The Stories Of The John Carter Sequels That Will Never Get Made [Comic-Con]

"John Carter" was the blockbuster franchise that never happened. In 2012, after studios spent decades of trying to adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs' influential sci-fi novel series, Disney finally released "John Carter," an overstuffed, poorly received, big-budget movie starring Taylor Kitsch. Despite being a totally okay movie, "John Carter" bombed, taking any ideas writer-director Andrew Stanton may have had for future sequels down with it.

It turns out, Stanton didn't just have some ideas for future installments: He had the entire movies plotted out. At San Diego Comic Con this weekend, /Film's Jacob Hall was on the ground covering Collider's Directors on Directing panel, where Stanton shared the exhaustive details of two scrapped "John Carter" sequels. In a panel moderated by Collider's Steven Weintraub, Stanton shared his synopses with fellow panelists Tim Miller ("Deadpool") and Chad Stahelski ("John Wick"), as the titles for the would-be films flashed across the screens of Hall H.

Gods of Mars

According to Stanton, the second "John Carter" film, titled "Gods of Mars," would begin by revealing what had happened to Carter's wife Dejah (Lynn Collins) while he was away on Earth at the end of the first movie. In the outline, Dejah has Carter's baby, but it's kidnapped by the villain Matai Shang (Mark Strong). By the time Carter arrives back on Mars, Dejah has left to travel downriver, "convinced it will lead her to the Therns and their stolen child."

Apparently, at this point Carter would reunited with Willem Dafoe's Thark, Tars Tarkas, and the pair would follow the river to an underground city run by a religiously zealous group called the First Born. Stanton revealed that "they're technologically advanced beyond here or Mars and they've been managing the planet's existence since the beginning — water, air, food, plants that eat you." Additionally, they worship a deity that turns out to be none other than Matai Shang in shapeshifter mode.

The ambitious third act of the movie is a doozy: Carter finds out Matai Shang has "genetically advanced" his kidnapped baby to adulthood, training him as a warrior with the goal of killing Carter. The hero exposes the villain as a false god, and everyone dukes it out on a dormant volcano surrounded by a helium air fleet. Carter manages to reunite with his son after almost killing him, and the film ends with the Red and Green Martians teaming up with the First Born to boot the Therns out of their home.

Warlord of Mars

As dense as "Gods of Mars" sounds, the series' unrealized third movie may be even more jam-packed. The final outing involves Carter trying to save both Mars and Earth, as Stanton says the Therns have "hid themselves at the Northern pole of mars where the original copies of their bodies are stored," and are now plotting to make Mars unlivable and take over Earth.

Despite being written years ago, the plans for "Warlord of Mars" include political commentary that's relevant today. Stanton explains that part of the movie would involve Thern spies shapeshifting into the form of other Mars leaders in order to cause infighting among their peoples, "much like Putin and bots right now." The only hope for calming the chaos long enough to save everyone comes via a device Dejah invents, which helps root out Thern shape-shifters. Unfortunately, the spies destroy it and assassinate Carter. What?!

Just kidding. What's a massive hero's journey movie without an eleventh-hour fakeout? It turns out, the Carter they kill is just a copy of his body, and his original is on Earth fighting off Thern pinkertons alongside Edgar Rice Burroughs (remember how he's a character in this movie for some reason?). At any rate, everything turns out okay: the real Carter secrets away back to Mars, where he, Dejah, and his son follow the Thern trail to the top of Mars and finally best Matai Shang once and for all.

As adventurous as these movies sound, the fact that they're being explained in full at Comic-Con 10 years later is evidence enough that they'll never, ever get made. But Stanton clearly still has love for the Burroughs stories, and as his fellow panelists point out, the novel series is officially in the public domain now. So who's ready to step up and try to make "John Carter" happen again? Anyone?