Why The Martian Doesn't Use The Book's Most Famous Line

The following contains spoilers for The Martian, so bail now if you still have not seen the film!

Andy Weir made sure that he set the tone for The Martian right off the bat. The first lines of his 2011 novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars are, "I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked." And yet, if you were one of the many who caught The Martian over the weekend, you didn’t get to hear those famous lines come from Matt Damon’s mouth. Did you wonder why?

We sat down with Drew Goddard, screenwriter of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, back when the movie made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. And shortly after my screening, I had multiple friends email me asking, specifically, if that line opened the film. It doesn’t – as you likely know – so I asked Goddard why he didn’t open his film that way. As much as he loved the optimism found in those opening words, Goddard had a very good reason for not using them, explaining:

Part of it is just how does dialogue flow when it’s coming out of an actor’s mouth. We had to establish… one of the challenges of the book is that it’s all told from first person in the Mark sections, and that, we had to come up with a device so that he could be sharing his thoughts with people. If you look at the way the movie has to get structured, you have to see that for the first time, so actually he can’t be recording himself talking about it… while he’s operating on himself, like, he can’t… it felt weird to just say it then. So, I felt like we got the spirit. Part of it is Matt can play it. He doesn’t need all the words. He can get, ‘I’m pretty much fucked’ across on his face, which is what, you know, gets a huge laugh every time.

That doesn’t mean Matt Damon doesn’t get to swear. In fact, his exasperated delivery of "Fuck you, Mars" might be my favorite joke in any film this year.

In a recent interview with HitFix, though, Andy Weir admits that he was "a little bummed" that Mark Watney (Damon) didn’t get to utter the famous line in the film, even if he understood the editing choices. Opening the movie with Damon in that situaion would have required an overhaul. Some things just work better on the page.

The Martian got off to a red-hot start at the box office over the weekend, opening to a massive $55 million, which just missed setting a new record for an October opening. We expect it to continue to play well in the coming weeks. If you haven’t seen it yet, rectify that situation immediately!

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.