The Pixar Showdown: "John Carter" vs "M:I 4"


The first trailer for Disney's adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars is finally here, which gives us an idea of how Finding Nemo and Wall-E director Andrew Stanton's first live-action movie will look like. He's not going to be the only Pixar braintrust member to have a live-action movie coming out in the next year, though. The Incredibles and Ratatouille director Brad Bird is helming Tom Cruise's new Mission: Impossible movie. So now we have the first trailers for each movie, which one of these two animation giants will successfully transition to the land of living actors?


  • In terms of "first movie" ambition, this certainly wins out over a Mission: Impossible sequel.
  • Spy Kids and World's Greatest Dad's Daryl Sabara at the beginning of the trailer there is playing a teenage Edgar Rice Burroughs, making it obvious that the author really is the nephew of John Carter.
  • Stanton seems to really like Peter Gabriel. The song in the trailer is his cover of Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage." Gabriel previously wrote the theme song to Stanton's Wall-E.
  • Then again, that song gives the trailer a great mood to it, making it seem like the exotic romance adventure that it is, rather than just mindless action sci-fi.
  • I'm loving the Western influences that are present, but that makes the Mars landscape look even more like Arizona than it probably should. Maybe that's the point?
  • The fact that the movie is just called John Carter instead of John Carter of Mars is a little silly, yes, but could it also be telling? Burroughs' depiction of Mars is outdated in today's more advanced understanding of the planet, so maybe Carter won't be on Mars at all. Maybe the planet Barsoom is not what the native Martians call Mars, but rather a new planet entirely.
  • "Disney's John Carter"? Really? That's kind of insulting.
  • Stanton is actually not the only Pixar person on the project. He wrote the screenplay himself, collaborating on the script with Mark Andrews, who is directing Pixar's next film Brave. Andrews is also reportedly the second unit director on this film. They are joined on writing duties by author Michael Chabon.


  • It's the anti-thesis to the John Carter trailer. This one doesn't evoke any sense of the film's mood and tone at all. It's basically just people punching and shooting set to pop music.
  • The set-pieces shown seem to be rehashes from the previous three movies. The climbing, the maneuvering next to a glass building, the famous falling down ventilation over fans bit.
  • There are a lot of stuff in those quick shots that look potentially great, though. The random punching and shooting look like they have some power behind them, which will be fun, and that car crash in the dust cloud has the inklings of a great action scene. Brad Bird used a similar device in an action scene in The Incredibles, which was fantastic.
  • Bird just seems like a great fit for this project, as weird as it is if you only think of him as an animation director. But look at the kind of stuff he did in The Incredibles: the tense airplane sequence, Helen Parr sneaking into Syndrome's lair, etc.
  • It's a switcheroo that Mark Andews is working on Andrew Stanton's film, since at Pixar, he is usually paired with Brad Bird. Andrews was Bird's buddy at CalArts and worked on Bird's The Iron Giant. It was Bird who got Andrews into Pixar in the first place, bringing him in as a story supervisor on The Incredibles.
  • Dash, Ghost Protocol sounds like a Tom Clancy game. Appropriate, I guess.
  • Despite the trailer, the people involved really show promise. Brad Bird, JJ Abrams, Christopher McQuarrie, and then there's the cool cast: Jeremy Renner, Tom Wilkinson, Josh Holloway. And Simon Pegg! Glad to see that he's getting a much bigger role than what he had in the third movie.

So which is better? This early in the game, John Carter shows a lot more promise, but we'll see. Stanton has the benefit of establishing his own world to play with, produced by Disney, a company he's no stranger to. On the other hand, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has more potential to succeed with audiences, and it is speculated that Bird may be using this film as a platform to prove himself so he can get the greenlight on projects he's really passionate about, the same way Abrams springboarded off of Mission: Impossible III into Star Trek, which allowed him to properly do his pet project Super 8.

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for


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