Mars in pop culture - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:53 am
Mars in pop culture

Our fascination with Mars is reflected in books, songs, movies and more, from TV's “My Favorite Martian” to the ubiquitous image of little green men. Some examples:

Music

“Life on Mars,” David Bowie, 1971. More of an examination of what's going on here on Earth, the song asks the question we've all wondered: “Is there life on Mars?”

“Ballrooms of Mars,” T. Rex, 1972. This glam-rock tune mentions the glitzy dance clubs on the Red Planet and name-drops Bob Dylan, Alan Freed and John Lennon. These ballrooms sound much like the ones on Earth, but spacier.

“Rocket Man,” Elton John, 1972. “It's lonely out in space,” indeed. Mars is cold and no place to raise a family, the rocket man tells us. Yeah, it wouldn't be our first choice.

“Teenagers From Mars,” the Misfits, 1978. Teenage behavior may often seem alien, but the ones in this song are invading and doing bad, bad stuff.

“Phone Home,” Lil Wayne, 2008. Dropping a reference to E.T., the artist says he's a Martian. “We are not the same,” he raps.

Movies

“Invaders From Mars,” 1953. In the heyday of space paranoia, a boy finds out Martians are taking over people's brains.

“War of the Worlds,” 1953 and 2005. For the original version, made at the height of the Cold War, Martian = Russian. Steven Spielberg's recent version stars Tom Cruise.

“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” 1964. “Mystery Science Theater” turned this awful movie into a cult classic.

“Total Recall,” 1990. Paul Verhoeven's version of the Philip K. Dick short story starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. A current remake deletes the Mars plotline.

“Mars Attacks!” 1996. Tim Burton's black sci-fi satire casts Jack Nicholson as the ill-fated president when an invasion terrorizes America.

“John Carter,” 2012. Taylor Kitsch stars as the hero of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels, an Earthling who gets caught up in an epic Martian power struggle.

Books

“The War of the Worlds,” H.G. Wells, 1898. The first major work to explore the concept of the extraterrestrial invader.

“The Martian Tales,” Edgar Rice Burroughs, circa 1917. Eleven novels describe the exploits of Civil War veteran John Carter, who winds up on Mars.

“Out of the Silent Planet,” C.S. Lewis, 1938. The beloved children's writer's version of Mars is a peaceful planet untouched by sin, where three races co-exist in harmony.

“The Martian Chronicles,” Ray Bradbury, 1950. One of the world's best science fiction authors flips the tables, having Earthlings invade Mars.

Mars trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson, 1993-96. Her recent sci-fi novels are perhaps the most realistic look at the colonization of Mars in literature.

“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” 1992. Author and relationship counselor John Gray used this metaphor to explain the fundamental differences between the genders. The self-help book spent 121 weeks on the best-seller list.

TV

“Marvin the Martian,” 1948. The comic figure of an intelligent Martian becomes a Looney Toons cartoon hit for Warner Bros., eventually airing on TV.

“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,” a “Twilight Zone” episode, 1961. In a diner, waiting bus passengers fear there's a Martian among them.

Bill Brixby and Ray Walston

“Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars,” 1954-55. A serial originally made for movie theaters in 1938, it aired on television and starred Buster Crabbe.

“My Favorite Martian,” 1963-66. Ray Walston was the guy with the antennae who crash-landed and is stuck on Earth. Bill Bixby was his landlord.

“Babylon 5,” 1994-2000. A Martian colony that fights for independence from Earth is a major plot element.

Comics

“Mars Attacks.” Later turned into a film, “Mars Attacks” was originally a trading card series in 1962. It's been turned into a comic book a few times. The most recent series launched in June and its first issue quickly sold out.

“Warriors of Mars.” Based on the John Carter character that appeared in an eponymous movie this year, “Warriors of Mars” has Carter meeting another Earth man, Gullivar Jones. The comic launched in February this year.

“Watchmen” One of this seminal graphic novel's most important scenes takes place on Mars, where the cosmically powerful Dr. Manhattan has a conversation about whether humanity deserves to be saved with his lover, Laurie Juspeczyk, aka Silk Spectre II.

Video games

“Red Faction.” Set in the late 21st century, this first-person shooter follows a Mars miner who leads a rebellion against the Ultor Corp. Sequels take place on Earth and on Mars.

“Doom.” A space Marine fights his way through military bases on the moons of Mars, where demons from hell have spawned. Sequels feature similar story lines.

“Mass Effect.” Mars is something of a backwater planet in the “Mass Effect” series, but ruins of an ancient space-faring race were found there.

Candy

Mars bar. It may taste out of this world, but the milk chocolate candy containing nougat, soft caramel and almonds is named for Frank C. Mars, who made Mars candies in the early 1900s. The Mars bar got a U.S. relaunch in 2010 after being discontinued in 2002.

Compiled by Bob Fischbach and Kevin Coffey

Read more related stories
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »