The filmmaker became a fan of the American Civil War captain as a child after reading all about the fictional character’s adventures on Mars in his friends’ comics and author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Bursoom series, and he eagerly anticipated the stories being one day adapted for film.
The movie came close to being made by Iron Man director Jon Favreau in 2006, but he subsequently dropped out of the project when Paramount Pictures lost the rights to the film.
So Stanton decided to start campaigning to take John Carter’s story to Hollywood himself.
He tells WENN, “My brothers and I all could draw and we’d always go over to friends’ houses who could draw. They were drawing what I now know are Tharks, these four-armed tusk characters (from John Carter comics). I’d be like, ‘What the heck are those?’ and they told me about the comic books and so I started reading them and then I got led to the books.
“From then on until about 2006, we’re talking almost 30 years, I pretty much spent that time just waiting for somebody to make the movie. I just wanted to see it. I never planned I was going to make movies. When it got close to being made with Favreau I was one separation away from artists that were making it and getting the scoop that it was gonna happen and getting really excited about it.
“When it fell through and went back to the estate, I was really crestfallen. I just happened to have had a serendipitous phone call while making Wall-E with the head of Disney at the time. I said to him, ‘Maybe if I’m not a one-hit wonder after I finish Wall-E, would you consider have (sic) me make it (John Carter) and if you don’t you should buy it and have somebody make it. It would be a crime if it’s not out there.’ A month later they bought the three books and asked me to do it! It was a long time coming; I would never have expected it.”
Stanton’s John Carter features Taylor Kitsch as the title character, alongside Willem Dafoe, Lynn Collins and Dominic West, and is due to be released in March (12).