseries as Dejah of Mars and Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Phaidor. A Thern princess wearing nothing more than jewelry. Many illustrators depict her just like Dejah Thoris with blonde hair and white skin, but with a god complex and taste for cannibalism. Even the hero notes she is very beautiful, despite turning down her advances.
  • Fair for Its Day:
    • The novels are surprisingly progressive for their time. In particular, the Barsoomian races aren't portrayed as weaker or pathetic compared with each other and the white human protagonist. Far from it in fact, as the black Martians are invariably described as honorable and very attractive, despite most of them being sky pirates. What's more, Red Martians are the result of interbreeding every race together for survival and adaptability, and are typically thought of as the most sympathetic.
    • The cannibalistic White Martians are even nastier than the Black Martians. Clearly inferior morally to the Red Martians, intellectually to the Black Martians and technologically to the Yellow Martians, the White Martians are easily the most unpleasant of the Barsoomian races. Those hybrid Red Martians (and many of the "monstrous" Green Martians) are good guys and clearly very intelligent, adapting very quickly once not oppressed by the others. The original trilogy even ends with John Carter becoming the eponymous warlord and uniting all the varying races of Barsoom as equals — and this is clearly shown to be a good thing. The portrayal of women has been compared favorably in some respects to even some modern works.
    • It is also stated that the cross-breeding that resulted in the Red Martians was intentional. An attempt to breed a race that could adapt better to the changing environment.
    • In the first book at least, John Carter is disgusted at the Green Barsoomians for their warlike ways and violent tendencies, but it is taken for granted that his killing of dozens of generally innocent people is perfectly justifiable because he is doing it to rescue his One True Love. The closest he comes to acknowledging that maybe murder isn't the best way to solve all his problems is when he reflects that the guards were Worthy Opponents and fighting men like him. An Alternate Character Interpretation might be that since the story is told in the first person, the reason John is portrayed as chaotic good despite his somewhat chaotic neutral method of interacting with obstacles is because he's actually a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't see anything wrong with sacrificing other people's lives if they get in the way of his personal happiness and that of those he cares about.
    • John is a former confederate soldier. note 
    • This is actually lampshaded in The Gods of Mars when Carter meets Black Martians for the first time; the narration says he finds them admirable fighters and that their skin tone only makes them more handsome, adding that the reader may find this odd for a Virginian to say.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: John Carter and the Giant of Mars tends to fall victim to this. One notable example: in the book "A Guide to Barsoom" writer John Flint Roy clearly states he does not consider this story to be a true Barsoom story, and thus didn't include any information about this story and the characters apearing in it in his guide.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Two decades before the Nazis rose to power, this series was giving us white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed people who considered themselves superior to all others.
  • Les Yay: In Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars, there are suggestions of this between Dejah Thoris of Helium and Thuvia of Ptarth, who are imprisoned together with the villanous Phaidor in the Temple of the Sun. When Dejah Thoris is reunited with her beloved John Carter at the end of Warlord, she recounts how Thuvia's "tender love" kept her sane through the months of their imprisonment.
    • John Carter admires Xodar and calls him handsome an beautiful at certain points.
    • This runs in the family, as Tara of Helium and her devoted slave girl kiss in one scene - after the two get into a passionate argument about Tara's safety that includes them declaring their love for each other. While a certain amount of Values Dissonance applies to the interpretation, damn.
  • Newer Than They Think:
    • John Carter was preceded by an obscure book titled Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, which was about an Earthman transported to Mars through mystical means, fights aliens with his superhuman strength and falls in love with an alien princess. The book was published a decade before Burroughs wrote A Princess of Mars. Interestingly, both works crossed over in comic book format in Dynamite's Warriors of Mars.
    • Its not hard to imagine the First Born as drow, with them being a very attractive dark-skinned, long-lived race that lives underground, regularly enslaves outsiders and worship an evil, female deity. The obvious difference is that the First Born turn on a new leaf and redeem their evil ways.
    • Green Martians were orcs before it was cool.
    • The White Martians resemble the Nazis as supremacists with Aryan features such as blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, yet they predated the Nazis rise of power by decades.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Plenty of it.
  • Older Than They Think: Some fans of a little James Cameron film saw the trailer for the Disney adaptation and declared it a rip-off. Unknown to them, not only is this series older, but James Cameron himself has cited it as direct inspiration for his film.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Solan. The guy appears very briefly, but he gives Carter a better fight than anyone else in the series.
  • Seasonal Rot: John Carter and the Giant of Mars is widely considered by fans to be the weakest of the Barsoom stories, and is generally considered something of an afterthought rather than a true John Carter novel. The fact that it wasn't written by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself but rather by his son John "Jack" Coleman Burroughs doesn't help either.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Probably at the core of a lot of the criticism the film version is receiving.
  • Tear Jerker: The end of The Gods of Mars.
  • Values Dissonance: Burroughs was writing at a time when scientific racialism was in vogue, and it shows; the Red Martians, the most populous (and least advanced technologically) of the humanoid Martians, are said to have originated out of miscegenation between the White, Yellow, and Black Martians, who have been forced into polar enclaves by dysgenic pressure. The fact that the Black Martians are cannibalistic raiders is questionable in modern eyes.
  • The Woobie: Dejah Thoris. Her husband disappears mysteriously one night during a mission to save all of Barsoom, their child is born on the same day and she is forced to see him grow without their father. Then, her child goes missing, followed by her father and grandfather who go looking for him, leaving her completely alone. When she tries looking for them, she is captured and enslaved by the First Born. She manages to reunite with her husband after 10 years for a few moments before being thrown inside a dungeon with a murderous White Martian that is jealous of her and tries to kill her - and when that fails, she is forced to spend several months locked with her attempted murderer. When she is finally freed from the Temple, its not Carter who came to save her, but his enemies who want to exact retribution on him through his wife and take her prisoner. She spends every moment being thrown around as a hostage with the threat of being horribly defiled and tortured by them just to spite Carter, and is even faced with the prospect of being forced married to a Evil Overlord who has taken a shine on her. Its truly a wonder how she did not break by the end of the whole ordeal.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/JohnCarterOfMars