New John Carter featurette focuses on the princess

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to film adaption is the way literary characters are portrayed on the big screen.

In contrast, modern movie audiences understand that liberties will be obviously be taken in regards to the plot, and especially to its pacing, since films require an entirely different cadence than novels, and for good reason. 

However, the characters can usually be taken wholesale from the original source material without damaging the plot – so when the filmmakers choose to alter the characters, they better have good reason.

In John Carter, it’s been made quite clear through various trailers and featurettes that Dejah Thoris, the title character of the book the film is based on, A Princess of Mars, is not portrayed quite as Burroughs depicted her. It’s common for filmmakers to update women’s level of independence to represent a more modern take on the woman in danger, or, at least, to create an intentional subversion of the ‘damsel in distress’ trope – though that subversion is easily a well-used trope itself by now. As with any subversion, it can be done well, or it can be poorly executed.

Played by Lynn Collins, whom I had little faith in when I first heard she had been cast, this version of the character seems to have struck a fine balance. She’s ‘warrior princess’ enough to give the late 1800’s American guy a moment’s pause, but she’s ‘damsel in distress’ enough to show tenderness, and to be astounded by the protagonist, and fall for him across the plot arc.

This new featurette from Disney shows a few more moments of the Dejah Thoris of the film which we haven’t seen yet, while providing some brief sound bites from both Collins and her co-star Taylor Kitsch, who plays John Carter himself.

The latest synopsis is thus:

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes “John Carter” – a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). “John Carter” is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

John Carter lands in theaters on March 9, 2012.