Why Jon Favreau is glad he's not directing John Carter

Long ago, Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau was slated to direct his own John Carter of Mars movie adaptation. Alas, the project was damned to development purgatory.

So what does Favreau think of Andrew Stanton's version of the film? How does he feel about seeing another director take it past the finish line. We asked him — and Favreau revealed he has a cameo in Stanton's movie.

While promoting Cowboys & Aliens Favreau sat down with a few journalists, including io9, and let the beans spill on a little John Carter secret.

There's some really optimistic stuff [in Cowboys & Aliens] as far as the racism of the time. Where did that come from?

Jon Favreau: We're not revisionist historians here. There is a lot of talk about people killing people and the Apaches and the scalps. We started off with images from the Blood Meridian right off the top. It's a dark world. Harrison Ford's story about what he witnessed as a child with the atrocities committed upon the settlers and the Indians are saying all these terrible things have come from the white people ... and they're [both] right.

Instead of making it like they're all playing nice together and they happen to be friends right off the bat ... even Harrison Ford and Adam Beach — who clearly have a very strong bond, stronger in many ways than he does with his own son — he's conflicted about that feeling. But yet, in his heart, he still looked after him like a son and is seen as such. So I think what's fun is to start them as far apart as you can and then...

I think it was Reagan who said during the Cold War that the only way the Russians and the Americans are going to get along is if aliens invade. A common enemy brings these people together, and I think that came from what I was playing with when I was working a version of John Carter of Mars, and there was this sense of very proud, stiff-necked people set in their differences that reluctantly come together and through that union are able to overcome odds and make the world a better place is a very moving theme.

Which we later followed up with this question...

Did you like the John Carter trailer?

Jon Favreau: I cameoed in John Carter, and they showed me footage. I have not seen [the trailer]. I saw a rough version, Andrew showed it to me. It's gonna be great. Just from what I've seen there. I remember meeting Willem Dafoe, and seeing what they're doing. I really feel — and you know it's very close to my heart — I'm [in] the chain of filmmakers who've passed the torch for a 100 years on this one. I'm really proud that somebody is doing it right. And seeing the scale of it, I'm really glad it's not me. It's a huge movie, a huge movie.

We love a director who isn't miffed by broken-down project, and we love that he's in Andrew Stanton's corner so much so that he's willing to cameo in the flick (but then again, Favreau is kind of a sucker for a good cameo, isn't he?) Check back for more from the Favs this week as we talk alien tech and other worldly things.

Full disclosure: Universal paid for io9's travel and expenses at this junket.