2. Does John Carter physically go to Mars or not? Apparently not. In the book, John Carter discovers a mysterious cave and travels to "Barsoom" via some kind of astral projection, but in the film, he inadvertently uses a piece of Thern technology. Apparently his real body remains on Earth in a form of suspended animation that resembles death. The fact that he's an avatar on Barsoom could explain his superpowers. It's not clear whether the Therns experience the same body-doubling when they use the gizmos, though.
3. Are the Therns actually from
Mars Barsoom? Matai Shang describes the Therns as behind-the-scenes manipulators of planets, and his words suggest that they're an alien race so ancient, they predate civilization on Barsoom and Earth. On the other hand, Matai Shang lies a lot.
4. Why do the Therns give warlord Sab Than that death ray? The Therns want to keep Barsoom in a state of perpetual conflict, rather than allow hot scientist Dejah Thoris to discover the power independently and learn its many advanced applications. They know Sab Than will just use it to blow up stuff. It's like giving nuclear science to someone who'll just use it for bombs, not energy and other things.
5. So why do the Therns insist Sab Than marry Dejah Thoris? Maybe, despite their advanced age and technology, the Therns just like royal weddings. But their stated reason is to use the royal wedding to ambush the city of Helium and kill Dejah and the other scientists, curtailing the planet's advancement. Also, it makes for a big last-minute wedding rescue.
6. Couldn't the Therns use their teleportation and shape-shifting abilities to accomplish all this? Um, I guess so...
7. Earlier, Carter reluctantly agrees to fight for the green martians to ensure Dejah Thoris' safety. The green martians make a big deal about this and name him "Dotar Sojat." But does he ever actually fight for the green martians? Now that you mention it, I don't think he does.
8. Why does the film establish Zodanga as a mobile "predator city," but never make use of its ambulatory nature? And what kind of name is "Zodanga," anyway? Look, I don't know! Stop hounding me!
9. Why does John's green martian friend Sola get such a hard time? She consistently shows compassion, which is frowned upon by the green martians and subject to harsh punishment. When she gave John the milky stuff that taught him martian languages, she wasn't just violating a cultural taboo, but being nice to him.
9. Is John Carter a parallel for Jesus Christ? High-school literature class taught us to look out for messiahs or martyrs with the "J.C." initials, like Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath and Jim Conklin in The Red Badge of Courage. Edgar Rice Burroughs never treated the source much like a Christian allegory, but the film does make the point of having the main character die and be entombed, only to rise again.
10. Doesn't it end kind of like Avatar? In Avatar, the dying hero is restored to his alien/Avatar body and opens his eyes, but you don't know what happens. In John Carter, the hero simulates death and is restored to Barsoom in an avatar body, and you don't know what happens then, either. So it's close.
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