The Martian script was adapted from a book written by Andy Weir, and then adapted into a screenplay directed by Ridley Scott. We’re going to analyze The Martian characters, quotes, plot, and ending.
What can we learn from The Martian script and scenes?
The Martian Script
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WHO WROTE THE Martian SCRIPT?
Written by Drew Goddard
Drew Goddard began as a writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Alias before then writing his first feature film, Cloverfield.
Goddard went on to write The Cabin in the Woods, and World War Z. He also wrote and directed Bad Times at the El Royale, and also created the show Daredevil.
The MArtian PLOT
Story beats in The Martian script
Let's take a look at the plot summary for The Martian screenplay.
Script Structure of The Martian
1. EXPOSITION (BEGINNING)
The Martian script begins right in the middle of the action with a mission in progress on Mars. We meet Mark Watney and the rest of the team, but then a storm shows up to and an antennae hits Mark Watney. Believing he’s dead, the rest of the team must abort the mission and leave Mark behind.
2. INCITING INCIDENT
The Martian screenplay uses the inciting incident in a very clever way. This is where we learn that Mark is actually not dead, but still injured. Mark must seal up hit suit, deal with his wound and get back into the Habitat.
3. CLIMAX OF ACT ONE
The Martian script has Act One landing around page 25. This is where the team back on Earth realize that Mark Watney is actually still alive, and because of the distance and how complicated the mission would be, they wouldn’t be able to get back to Mars for at least a year.
4. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)
The Martian screenplay uses the politics, optics, and technical complications of a rescue mission to act as logical obstacles. We also get to watch as Mark uses his knowledge to prepare a trip across Mars in an effort to meet with NASA when they come back to Mars. Mark grows potatoes, and then goes after the Pathfinder shuttle to try and make contact with NASA.
5. MIDPOINT (BIG TWIST)
The Martian script has the midpoint and big twist occur right around page 65 where the NASA resupply launch fails. Mark’s chances for survival go from bad to worse.
6. DISASTER & CRISIS
The Martian screenplay uses this section to alternate back and forth between terrible news and life saving ideas from the team on the ground. So while Mark’s situation seems to be getting worse and worse on the surface of the planet, there are new exciting ideas that might be able to save him.
7. CLIMAX OF ACT TWO
The Martian script has the climax of Act Two landing around page 85 where we get a work montage to David Bowie’s Starman. Mark must leave the Habitat and make his way across Mars to the MAV 4.
8. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)
The Martian screenplay breaks into Act Three with Mark removing parts of the MAV so that he is light enough to make the trip out to the shuttle, but this will require him to ditch the front of the MAV. He launches, but there are complications like his trajectory and speed. The crew must now figure out a creative way to fix the problem.
9. CLIMAX OF ACT THREE
The Martian script has a great ending to Act Three as Mark and the crew make their one and only attempt to reconnect and save Mark from the surface of Mars. They blow a bomb on the ship, and Mark uses the air inside his suit to thrust himself toward the commander.
10. RESOLUTIONThe Martian screenplay ends with Mark back on Earth. He’s now an instructor for the new recruits at the Academy. The end credits play over the last 10 pages as we see the next mission prepare for the trip to Mars.
The Martian Script Takeaway #1
The Martian quotesThe Martian quotes are mostly attributed to Mark Watney, and almost all of the best ones are spoken during his personal VLOGs. That’s definitely something remarkable and unique to this film, where the isolation and possibility of Mark’s contribution always having the slight chance that it will either be found after his death, or never found at all.
Read the one of the VLOG Scenes
The Martian Growing Potatoes
Here is a list of the great The Martian quotes:
“I've been thinking about laws on Mars. There's an international treaty saying that no country can lay claim to anything that's not on Earth. By another treaty if you're not in any country's territory, maritime law applies. So Mars is international waters. Now, NASA is an American non-military organization, it owns the Hab. But the second I walk outside I'm in international waters. So Here's the cool part. I'm about to leave for the Schiaparelli Crater where I'm going to commandeer the Ares IV lander. Nobody explicitly gave me permission to do this, and they can't until I'm on board the Ares IV. So I'm going to be taking a craft over in international waters without permission, which by definition... makes me a pirate. Mark Watney: Space Pirate.”
“I don't want to come off as arrogant here, but I'm the greatest botanist on this planet.”
“They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially colonized it. So, technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!”
“At some point, everything's gonna go south on you... everything's going to go south and you're going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem... and you solve the next one... and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?”
“I admit it's fatally dangerous, but I'd get to fly around like Iron Man.”
“It's a strange feeling. Everywhere I go, I'm the first. Step outside the rover? First guy ever to be there! Climb a hill? First guy to climb that hill! Kick a rock? That rock hadn't moved in a million years! I'm the first guy to drive long-distance on Mars. The first guy to spend more than thirty-one sols on Mars. The first guy to grow crops on Mars. First, first, first!”
“In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this.”
“I'm the first person to be alone on an entire planet.”
“Every time something goes wrong, the world forgets why we fly.”
“I know what they're doing. I know exactly what they're doing. They just keep repeating "go faster than any man in the history of space travel", like that's a good thing. Like it'll distract me from how insane their plan is. Yeah, I get to go faster than any man in the history of space travel, because you're launching me in a convertible. Actually it's worse than that, because I won't even be able to control the thing. And by the way, physicists, when describing things like acceleration do not use the word "fast". So they're only doing that in the hopes that I won't raise any objections to this lunacy, because I like the way "fastest man in the history of space travel" sounds. I do like the way it sounds... I mean, I like it a lot.”
The Martian Script Takeaway #2
The Martian CharactersThe Martian characters are all really well crafted, and the script does a good job of giving each a unique personality that isn’t solely based around their expertise. That expertise still comes through, but it’s not like their entire development is tied to a single aspect.
Read the Teddy's Introduction
The Martian characters include each of the Ares crew members, but also the NASA command and various technicians and scientist on the ground who each have their own motivations and contributions.
The Martian Behind the Scenes
The Martian characters have a clear mission, and this allows for a bit of fun to exist in the story without ever going off topic.
THE MARTIAN SCRIPT TAKEAWAY #3
The Martian EndingThe Martian ending is really great and shows how good screenplay structure can be really effective for creating suspense at every moment of the film. There is so much anticipation built, and things have gone really right, and really wrong throughout the film.
Read the Ending Scene
This constant fluctuation between good moments and bad keeps us on our toes, and that allows for The Martian ending to remain a mystery, whereas many others telegraph their endings and ruin the power.
Resolution in The Martian
The Martian ending also has a few differences from the script and the actual film, most notably the little plant growing through the gravel. This wasn’t in the script, but it really packs a visual punch.
Read and Download More Scripts
The Martian mixes smarts, laughs, weird character bits and tension on a huge canvas. If you want to read more great scripts, we have The Social Network, Good Will Hunting and The Breakfast Club in our screenplay database. Great screenwriters read lots of scripts. Get started today!