John Carter of Mars
John Carter is a fictional character, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who appears in Burroughs's Barsoom novels. Although he is actually a Virginian from Earth and only a visitor to Mars, he is sometimes known as "John Carter of Mars," in reference to the setting in which his major deeds are recorded. His character is enduring, having appeared in various media since his 1912 debut in a magazine serial. The 2012 Disney-made feature film John Carter marks the centenary of the character's first appearance.
Carter stands 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) and has close-cropped black hair and steel-grey eyes. Burroughs describes him as immortal. In the opening pages of A Princess of Mars, it is revealed that Carter can remember no childhood, having always been a man of about thirty years old. Many generations have known him as "Uncle Jack," but he always lived to see them grow old and die, while he remained young.
His character and courtesy exemplify the ideals of the antebellum South. A Virginian, he served as a captain in the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. After the war Carter struck it rich by finding gold in Arizona. While hiding from Apaches in a cave, he appears to die; leaving his inanimate body behind, he is mysteriously transported by a form of astral projection to the planet Mars, where he finds himself re-embodied in a form identical to his earthly one. Accustomed to the greater gravity of Earth, he is much stronger and more agile than the natives of Mars due to its lesser gravity.
On Mars, which its natives call Barsoom, Carter encounters both formidable alien creatures resembling the beasts of ancient myth and various humanoids. He finds his true calling in life as a warlord who strives to save the planet's inhabitants. He wins the hand of a Martian princess, Dejah Thoris of Helium, but after several years of marriage he sacrifices himself to save Barsoom from the loss of its atmosphere. Awakening again after this second death he finds he has been miraculously transported back to Earth, into his original body. Carter then collects the wealth that resulted from his discovery of a rich vein of gold ore right before his original passage to Barsoom. Unable to return to Mars, he spends several more years in a small cottage on the Hudson River in New York State, where he once more appears to die on March 4, 1886.
Again, Carter's apparent demise is not a true death; rather, he is restored to Barsoom, where after more adventures he rises to the position of Warlord of Mars. He returns to Earth on a number of occasions afterward to relate his adventures to his nephew ("Burroughs"), revealing that he has mastered the process of astral travel between the two worlds. During his adventures on Mars his earthly body reposes in a special tomb that can only be opened from the inside.
John Carter and Dejah Thoris become the parents of a son, Carthoris, and daughter, Tara. Carthoris plays a secondary role in The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, and is the protagonist of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Tara is the heroine of The Chessmen of Mars (1922), and the mother of Carter's granddaughter Llana, heroine of Llana of Gathol.