Audience-Alienating Premise: Some people who didn't want to watch the movie said they couldn't buy into the premise of a former Confederate soldier who goes to Mars and dresses like Conan. Furthermore, the source material has been copied so much that the official adaptation succumbed to "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny. These factors contributed to the movie's Box Office Bomb status, and ensured that the planned trilogy never materialized.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: It had the biggest opening day ever and the fourth biggest opening weekend ever in Russia while the American opening was mild. The Russian first-week gross amounted to $16.6 mln, or 56% of the U.S. gross; given the huge difference in cinema attendance figures and infrastructure between the two countries, it really is a spectacular achievement.
The cries of the just-hatched baby Tharks are... unsettling, to say the least...
In the climax, one of the Thern's turns Sab Than to that blue weblike stuff. And then his head caves in. And then he almost does it to John.
And the White Apes. Picture a giant albino King Kong with six limbs, no eyes and a wide tusked mouth like a hippo, and a vicious temper to boot.
Older Than They Think: The source material of this film inspired hits such as Star Wars and Avatar. Or inspired the works which inspired them. Yes, the "John Carter"-novels have been around for that long. In fact, Superman was basically a Captain Ersatz of John Carter himself, when he first debuted (just coming from an alien planet to Earth instead of the other way around).
The film's marketing, in a last-gasp attempt to drum up interest, played up this trope, with a TV spot that declared "Before Avatar...before Star Wars...there was John Carter."
One-Scene Wonder: Kantos Kan (played by James Purefoy) doesn't have much to do besides act as Number Two to his king, but he gets the spotlight when he helps John escape one of the several times he's taken prisoner or detained.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Source of many claims the film is a ripoff of more recent fiction such as Avatar and The Last Samurai. The book series its based on was first published in 1912 and in fact inspired many of the works John Carter was accused of ripping off; the trouble is that by the time the film adaptation came out in 2012 (a century later), almost everything about it had already been done in dozens of other works ingrained in pop culture.
Signature Scene: The scene where Carter fights off an entire army of Warhoons intercut with his flashbacks to the death of his family. Even people who hated the movie frequently admit that it was an awesome scene, not to mention being extremely powerful.
Tainted by the Preview: Another reason cited for the movie's failure was a combination of bad marketing decisions — Disney didn't want to include the word "Mars" in the title because of the bad blood generated by Mars Needs Moms, and Andrew Stanton refused to let them use "From the creator of Tarzan and the director of WALL-E" as a blurb. Because Stanton didn't shoot scenes that would look good in the trailer or need extensive effects work first, the original teaser trailer was a mishmash of shots that didn't adequately convey what the final movie would look like.
Visual Effects of Awesome: From the aliens, to the backdrops of Mars, the film packs an amazing visual flair. Appropriate due to the fact that the director is from Pixar.