The space planet Mars has taken its punches over the years. Somehow, as far as Hollywood is concerned, it's never the little purple men from Saturn who invade Earth - it's always the green men from Mars. 

The movie Mission To Mars – was released on Friday 14th April in the UK – is another poke in the eye for the Martian tourist board, with its special effects and myths about spooky humanoid faces carved on to the surface of the planet, and that. It seemed as good a time as any to inform, educate and BRAINWASH ALL EARTHLINGS ABOUT THE SUPERIOR PLANET. ALL HUMANS MUST ABSORB THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ABOUT THE PLANET MARS TO PREPARE THEM FOR THE FORTHCOMING INVASION. And so on.

  1. The planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war. But before Mars became associated with killing and pillaging he was an agricultural god interested only in ploughing and scattering. Blame the Greek influence - their god Ares needed an equivalent in Italy, so a group of influential Roman philosophers, probably pissed on the good red wine they kept away from the plebs, gave Mars the job. Mars bars may have been named after the god of war too, but only because of the game soldiers play with them when in their barracks together - lights out at 10/Mars bars out at 11.

  2. The first spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Others since then have included the originally-named Mars 2, then the Vikings in 1976, and the Pathfinder in 1997. The Vikings' mission was to determine if there was, or had ever been, life on Mars. The results were ambiguous, but most scientists agree there have never been any living things on the planet. Though X-Files fans would be the first to point out only two samples were taken, and not from the most favourable locations. They would probably also quote OJ Simpson-starring conspiracy movie Capricorn One as more proof, the optimistic, romantic, deluded fools

  3. For all its potential for terraforming, Mars is hardly a "space Ibiza". Temperatures vary from a pleasant enough 27C (80F) on the dayside of the planet in summer to -133C (-207F) in winter. The average is a decidedly not "shorts weather" 55C (-67F). And while there was once water on the surface, there hasn't been any thing to splash around and impress foreign women in for four billion years. And there's probably only one nightclub, and it's probably rank, and full of fucking space wankers, trying to pull all the least-minging space birds.

  4. Surprisingly, Earth and Mars and pretty similar in a lot of ways. Both planets used almost all of their carbon dioxide to form rocks when taking shape, but unlike the Earth, Mars lacked the ability to recycle the Co2 back into the atmosphere; not enough Co2, and not enough of a greenhouse effect to raise the planet's temperature. The pressure on Mars is less than 1% of Earth’s, but this is enough to produce winds and dust storms that can cover the planet for months. The land surface area of the two planets is almost the same, despite Earth being bigger. That’s just stupid.

  5. On August 6, 1996, scientist David McKay announced the first identification of organic compounds from a Martian meteorite. He claimed the compounds, along with other rock samples, may contain evidence of Martian micro-organisms - and therefore, Martian life. Still, fear not. It would take billions of micro-organisms to even lift a Martian raygun, let alone aim it and pull the trigger.

  6. Gulliver's Travels author Jonathan Swift referred to Mars' two moons in his most famous book, written in 1726. Amazingly, the two moons were not discovered until 1877 and fitted exactly with the patterns of orbit described by Swift - so either it was just a lucky coincidence, or Swift was a Martian. Or he knew of famous physicist Kepler's blind assumption that, because Venus has no moons and Earth has one, Mars must have two. And even more stupidly (given the excellence of hindsight) he thought Kepler must be right.

  7. The origins of Martians as little green men probably came from Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs' book A Princess On Mars (1917). He refers to the "green men of Mars" in this first book of his Martian Tales series of 11 novels. The Oxford English Dictionary says Rudyard Kipling is responsible for the term "little green men", having used it in Puck Of Pook Hill (1906), though the green men Kipling referred to were human men tattooed green, and not sadistic killers hellbent on invading Earth.

  8. Recent movies to visit Mars include Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (1996), with its visions of maniacal killers with guns enslaving, killing and experimenting on humans. Their weakness was yodelling, which was really stupid. Total Recall had a few scientific flaws with its depiction of the Red Planet, but to be fair it was the movie which kick-started the career of Sharon Stone. The finale saw Arnold Schwarzenegger liberate the atmostpheric gases and water from beneath the planet's surface. Should Arnie ever find himself on Mars in a real-life situation, he shouldn't hold his breath waiting to find them. Then again, as he wouldn't be able to breathe, maybe he should.

  9. Older movies about Mars are among the worst ever. Planet Of Blood (1966) saw Dennis Hopper and Basil Rathbone rescue an alien from a crashed ship on the surface - only to have her recover and kill them all. Mars Needs Women (1966) saw Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig as the scientist chosen by invading Martians as one of the females in the title. And they didn't need her just to do the washing up neither. Batman himself, Adam West, also featured in a Martian movie of his own. He co-starred in Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964), which saw a lone man and his pet monkey stranded on the planet. In 1954, it was the males who were in danger, in Devil Girl From Mars. A leather-clad Patricia Laffa came to Earth with a robot pal to capture Earthmen and take them back home to mate with them. She was pretty tasty, so she probably would have had fair results by just posting a lonely-hearts advert rather than killing and maiming her way to a shagfest. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964) saw Saint Nick himself teach the meanie Martians the true meaning of Christmas, and concluded with the little green men singing "We love you, Santy Claus".

  10. But not all Martian films are rubbish. The War Of The Worlds, based – loosely – upon the HG Wells story which famously caused all of America crap its pants thanks to Orson Welles' radioplay broadcast in 1938, won an Oscar for special effects. Well known as a thinly-vieled propaganda film against Cold War Soviets, the Ruskis too used The Red Planet (oh-ho!) for their brainwashing purposes. In the 1924 film Aelita: Queen Of Mars, engineer Los - an enemy of the people - builds a spaceship, kills his care worker wife and flees into space to marry Aelita, ruler of capitalistic Mars. But then he wakes up and it's all a dream - and the audience probably felt cheated even then.

  11. Contrary to popular opinion, the Mars bar is not a gin joint for thirsty aliens, but a popular chocolate snack available in over one hundred countries throughout five continents. However, for some stupid reason, the Mars bar is known in America as a Milky Way, while what British consumers know as a Milky Way bar is known in America as a Three Musketeers bar. Mars Incorporated was started by Frank C. Mars – a human candy salesman – and his human wife, Mrs Frank. Together they started a candy-making business from the kitchen of their home in Tacoma, Washington, in 1911. European operations began in 1932, under the watchful eye of Forrest E. Mars Sr., in Slough, England. Forrest pioneered M&Ms chocolate chips, and also sold pet food products through Mars UK. Nowadays, as well as dog food, Mars make Tunes throat sweets, pizzas, and Uncle Ben’s rice. We used to know a guy who worked at Mars, and he said all the employees used to get given prototype chocolate bars to try out, and one time he was given a white chocolate Mars bar that never came to the market, and another time he was at work and he done poo poo in the toilet but there weren’t no toilet paper in there and he had to go into the next cubicle, and as he was walking from one to another with his pants round his buttocks some guy walked in and asked “What’s going on?” And also, Mars bars used to come in these black, waxy paper wrappers that you could tear up and put on your teeth and make it look like you had teeth missing, but they’ve changed the wrapper now.

  12. One – possibly apocryphal – rock legend tells how, during a 1967 police raid upon Rolling Stone Keith Richard’s Redlands estate, police burst into a bedroom expecting to find drugs, but instead found Mick Jagger eating a Mars Bar, while it was partially inserted into the delightful minge of celebrity groupie Marianne Faithful. However, in her autobiography, Faithful denied it ever happened, claiming that the police had invented the whole sordid incident, saying: “It's a dirty old man's fantasy. A cop's idea of what people do on acid.”

  13. Also, though there’s no way either of these tales are true of course, Richard Gere had to go to hospital to have a gerbil removed from his anus, and former Soft Cell singer Marc Almond had to have TEN PINTS of dog semen pumped from his stomach. Except, of course, that’s not even tenuously related to Mars.


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