Crew of the ARES III
A team of six astronauts who comprise the third manned mission to Mars.
- Badass Bookworm: As astronauts, they all have at least one degree in a STEM field, have gone through intense physical training, and have traveled millions of miles from Earth where all kinds of things could cost them their lives (For Science!).
- Command Roster:
- Mr. Fixit: Mark Watney. Mechanical engineer, though technically the lowest-ranking crewmember.
- The Captain: Melissa Lewis. The commander of the mission.
- Number Two / Ace Pilot: Rick Martinez. Second by rank to Lewis, handles the initial landing of the Ares 3 mission as well as remote controls a supply probe, and a stripped-down Ares 4 MAV in the finale.
- The Medic: Chris Beck. Flight surgeon, administers medical care and monitors crew lifesigns.
- The Navigator: Alex Vogel. Coordinates orbital mechanics of the Hermes spacecraft.
- Wrench Wench: Beth Johanssen. Manages the Hermes's systems and reactor.
- The Scientist: Divided between Watney, Lewis, and Vogel, whose respective fields are botany, geology, and chemistry.
- True Companions: To each other. After Mark is stranded on Mars, and the rest of the crew learns that they have an opportunity to save him, they unanimously vote to do it, even though it means risking their lives by spending another year in space.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the film, it is revealed that after the mission, Mark is a teacher for new astronaut recruits, Lewis and Vogel have been reunited with their families, Beck and Johanssen have a baby together, and Martinez is now the commander of the Ares V mission.
Mission Specialist 3 for the ARES III (specializing in botany) and the titular Martian. He is stranded on Mars when the team is forced to abort the mission due to a storm, and presumed dead.
- The Ace: Brilliant, good looking, built like an athlete, resourceful, calm under pressure, has a terrific attitude in the face of insurmountable odds, and is an astronaut. Subverted in that he's in fact the lowest-ranked member of the crew and is, more or less, the handyman and superfluous gardener. Then double-subverted as those are precisely the skills needed for a lone individual to stay alive when stranded on Mars.
- Almighty Janitor: In the novel, he notes that, despite being in a low-resource, life-or-death situation, his jobs boil down to being a farmer, a construction worker, and a truck driver.
- Anti-Nihilist: Mark through and through. He admits that the odds of him surviving are extremely low and that the universe will constantly find ways to screw with him, yet despite setbacks or bad luck, he never throws up his hands and gives in, and states that should he die, it will be in service to a great cause, leaving him with no regrets.
- Deadpan Snarker: Copes through his situation with considerable amounts of sarcasm.
- Determinator: Despite all the challenges and disasters he is faced with, Watney never gives into despair for any length of time. When he returns and takes up teaching for NASA, he explains to his students that they need to expect that at some point everything will go south on them. At that point they can either accept their fate and die or solve one problem, then another, then another, and if they solve enough problems, they get to come home.
- The Engineer: His engineering skills help him survive time and again on Mars. He's not technically the only engineer on the Hermes (Johanssen is the sysop, Martinez has a degree in astronautical engineering), but the novel makes it sound like he did the bulk of the repair work.
- The Heart: Made explicit in the novel, one of the factors that got him included in the crew was his jocular nature which helps relieve stress in the team. Acting a catalyst helping them work better together.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: You wouldn't think that botany is a cool skill for an astronaut, but it is this skillset that allows Mark to extend his food supply and survive longer on Mars.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: As a space saga, being helmetless isn't an option, but Mark never lowers his visor, which would have blinded him as Mars' atmosphere doesn't filter enough sunlight to remain tolerable to human eyes.
- Heroic BSoD: Has two, when his makeshift farm is destroyed due to decompression and when he learns that the supply probe sent by NASA to keep him alive exploded during lift-off.
- Living Legend: This becomes Mark's status once he returned from Mars, with students acknowledging him as such, saying that it is an honor to meet him, and are all enthusiastic to ask him questions during the lectures he gives.
- Meaningful Name: "Mark" means "consecrated to the god Mars,” the god being the namesake of the planet Mark is trapped on.
- Nerves of Steel: He handles the pressure and seeming hopelessness of his situation far, far better than even a highly trained astronaut can be expected to.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Zig-Zagged throughout the course of the movie. Mark's education as a botanist and a mechanical engineer enables him to grow food and jury-rig the equipment left behind from the previous unmanned Mars missions but he needs to "science some shit" (paraphrased) in order to get water to grow said food and establish communication with NASA. On the other hand, he had months of time during the trip to Mars and the duration of the mission to cross-train with the other crew members. Later on he has a team of experts from NASA telling him how to do stuff, interspersed with scenes of said experts back on Earth testing out the same things to figure out the best way to achieve objectives.
- Sad Clown: Jokes to himself and the cameras to deal with the pressures of his situation.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Most other characters barely curse, but Watney delivers several F-bombs, even in the promotional videos.
- Science Hero: Watney survives by applying his chemistry, engineering, and botany knowledge to surviving on Mars long enough for a rescue mission, gaining the admiration of the entire world in the process.
- Space Pirate: He has a reasonable claim to being humanity's first, as Mars is technically classified as international waters under maritime rules and he's hijacking the Ares IV MAV. He requests to be called Captain Blondbeard.
- Veteran Instructor: Mark's new job upon returning to Earth is in teaching survival techniques for astronauts-in-training, since he is now undoubtedly the leading expert in that field.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the rest of the crew, but Martinez in particular. They obviously love throwing quips at each other and Martinez is the first to cast his vote to go back and rescue Mark.
The ARES III's mission commander.
- Adaptational Badass: Not that Lewis isn't a badass in the source material, but she gets a bit more to do here than her book counterpart.
- The Atoner: After learning of Watney's survival, she feels solely responsible for leaving him behind. She supports the decisions leading to the mutiny enabling the Hermes to return to Mars to rescue Watney directly. In the book she keeps everyone on track through several risky maneuvers as commander during the final rescue effort, while in the movie she actually conducts the final EVA herself, grabbing hold of Watney and bringing him back to the Hermes.
- The Chains of Commanding: Takes the news that they left Watney behind particularly hard, as it was her call. She also refuses to let her crew alleviate her guilt. They were following orders. She left Watney to die on Mars.
- Commanding Coolness: Her NASA title. Given she's a Navy veteran, there's a chance this is her rank as well.
- The Comically Serious: When paired off as a foil against Watney and Martinez's antics. Mainly because she can shut them both up by remotely muting their radios. She also gets in a deadpan zinger in the book when revealing her knowledge of Beck and Johanssen's secret relationship.
- Disco Dan: Is a massive fan of 70's disco soundtracks, which to Watney's chagrin are the only available music he has to play whilst stranded. He lets her have it with "You. Have. Terrible taste. In. Music!" when she rescues him at the end of the film.
- Happily Married: Her husband even shares her passion for disco. Or at least enables it.
- Hidden Depths: The very stern and serious military officer with a possibly unhealthy obsession with 70's pop culture.
- A Mother to Her Men: Cares deeply for the crew, and is distraught over having to make the difficult call of leaving Mark behind.
- Nerves of Steel: When the rest of the crew starts fretting over the problems of getting the Hermes low and slow enough to catch Mark, she keeps on prodding them to "work the problem".
- Reasonable Authority Figure: When she receives the surreptitious Purnell Maneuver data, she refuses to make the call alone, as doing so would risk her crewmates' lives (not to mention their ability to ever go into space again, to say nothing of probably getting herself and Martinez, who are members of the Navy and Air Force respectively, court-martialed). In the film, even when Martinez jumps at the opportunity, she calmly and politely reins him in so that they can discuss the pros and cons of going along with the plan. In the book, she gives the whole crew 24 hours to consider and optionally retract their support in private, to prevent the influence of peer pressure, promising to keep any dissenter completely anonymous.
The ARES III's pilot.
- Ace Pilot: He's a USAF veteran and graduated at the head of his class.
- Consummate Professional: Martinez's data stick contains no digital entertainment for the years-long mission, proving his dedication to his job.
- Class Clown: A constant source of jokes and levity, which is probably why he and Mark get along so well.
- Happily Married: Has a wife and son back home. His wife says they've been together since the age of fifteen. She's initially angry to learn he agreed to the extended mission but quickly comes around when he explains why he's doing it.
- Leeroy Jenkins: When Lewis puts the rescue plan to a vote, Martinez immediately votes yes, without regard to potential consequences. Even being reminded that if they ever get back to Earth, they're most likely going to be court-martialed doesn't put too much of a damper on his enthusiasm.
- Majorly Awesome: A major in the USAF, and one of NASA's best pilots.
- Rank Up: In the epilogue, Martinez is shown to be commander of ARES V.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Ace Pilot, willing to casually risk his life and throw his career away to save Mark, and convinces NASA to allow him to bring a wooden crucifix as one of his personal items, despite it being a fire hazard.
- Undying Loyalty: The entire crew, and the rest of NASA, are this to Watney, but Rick is quick to jump at the chance to save Mark, and explains to his wife that had it been the other way around, Mark would do the same.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Martinez and Watney spend most of their time jokingly mocking each other but Martinez is the first person to vote in favor of going back to rescue Mark. As he explains to his wife, "He'd do the same for me".
Mission Specialist who serves as the ARES III's flight surgeon.
- Babies Ever After: The Where Are They Now epilogue in the movie shows him and Johanssen with their new baby.
- Deadpan Snarker: Revealed (and lampshaded by Martinez) when he joins in on radio chatter between Watney and Martinez.
- Hospital Hottie: One promo video includes a tweet describing him as "McDreamy", and Watney calls him by the nickname "Handsome" at one point in the movie.
- The Generic Guy: Isn't as defined as the rest of the crew. Part of it is his mission speciality, aerospace medicine, never obviously coming into play. Not helped by the fact that his other specialty, doing spacewalks, gets sidelined in the film so Lewis can pull her Atoner act. He's the last of the crew to be mentioned by name in the book, over a hundred pages in.
A German astronaut serving as Mission Specialist aboard the Ares III.
- Captain Obvious: When Lewis suggests that he build a bomb to blow out Hermes' Vehicular Airlock, he says the following:"...But I feel obliged to mention that setting off an explosive device in a spacecraft is a terrible, terrible idea."
- Chekhov's Skill: His chemistry expertise is utilized in the climax to develop a makeshift bomb for a highly risky plan.
- The Comically Serious: Is the most straight-faced and serious (usually) member of the crew. Lewis apologizes to him for the others' antics but he takes it all in fun stride.Johanssen: All right, we’ve got a batch of personals. Dispatching them to your laptops... I don’t need to read Vogel’s weird German fetish emails...Vogel: They are telemetry updates.Johanssen: Hey, whatever does it for you man. There's a video message. It's addressed to the whole crew.Beck: I wanna get in on that telemetry action.
- Germanic Depressives: Subverted. He's stoic for much of the movie, but later goofs off on a video to his family. And when the crew makes the decision to rescue Mark, he says quietly but with intense conviction that time in space added to the mission is "more than enough space for one life", and votes yes.
- Gratuitous German: Utters "Mein Gott" (my god) when reading the message about the "Rich Purnell Manoeuvre" they are instructed to pull with the Hermes. It's pronounced with an accent though, revealing the Norwegian actor to be a Fake German.
- Happily Married: Is a family man with two children who has a caring conversation with his wife.
- Mad Scientist: He's not, but Watney works out that he must be one, because he has a German accent, a base on Mars, and chemistry skills. Later on he builds a bomb to blow up part of Hermes, which Watney pokes fun of.
- Nerves of Steel: Played for Laughs. He's actually the most cautious of the crew, but every bit as professional.Psychiatrist: Do you have any fears?Vogel: No, I'm German. We...don't feel fear.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Sausages. Martinez ribs him for it incessantly, calling him a walking stereotype. Vogel shrugs and responds with, basically, "Don't care, I'm eating sausages."
Mission Specialist aboard Ares III who serves as chief systems engineer.
- Babies Ever After: She and Beck are shown with a newborn child during the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
- The Baby of the Bunch: She is specifically noted as being the youngest and smallest of the crew.
- Gamer Chick: Keeps Zork and Leather Goddesses of Phobos on her laptop.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: Mark speculates that she's an Anglophile based on her The Beatles music collection and Agatha Christie novels.
- Nerds Are Sexy: The whole crew had posters made of them to commemorate the mission. Beth's poster sold more copies than the rest of the crew combined. As for the nerd part, she's noted as being a brainy computer programmer who corrects her dad with some scientific jargon during a message. Her father also mentions that in High School she hung around the brainy boys "too scared to try anything". Watney herself jokes that she's this in-universe, claiming that she is "a hot chick who went to Mars". In the book Mark mentions that Commander Lewis sat the male members of the crew down and warned them all that if any of them tried to make a move on Beth she'd have them kicked off the mission.
- Artificial Gravity: While Hermes doesn't spin, her central gravity ring spins to provide artificial gravity for the long voyage to Mars.
- Cool Starship: She's enormous and incredibly beautiful. Even moreso since she's perfectly feasible with our current technology and construction techniques, befitting the hardness of the rest of the story's science.
- Drop Ship: She has one in the form of the MDV the crew uses to get down to the Hab on Mars.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Hermes almost pulls a dramatic one when the crew explodes the inside of the docking port at the front of her command quarters to slow her down, releasing some of her atmosphere in the process, rendering her interior virtually uninhabitable without a spacesuit until it refills.
- Mile-Long Ship: Relative to today's standards, anyway. Hermes is 225 meters long, or only 0.14 miles (or about as long as a block in Manhattan is wide). Still, it is twice the length of the International Space Station and the largest and most complex spaceship mankind has built.
- The Mothership: This mothership's the pinnacle of NASA technology. She's even described as a "once-in-a-generation achievement."
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Hermes takes this to her advantage and mixes in NASA tech smoothly and beautifully.
- Starship Luxurious: Her interior's clean, tidy and advanced.
Director of NASA.
- All There in the Manual: He is revealed to be Dr. Teddy Sanders in a Blu-Ray DVD exclusive video.
- Big Good: As much as he clashes with the other mission directors on how to save Watney, he is most concerned about the safety of everyone, including the other not-so-immediately-imperiled astronauts and NASA as a whole.
- Brutal Honesty: He does not mince words when he tells his team, and essentially NASA, that if they don't do their very best Mark Watney will die.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Every time one of his directors pulls a fast one while he chooses discretion, they pull it off. The one time he decides to cut corners, he loses a multi-million dollar rocket and slices a lot of time off Mark’s clock.
- The Comically Serious: Always speaks in a deadpan tone, even when insisting on Glorfindel as a code name.
- Not So Above It All: When the meeting to discuss Purnell's highly risky manuever is dubbed "Project Elrond", he requests Glorfindel as his code name.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's doing what's best for NASA's mission, even though it puts him at odds with mission directors. Real Life NASA Administrators are not corporate CEOs or jumped-up middle managers. They're scientists, engineers, or even astronauts, most whom have long tenures with NASA itself, so Teddy is not only very likely the most qualified person for his position, he also has NASA's best interests at heart, even if his decisions may seem callous or unreasonable.
- Slave to PR: Completely justified. All of his actions in the movie are working towards the long-term survival of NASA and the approval of future missions.
- The Spock: With Venkat/Vincent as The Kirk, and Mitch Henderson as The McCoy.
- Straight Man: He's calm, focused and dedicated. He never flinches even during Rich Purnell's silly demonstration of the proposed Spaceship Slingshot Stunt or when he requests "Glorfindel" as his code name.
- Waistcoat of Style: He’s usually wearing one, either over a dress shirt or as part of a three-piece suit, which fits his more cautious and formal approach, in contrast to the more casually-dressed Purnell and Henderson.
NASA's Director of Mars missions.
- Black and Nerdy: Although Vincent is half-black and half-Indian, so he also doubles as Bollywood Nerd.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Out of all the characters, he has the most managerial duties, and is probably the most exhausted person next to Mark and Bruce.
- The Kirk: The balance between Teddy and Mitch.
- The Lancer: To Teddy Sanders.
- Oh, My Gods!: When asked if he believes in God, in the book he says he's Hindu and so has plenty to choose from. In the film he responds that he has a Baptist mother and Hindu father, giving him even more options. In the book, he utters "Thank the gods" when Mark is safely brought aboard.
- Race Lift: Was originally Indian and named Venkat Kapoor in the novels; in the movie he's half-black, half-Indian.
- Rank Up: Supplementary information in the Blu-Ray DVD reveals Vincent succeeds Teddy as Director of NASA
- Smart People Wear Glasses: Vincent proves this.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Becomes the main point of communication between Watney and the rest of Earth.
A staffer at Mission Control who is the first to discover that Watney is still alive.
- Almighty Janitor: She has one job: Keep track of Watney through the satellites. For someone who works at NASA and has a Master's Degree, this job is akin to being a highly paid voyeur, but she has the most experience in tracking Watney, and is talented in noticing and deducing his situation based on low-resolution imagery.
- Field Promotion: She sort of gets unofficially promoted due to her discovery. She gets invited into very high-level meetings, and looks completely out of her depth the entire time. In the novel and the director's cut Sanders also puts her in charge of the satellite tracking over Mars to reduce the window during which they don't have sight over Mark.
- Race Lift: Sort of. While her ethnicity is ambiguous in the novel, Word of God is that she was envisioned as Korean, but the author is also perfectly content that she is played by a blonde Canadian actress.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: In some scenes.
- Servile Snarker: After months of doing nothing but watch grainy satellite pictures of just one guy, she doesn't take shit from the Director of Mars Missions anymore.
- Took a Level in Badass: In the book, she went from a meek and mousy little technician to someone who can snark back at someone who is seven levels above her, because she is the person who has the most experience in tracking Mark Watney and is the only person trained in recognizing all the Ares equipment by sight... even after everything Mark's done to it.
Head of NASA's Public Relations.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: She is considerably less snippy and stressed in the film than her book counterpart, even though her first line is "You have got to be shitting me." In the novel it's fairly clear that, while by no means indifferent to Mark's fate, she is more concerned about the PR implications of his predicament than the astronaut himself.
- Adaptational Wimp: In the book, Annie is a high-powered executive who curses and snaps with every breath she takes, and she intimidates the hell out of the other NASA nerds. She even joins Mitch in calling Teddy a coward for vetoing the Purnell Maneuver. In the movie, she is demure and deferential (though very snarky).
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: As the main PR representative, she is stressed at having to deal with the media in such an important time.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: She's never read or seen The Lord of the Rings, so she has absolutely no idea why everyone else thinks it makes perfect sense to name a secret meeting "Project Elrond."
- The Watson: Her primary role in the story is to have technical issues explained to her.
- Lady Swears-A-Lot: Only in the book. Most of her dialogue is just expletives, as she has to deal with the public while the egghead geeks wrangle over science stuff that's way too over her head.
The ARES III's mission director.
- Actually Pretty Funny: The only member of NASA's mission control who is consistently amused by Mark's antics. Another case of Strange Minds Think Alike?
- A Father to His Men: Is the most staunch and outspoken in favor of the Ares III crew and in support of Watney's rescue, particularly.
- Commander Contrarian: The most vocal and consistent opponent to Teddy's cautious plans, focusing on rescuing Mark instead of the safety of the rest of the ARES III crew.
- Expert Consultant: In the "Ares III: Refocused" extra, it's revealed that after he resigned from NASA he took up as a professional consultant, which he thinks is the perfect job for him, he gets to tell people what he thinks and then leave.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The Blu-Ray DVD reveals that despite being forced to resign, Mitch and Teddy play golf with each other once in a while.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A very driven man who will do anything he has to in order to save Watney. Teddy later claims that most people who work with Mitch think he's an asshole.
- The McCoy: Significantly more emotional and cares less about political consequences than Teddy or Venkat/Vincent.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Against Sanders' orders, he tells the Hermes crew about the rejected alternate plan of a prolonged expedition to bring Watney home, knowing full well he will be fired after the mission is completed. He's rather smug about it in the book, and gets away with it.
Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
- All of Them: Asks Venkat if he believes in God. Venkat replies that his religion (Hindu) has a whole bunch. Bruce tells him to "ask all of them to help."
- Asian and Nerdy: It doesn't get much nerdier than running the JPL.
- Bring My Brown Pants: After learning that Watney's plants are dead, and that his team now has even less time to prepare a probe, Bruce ends the call and announces he needs a change of clothes while adjusting his belt.
- The Engineer: He and the entire JPL. From tech support millions of miles away to kitbashing several satellites in succession with ever shrinking deadlines, Bruce and his team will get it done.
- Scotty Time: One of the more realistic ones in fiction. He first recommends that he needs 6 months to build a probe to send supplies to Mark, and is then told by Teddy to build it in 3 months. Then he's informed that he needs to finish it in 60+ days when the Hab explodes, and then told to build another probe in 28 days after Iris blows up. Fortunately, his team doesn't need to build a whole probe after Hermes goes back to rescue Mark.
A NASA astrodynamicist who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Black and Nerdy: Brilliant astrodynamicist who is the one to come up with the plan that rescues Watney in the end.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He behaves erratically and doesn't know who the director of NASA is. Is nevertheless a steely-eyed missile man.
- Character Tics: In the movie (especially the Extended Edition), he has a tendency to wring his wrist when he's working on his calculations.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: In a movie featuring the weirdo that is Mark Watney, he is several orders of magnitude weirder.
- Genius Ditz: He is clumsy, socially inept, and seems only vaguely aware of the NASA hierarchy, or even his own workplace hierarchy, but he excels at the trajectory calculations that are the key part of his job.
- Must Have Caffeine: He is depicted to be a caffeine addict.
- No Social Skills: In the book, he's not used to talking to people. In the movie, he cluelessly uses the Director of NASA as a prop. In the Extended Edition DVD, it's revealed his colleagues are scared to go into his office.
A computer engineer who is the NASA pointman in restoring communications with Watney.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: When Venkat/Vincent asks whether they are receiving their first pictures from Mars, Tim responds by saying that yes, but they would rather look at a black screen instead of a vibrant red planet. note
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is acerbically rude to the Director of Mars Operations, but gets to keep his job because he's the JPL's best computer tech guy.
- Deadpan Snarker: Just don't ask him annoying questions.
- Jerkass: Possibly the meanest character in the entire story. When Venkat/Vincent and the JPL are just about to receive their first transmissions from Mark with an ancient kit-bashed communications array, all Tim can do is snark and complain at their incessant questions.
Head of the CNSA.
- Honor Before Reason: Agrees to the plan to give up the Taiyang Sheng booster to help rescue Watney. note .
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As a Chinese government official, when he learned the Taiyang Shen booster could reach Mars and thus aid the American rescue mission, he should have informed the Chinese government and allowed them to make the decision on how to proceed. Instead he calls the Director of NASA personally to offer aid in the spirit of scientific cooperation between space agencies, and force the US and Chinese governments to go along with it or lose face on an international scale.
- What You Are in the Dark: Muses that if he chooses not to offer the Taiyang Sheng booster, no one will ever know that they had the chance to help save Watney and thus would never blame him. He elects to help save him anyway.
A deputy researcher at the CNSA under Guo Ming.
- Gender Flip: Was male in the novel, but female in the movie.
- Honor Before Reason: Suggests the plan to give up the Taiyang Sheng booster to help rescue Watney - and in the novel it's mentioned that it's doubtful that the Chinese government would ever pony up the money needed to build a replacement. note
- What You Are in the Dark: He's unhappy about how offering the probe booster will severely impact his project but he's the one to suggest it in the first place.