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    Movie speculation before it was released 

The movie will contrive a way to kill off Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean's character)
  • Because we all know what happens to Sean Bean in movies. ;P
    • (I'm assuming the guy doesn't die in the book. I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to grab a copy ASAP) — Pyre Vulpimorph
      • Correct. Mitch doesn't even come close to being in danger of death in the novel, since he works comfortably from Earth.
      • Spoiler: Nobody dies in the book... at all
      • Or maybe immediately after Mitch is shown golfing in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue he was struck and killed by a golf cart.
  • Jossed.

Some events will be dropped/changed to tighten up the narrative.
  • Most likely we'll lose the the subplot of the loss of the first Iris probe and the Chinese offering their booster to use to launch Iris 2, and all the mucking about with Mark cutting up the Hab to create his "bedroom" for the trip to Schiaparelli. We also might get a greatly compressed version of his mapping of the sandstorm to drive around it.
  • Confirmed - though the Chinese subplot remains, the sandstorm is excised entirely, he doesn't short out and lose the Pathfinder cutting communications again, and Mark never mentions a bedroom for the rover. Nor does he flip the rover attempting the descent into Schiaparelli crater.

The Martian will have a soundtrack which has several pieces of 70s music and Disco.
  • In the book, Mark Watney is left with a large collection of 70s music thanks to Commander Lewis and plays it all the time because it's the only music he has. This would fit the tone of several scenes in the film, depending on which artists are chosen. "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees is a strong candidate thanks to its Shout-Out in the novel.
    • Unfortunately no "Stayin' Alive", but there was "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor instead.
      • Possibly "Stayin' Alive" is in a deleted scene.
  • This would make it kinda similar to Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Confirmed! Among the songs featured are "Starman" and "I Will Survive". Plus Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" for the part where he does repurposes the RTC as a cab heater.

The movie will actually be the prequel to Interstellar.
  • With Strong Family Resemblance in full play here. The Earth is beginning to suffer the blight that affects all crops on the planet, so NASA begins Project Ares to colonize Mars. Of course, that plan ended with Ares 3's Mark Watney incident, and all the cost that had gone in the effort to rescue Watney from Mars forced NASA to shut down, or rather, went underground per the President's orders. Watney himself went on to build a family that will eventually lead to the birth of his Identical Grandson Dr. Mann, while Commander Lewis's generations will lead to the birth of Cooper, who himself fathers his Generation Xerox daughter Murph. All of this, including the events happening in The Martian, are in fact engineered by the Fifth Dimensional beings in order to send Cooper into the black hole and ensures humanity's survival.
    • This fits fairly well, assuming the events between Interstellar and The Martian were spread out far enough. The rotational gravity and ion engines from Hermes would have been perfected in Endurance, and cryonic sleeping pods would have been invented as a result (thus giving astronauts more options when supplies ran low). According to somewhere, the Landers used in the Endurance mission were also built under the guise of being supply vehicles for future missions to Mars. If they were commissioned after the Ares 3 mission, it would make a lot of sense, since having a supply vehicle with that level of speed and maneuverability would have been very useful if a repeat of the Ares 3 mission occurred.

The film will focus more on the Ares crew, and less on Watney, than the book.
The trailers seem to focus largely on the Ares crew. In addition, while Watney's log worked in the book, I don't think it would translate well to the screen.
  • The movie actually focuses mostly on NASA and the people on earth when not on Watney, and he gets plently of screentime himself.

In-Universe, there will be a superstition about third manned missions being successful failures.
Apollo 13. Ares 3. Whoever's on the third mission to an asteroid, or wherever, will have a lot of people telling them to watch their backs.

Film Mark Watney is Dr. Mann from Interstellar
  • Similar to the above WMG, but with an ironic twist. NASA left him on Mars, but the first time, he felt there was some hope of being rescued, so his hopes were up. Later he faked his own death and changed his name when NASA went underground so he could continue to work without media attention. He became known as 'the best of us' due to his indomitable personality and sharp wit. He naively accepted another mission, feeling the urge to be a hero again after being cooped up on Earth for years working at mission control. But he arrived only to find that NASA left him on another cold, barren, toxic environment, this time with no hope of being rescued. Realizing that NASA left him to die on two planets in a row made him snap like a paper towel in a hurricane, and he became broken and bitter.
    • Maybe Watney, having grown potatoes in his own poop and Martian soil for months, is actually responsible for inadvertently creating the blight, and bringing it back to Earth...
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Everyone dies on Earth reentry.
Yes, it's a downer, but these folks bucked SO MANY ODDS.
  • Jossed six ways to Sunday - the epilogue shows all members of the crew, happily continuing their lives on Earth.
    • Please note the above WMG was written when we only had the book to go by. Book ends right after Watney gets back on the Hermes.
      • The first version of the book has a scene with Watney back on earth; it was removed for the published edition.

The initial storm was caused by outgassing.
There was a large pocket of trapped gasses in the surface of Mars nearby. Ares 3 had the misfortune of just happening to be there when it released — something NASA had never seen before on Mars, so they didn't expect it. That's why the winds for that storm were stronger than the normal storm Watney experiences later.

If the MCU exists in this world and Robert Downey Jr is still around, he's going to invite Mark out for lunch or something.
And Mark will get an Iron Man replica suit at some point. Because Rule of Cool.

The film is a prequel to Serenity.
This is the beginning of the US/Chinese joint space exploration that allows humanity to move away from Earth That Was and into the 'Verse.

The film is set in the Alien verse
As this is a Ridley Scott film and produced by 20th Century Fox, the Ares program represents mankind's first venture into outer space colonization, which is soon picked up by other enterprising corporations seeking to cash in, among them the Weyland Corporation. Plus, the EVA suits used by the Ares crew look awfully similar to the ones used in the Prometheus expedition.

There is life on Mars, but unseen.
They live underground and have been observing Mark the whole time to see if he can survive on his own without their help.

It will be a very, very long time before Mark actually enjoys a potato again
And even then, it'll be difficult.
  • Alternately, he never eats a potato ever again. And after his first few months back on Earth, he "gently" reminds everyone who's glad he's back and wants to show their support to "stop fucking sending me fucking potatoes, or I swear I'll fucking KILL YOU ALL."
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  • Or he accepts an endorsement from McDonald's and pitches their French fries, cashing in big and eventually retiring from NASA as a multimillionaire.
  • On a related note, Weird Al's "Addicted To Spuds" sends him into a homicidal rage.

Mark never has kids
Mars radiation, etc. Doubtful his gonads survived that.
  • Unless he had sperm frozen prior to the mission—a sensible precaution for an astronaut going on a long mission in a high-radiation environment, and one available today (let alone in the 2030's)
  • In the novel at least, Mark says that he hopes to one day be blessed with grandchildren because his experiences are the ultimate When I Was Your Age... story. So yeah, he at least expects to have kids, assuming he doesn't already.
    • Book!Watney has no children (and is implied to not be all that successful with women). In the movie it isn't mentioned either way.

The potatoes Mark had were near-future genetically modified potatoes.
Thus explaining how he could produce a crop without over-stressing the plants.
  • Not to mention how they can survive being refrigerated for 140 days.
Where did Ares 1 and 2 land?
I've not been able to find any background info on when the first two Ares missions landed. These are the locations I would pick if I were Vincent.
  1. Columbia Hills, named for each of the Columbia astronauts. One of their mission goals was to lay a plaque on each mound.
  2. Utopia Planitia, the location of the Mars shipyards in Star Trek. Needless to say, the super-nerds picked this one.
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NASA protocol and internal culture change radically after Ares 3
The improvisation of the Ares 3 crew as a whole and Watney in particular leads NASA to consider a more hands-off approach in lieu of its traditional obsessive micromanagement of manned space missions. As a result, future missions are given far more flexibility (which is why Martinez is in command of Ares 5 and Watney is in charge of astronaut training—to foster a culture of independent thinking and problem-solving). Future Ares missions focus more on life science on Mars, and Watney's inadvertent adventure leads to full-scale permanent colonization of Mars.
Confirmed - Weir and the authors of The Expanse confirmed that The Martian is part of the history of the Solar System in the later work.

The Martian environment is now compromised by Earth bacteria
Some of the bacteria on Watney's potato crop survived, so when he disposed of the dead plants outside the habitat, they were directly exposed to the Martian environment. The bacteria, using the biomass from the potato plants, will adapt to the Martian environment. Future human explorers will either find that Mars has been inadvertently terraformed, and/or die of a Martian-evolved disease.

Ares 3 landed on Mars in November 2037
The potatoes are marked 'Do Not Open Until Thanksgiving' implying their use in a Thanksgiving meal, which would be in late November for a predominantly American crew. Also, Watney's snarky comments about how no one in the history of mankind has ever had a disaster result from burning hydrogen come with the 100th anniversary of the Hindenburg explosion, which would have been about six months prior (and thus fresh in the minds of the general public, let alone people like astronauts who deal with hydrogen on a regular basis). Further, in November 2037 Mars is at opposition to Earth, making a launch date earlier that summer for optimal transit time and Earth-Mars communications time.
  • Close, but not quite correct. Ares 3 launched on July 7, 2035. They landed on Mars (Sol 1) on November 7, 2035. The story begins on Sol 6, which is November 12, 2035.
    • Yes, Andy Weir did research whether the dates worked with the orbits.

Future explorers will discover a race of mutant Martian potatoes descended from Watney's crop that survived and were changed by their exposure to cosmic radiation and the Martian soil.
In the craziest possible variation on this WMG, they're sentient mutant potatoes, and view Watney as their god.

The initial storm was caused by a comet entering the atmosphere
No evidence other than an outright impossible amount of wind and debris in the Martian air. The comet didn't hit the surface since there is no new impact crater seen by the orbiting satellite or encountered by Watney on his excursions.

The US will build a booster for China's Taiyang Shen probe.
Much lamenting is done by the Chinese space agency that their "beautiful probe" will never launch, because the government didn't want to cough up the funds in the first place. By way of apology, the US will build a booster to launch the probe, so all that hard work doesn't go to waste, and share all information equally with China, paving the way for more international cooperation in space exploration.

Future Martian colonists will recreate Watney's journey as a rite of passage.
With just some basic supplies and an "antique" rover, they'll travel from Acidalia Planitia to Schiaparelli Crater in honor of the man who first colonized Mars.

Ares 4 was scrubbed
Watney stole their MAV, after all, and there wasn't enough time and accuracy to get another there to make enough fuel before Ares 4 was due to arrive. And in the book, at least, Hermes was really starting to show strain for taking the Ares 3 crew to Mars and back twice, and likely needed a full overhaul and refit. The time and money was devoted to Ares 5 instead, and...

Ares 6 was authorized
Based on Watney's ordeal on Mars, Congress granted NASA funding for Ares 6. A much longer mission (say, a year or so) with a larger crew (say, ten or twelve) to attempt to actually grow food on Mars in a much larger and more robust Hab. With the MAV and Hermes standing by in case they have to bug out early, the Ares 6 crew's mission is to test, in "small" scale, the feasibility of sustainable, permanent human colonies on Mars.
Ares 4 became a flyby of Mars instead of a landing
So that the Ares 5 MAV could be delivered safely.
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