Ridley Scott's The Martian ruled the weekend box office with a $55 million debut. With that commercial success, in addition to all of the rave reviews of the new film starring Matt Damon as NASA astronaut Mark Watney — who is stranded on Mars — The Martian is sure to be a movie that will be remembered long after it leaves theaters.
But let's not forget how The Martian initially launched. Author Andy Weir first wrote The Martian as a free serial novel, posting one chapter at a time to his website. Then, the book became a top-selling sci-fi book on Amazon, was picked up by a major publishing house and became a New York Times bestseller.
So here we are. The Martian was a much-buzzed-about book, and it quickly became a much-buzzed-about movie.
Overall, the movie version of The Martian is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel. It evokes much of the same suspense, science and sense of humor as the book.
Of course, with any book-to-film adaptation there are bound to be some major changes made during the translation process, and The Martian is no different. You can't expect everything to make it onto the big screen because it just probably wouldn't work as a movie, or if nothing else, it'd be a really long film to watch in one sitting.
Judge for yourself what should and should not have been left in the film adaptation of The Martian by checking out the biggest differences between the book and the movie below. And yes, there are MAJOR SPOILERS for both the book and movie versions of The Martian ahead, so avert your eyes if you're not into that sort of thing.
This Character Got A Name Change
In the book version of The Martian, the director of the mission to Mars goes by the name of Venkat Kapoor and is Hindu. His name also implies that he is of Indian descent or origin. The movie version of The Martian changes this slightly, instead giving the character the name Vincent Kapoor and pointing out that he is half-Hindu, half-Baptist. The character is also played by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the movie, a British actor who is of Nigerian descent.
Watney Doesn't Face This Hardship
As you can probably imagine, trying to survive on Mars all by yourself is not easy, and in some ways, that was even harder for Watney in the book version of The Martian. One reason for this is because in one instance about two-thirds of the way through the book, Watney's drill malfunctions, causing power to a vehicle that provides communication between him and NASA to be cut off. The movie features many obstacles for Watney as he tries to return to Earth, but not this one, which was a particularly melancholy moment for the usually cocky astronaut.
We Don't See This Dark Moment With Beth Johanssen
The Martian movie doesn't dive as deeply into the backstories of Watney's fellow crewmembers that leave him behind on Mars as the book does. One of the novel's most memorable moments involves crew member Beth Johanssen, but it didn't make it into the movie. Maybe that's because it might have been too dark and creepy for this generally optimistic film. After she and her fellow crew members decide to go back to save Watney, Johanssen has a conversation with her understandably worried father. In an effort to assuage his concerns, Johanssen tells him that since she is the smallest and can survive on the least amount of food, the other crew members have elected her to be the survivor if anything goes wrong, meaning that the rest would all take pills and die so Johanssen could have all of the supplies to herself. She also implies that she would be able to eat her dead crew mates' bodies for another source of food to survive until the end of the mission. I told you this moment is dark and creepy.
Watney Escapes Another Storm
It's a massive sandstorm that gets Watney into this whole mess on Mars in the first place. Later in the book, another dust storm heads Watney's way, but NASA is unable to warn him about it. Eventually, Watney figures out that the storm is approaching, and overcomes that obstacle, but it does make for an especially nerve-racking part of the book that is absent from the movie.
Commander Melissa Lewis Gets More Of The Spotlight
Though all of Watney's crewmates are instrumental in rescuing him in the end, it's Chris Beck who really does the heavy lifting and brings Watney back to the spacecraft in the book. However, in the movie version of The Martian, this is Commander Melissa Lewis' (Jessica Chastain) time to shine. Not only does this make the most epic moment of the movie more poetic since, as the leader of the crew, Lewis feels responsible for abandoning Watney on Mars, but it also gives more screen time to the most famous actor among those playing the crew members. It seems likely that both of these points were a part of the rationale to make this change from the book to the movie.
We Find Out What Happens To The Characters In The End
The book version of The Martian essentially ends with Watney's rescue. The movie version of The Martian takes that a step further by providing an epilogue for the characters, showing what happened to them some time after the Mars mission ended. For instance, we see Watney training astronauts, Beck and Johanssen having a baby and Rick Martinez lifting off to take part in another space mission. But isn't that just like a book to make you wonder what happens next and just like a movie to fill in the blanks?