Stanton spoke with EW at length last week about those mammoth white apes that open the new trailer, but who is that green tusked gentleman standing next to John Carter in the arena?
“His name is Tars Tarkas [played by Willem Dafoe] and he is the leader of the green-men tribe of Tharks,” explains Stanton. “He’s their Jeddak, which is the Martian term for ‘king’ or ‘leader.’ [But] there have been complications for the guy.”
“The other [main] species on Mars are the red men. They look like us, and they are called red men because they are of darker, copper complexion, but mainly they are covered in red tattoos. It’s just their culture. It’s how they historically document what goes on with each of them individually and what house they’re from and their lineage, in the same way of maybe the Maori tribes of the Pacific. There’s a big civil war going on between the red men, and the green men are basically staying out of it. They are a nomadic race that probably some time thousands of years earlier were the dominant race of the planet, but as history’s moved on, there’s been another empire of red men. There’s no love lost between both races when Carter [arrives on Mars].”
This city, called Helium, may look far more advanced than the rest of the planet, but according to Stanton, “It’s not a high-tech city. It’s just as old as the other cities. It just happens to be lived in [by a faction of red men], whereas the others are ruins.”
“Dejah Thoris [played by Lynn Collins] is the princess of Helium, and she is also the regent of science. She is basically between a rock and a hard place when we introduce her in the movie, and when you see her in this scene, she hasn’t believed for a long time that Carter is who he says he is and he’s from where he says he is.” But don’t ask what exactly she is doing in that ethereal-looking cave. “I can’t tell you anything!” laughs Stanton. “My joy when I saw the first trailer for Star Wars is I saw a little bit of almost everything in the movie, and I had no idea how it connected, and I had to go see the movie. So the last thing I’m going to do is ruin that little kid’s experience.”