Total Nerd

‘Mars Attacks!’ Was Tim Burton’s Ultimate Unregulated Experiment And It’s Stranger Than You Remember

By the time Mars Attacks! came out, Tim Burton had gone from being a solid albeit oddball director to a money-printing machine. His creepy sensibilities lent themselves to darkly comic films that thrust audiences into a world of underdogs. 

With two wildly successful Batman films under his belt, along with the sleeper goth hit Edward Scissorhands and the award-winning Ed Wood, Burton could do no wrong. When he pitched a disaster movie based on a trading card series about aliens, Warner Bros. probably threw a pile of money at him. Unfortunately, 1996's Mars Attacks! didn’t turn out how anyone expected, except for maybe Burton. 

Mars Attacks! is a film that heavily references 1950s and ‘60s science fiction while radiating a very ‘90s cynicism. The inspiration for Mars Attacks! may have been a trading card set, but there’s so much more going on in the bonkers film.

Burton’s offbeat sensibilities are on full display in the film; it’s bursting with color, and it’s violently wild. This is the kind of movie that happens when a director gets to make exactly what they want.