How John Carter of Mars is the grandfather of Star Wars

02 March 2023

Originally, I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain all the rights. "So I began researching and found where (Flash Gordon creator) Alex Raymond got his idea: The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially his John Carter series of books. - George Lucas

Flash Gordon being the father of Star Wars then?

Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series has left an indelible mark on the science fiction genre. Burroughs' imagination brought to life a world beyond Earth. It introduced readers to unforgettable characters like John Carter, an American Civil War veteran who finds himself on the planet Mars, and Dejah Thoris, a Martian princess.

Burroughs' books became famous in the early 20th century, with the first book in the series, A Princess of Mars, being published in 1912. The books were widely read and continued to be popular well into the 20th century. They were praised for their adventurous plotlines, imaginative world-building, and memorable characters.

john carter of mars

George Lucas was particularly drawn to the adventurous spirit of the John Carter books, which he felt were imbued with a sense of excitement and daring that he wanted to capture in his own films. The story of John Carter, a man who finds himself transported to an alien world and forced to fight for survival against strange creatures and powerful foes, struck a chord with Lucas and his desire to create a sweeping space epic.

Furthermore, the character of John Carter himself may have also had an influence on Lucas' creation of Luke Skywalker. Both characters are brave and heroic figures who are thrown into a conflict much larger than themselves, and must navigate a strange and dangerous world to fight for what they believe in.

Lucas was a bit of magpie and cribbed Burroughs' ideas for his initial drafting process of The Journal of the Whills (which eventually became Star Wars).

Elements from the John Carter books can be seen throughout the Star Wars franchise. One of the most obvious similarities is the character of Princess Leia, who bears a striking resemblance to Dejah Thoris.

Both are strong female leaders who are not afraid to take charge and fight for what they believe in.

Slave Leia's metal bikini: The iconic costume worn by Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi has become known as the "slave Leia" outfit, due to the character's forced servitude to the villainous Jabba the Hutt.

It's considered that the design of this costume was influenced by the look of Dejah Thoris, the princess of Mars in the John Carter series, who often wore revealing and exotic clothing.

princess dejah thoris bikini comparison leia

The word Jedi also has its roots in the John Carter books. 

Burroughs used the term "Jeddak" to refer to the rulers of Martian city-states. Lucas changed the spelling slightly and used the term "Jedi" to refer to the Jedi Knights who use the Force in his Star Wars universe.

Arena battles, which are a major plot point in Attack of the Clones, were also inspired by the John Carter books. 

In A Princess of Mars, John Carter finds himself fighting in the Martian arena, battling for his life against fierce creatures and other opponents. In Attack of the Clones, the three leads find themselves in the same predicament.

dejah thoris sexy john carter film
Dejah Thoris, The Princess

dejah thoris john carter lyn collins
Dejah Thoris, Warrior Princess

The relationship between John Carter and Dejah Thoris parallels that of Leia and Han Solo. Both couples are from different worlds and initially clash, but eventually develop a deep love for each other. Both females are leaders of their people, battling an oppressive regime.

One could also observe the similarities between the characters of Han Solo and John Carter, who both embody a rugged and roguish hero archetype.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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