He's played by Dominic West, who also portrayed Simon Ambrose in Johnny English: Reborn.
Sab Than is the Jeddak of Zodanga, a title he earned by murdering his father. He is impulsive, arrogant and aggressive, promoting war and conquest as the Zodangan way of life. With his dangerous calculated charm, Sab Than will do anything to destroy Helium and rule Barsoom (Mars).
One day, as he and his army battle Helium's forces, the Therns, led by their leader, Matai Shang, appear and stop the battle. Matai Shang gives Sab Than the 9th Ray weapon, promising Sab Than that if he does what the Therns command, Sab Than will rule Barsoom.
Later, Sab Than announces to Helium that he will stop the war between Helium and Zodanga on one condition: he marries Princess Dejah Thoris. But this masks his true plan: after he marries Dejah during the alignment of the Martian moons, he will destroy Helium and fulfill his goal: rule Barsoom. Matai Shang and the Therns help Sab Than ensure the plan goes smoothly by using various means including destroying Dejah's new invention. However, this causes Dejah to attempt to run away from Helium on a flying ship.
Sab Than, Matai Shang, and the Zodanga soldiers, flying on their Zodanga ship, chase the flying Helium ship and cripple it, but cannot find Dejah among the captive Helium soldiers. When John Carter, a soldier from Earth, appears and saves Dejah, Sab Than, curious about Carter (since he is not from Helium or Zodanga), attempts to capture him alive. Sab Than fights Carter and is about to make him bleed, until the Tharks, which Carter had already met, save Carter by shooting at the Zodanga ship, and Sab Than, Matai Shang and the soldiers are forced to flee.
Later, back in Zodanga, Sab Than becomes reluctant to pursue the wedding, since Zodanga is winning the war, but Matai Shang convinces him that staging the wedding will fulfill his goal of ruling Barsoom. Sab Than and Shang then come up with another idea that will make Dejah forcibly marry Sab Than, so Sab Than leaves for Hellium without an escort to tell Helium's king that he had accidentally nearly killed Dejah, but claiming that he only cared about Dejah's safety. Matai Shang activates Sab Than's plan by sending the Great Martian Clan of Warhoon to attack Carter, Dejah and their Thark companion, Sola, at the River Iss. During the battle, Sab Than flies in a Helium ship and rescues Dejah from the Clan, claiming that he had organized the rescue mission. Reluctantly, Dejah agrees to marry Sab Than to end the war.
Later that night, the wedding ceremony begins in Helium, with Sab Than and Dejah about to be married, with the people of Helium and Zodanga watching. However, before the wedding can conclude, John Carter arrives and stops the wedding. Enraged at his sudden appearance, Sab Than reveals his true intentions to Helium and sends his soldiers to attack. As a large battle ensues between both cities, Sab Than takes Dejah hostage and attempts to kill her, but Dejah cuts Sab Than's hand with a knife, causing him to drop her and be saved by Carter. Sab Than and Carter duel one-on-one once more, with Sab Than gaining the upper hand. Just as Sab Than is about to kill Carter, the Tharks suddenly arrive and join the battle, helping Helium's soldiers get the upper hand in the battle. Carter is able to defeat Sab Than by cutting off his arm, and tries to get him to tell him about the Therns, which Sab Than says he will do so if Carter doesn't kill him. However, Matai Shang suddenly uses the 9th Ray to cover Sab Than's head and crush his skull, killing Sab Than instantly. Helium wins against Zodanga in the battle and the war is over.
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