Having put the final touches on a brilliant cast, John Carter of Mars is getting underway at Disney. Edgar Rice Burroughs' epic series has seen a lot of stops and starts over the years, and it's still unbelievable that it's actually happening. But at this point, it's still shrouded in pre-production mystery, but Ain't It Cool News wheeled a little information out of Willem Dafoe about his role as Tars Tarkas, a great Martian warrior and eventual ally of Carter. (Do AICN's Capone a favor and read the whole interview when you're done here. It's excellent.)

Dafoe revealed to Capone that he doesn't know much more than you or I might, but his enthusiasm for Tarkas and for Andrew Stanton is contagious. "I've seen a lot of the designs and things, and I've just started to do prep work now. I'm doing a play in New York, so I'm kind of preoccupied by that, but I'm starting doing scans and things like that, but it's going to be a real full-on ... Well, I'm nine feet tall with four arms, but, just from the scheduling, I'm going to do the stuff ... They'll use my face, but they'll enhance it in a way --both after and before-- in a way that I may not be recognizable. But, I'm good with that. It's particularly cool, because he's a creature, but he's got this huge range of character. And, he does cool things in the movies." As John Carter will be coming on the heels of all James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, and Disney's Davy Jones' "game changing" technology, the possibilities of what this could look like are pretty enticing.

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Andrew Stanton and his cast are still working out the finer points of their exotic characters, and Dafoe revealed that it'll be an extensive process beyond extra limbs and CG enhancements."There's a whole period where we're going to work with the language and the movement, and find out how I'm going to be nine feet tall, and all that stuff ... like, a long period of time where we're going to go to Thark school, you know what I mean? We're going to create our culture. So, it's going to be very cool. These guys know how to do this."

Well, now I want to spend a day in Thark school. Every bit of news from John Carter of Mars has been good, but my gut says there's going to be no in-between when it comes to the final product. It'll either be as wonderful as Lord of the Rings (yes, I will throw labels like that around) or it'll be an utter disaster that people will shake their heads over for years and years to come.