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John Carter's Long Road from the Civil War to the Silver Screen

One of the most anticipated motion pictures of the first half of this year is Disney’s John Carter. Slated for a March 9 release, the sci-fi/fantasy stars Friday Night LightsTaylor Kitsch as the title character, a Confederate soldier who is transported to Mars, where he becomes involved with the conflicts between the various nations of the planet -- known as “Barsoom” to its inhabitants.

John Carter boasts an impressive cast and crew. In addition to Kitsch, the film costars Bryan Cranston, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, and Dominic West. Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton directed and cowrote the script with Mark Andrews and noted author Michael Chabon. Emmy- and Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino wrote the score.

With so many big names involved in the production, as well as a budget soaring over $250 million, it’s no surprise that Disney aficionados and movie buffs have kept John Carter in their sights for a few years now (I can remember hearing about it as far back as the summer of 2008). With such anxious anticipation, the film has generated plenty of buzz, both positive and negative.

This movie’s circuitous road to the big screen is a fascinating one. It’s a long journey that encompasses a century and involves an array of twists and turns that befit an action epic. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The character of John Carter was the brainchild of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, best known as the creator of Tarzan. Burroughs’ first published work was the serialized novel Under the Moons of Mars, which he sold to All-Story Magazine for $400 in 1911, before he completed his first Tarzan novel. The novel first appeared in book form as A Princess of Mars in 1917. Burroughs expanded the saga of John Carter into a series of eleven books, including a two-novella collection published after his death.