The 2015 hit The Martian told the story of Matt Damon getting shanked in the guts by a broken piece of metal and then touching his friends’ poop to survive. But did you know the film almost had one really gross scene in it?
Let’s back up a little. The Martian is a far-fetched flight of fancy that imagines a magical world where NASA still has a budget, which they use to send people to Mars. While out on the planet’s surface, their crew gets hit by a sudden storm which seemingly kills their botanist/engineer (botaneer) Mark Watney, played by Damon, when he’s hit by flying debris. The other astronauts evacuate the planet, leaving the still alive Watney on Mars, where he now has to survive alone by establishing contact with Earth and growing potatoes using his coworker’s leftover waste as fertilizer until someone can come and get him.
In the end, Watney, of course, gets rescued by his crew, who, instead of returning to Earth, slingshot around the planet and head back to Mars, picking up supplies from a booster rocket along the way. In the movie, the supply pickup scene is actually very fun and mellow. We see the astronauts communicating with their families while Starman plays, and the overall mood is optimistic and chill. It was VERY MUCH NOT THAT in the original book.
In Andy Weir’s novel, a huge emphasis is put on the fact that the astronauts’ U-turn maneuver makes it impossible for them to land on Earth and that if they don’t get those resupplies, they will be flung towards Mars without enough food to survive the trip. The computer specialist Beth Johanssen, played in the movie by Kate Mara, tells her dad that in a private chat from aboard her ship while reassuring him that whatever happens, she will survive. In Chapter 19, she explains that the mission leader chose her to be the sole survivor in case something goes wrong and they fail to dock with the supply rocket. If that happens, the rest of the crew will apparently “all take pills and die. They’ll do it right away, so they don’t use up any food.”
The movie does away with that not because the audience doesn’t want to think about Watney’s only hope potentially turning into a flying sci-fi recreation of Jonestown, but because it would actually have been a flying sci-fi recreation of Leatherface’s dining room. Immediately after telling her dad about the crew’s suicide pact, Beth adds that their death still wouldn’t leave her with enough food. “So how would you survive?” her dad asks. Beth then utters this horrifying line: “The supplies wouldn’t be the only source of food.”
Yup. The plan was for Kate Mara’s character to become a space cannibal in order to survive. At least in the physical sense. No one would be able to mentally get over the whole world knowing you’re only alive because you ate a whole bunch of ass (and not in the good way).
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Top Image: 20th Century Studios