A Starship Troopers remake now? The director of the classic 1997 version says it makes perfect sense.
Verhoeven's 1997 film adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers has become a cult classic in its own right over the past 19 years, but not because it was a faithful take on Heinlein’s tale. In fact, the movie satirized the book's arguably (and it's still being argued to this day) open embrace of a militaristic, fascistic society (Heinlein's political views evolved over time, although he ultimately considered himself a libertarian) and used the basic structure of the story as a blackly comedic warning against the notion of endless war turning us into a totalitarian regime.
With a new version of Starship Troopers now on the drawing board that's said to hew closer to the tone of the novel, the question is: Will this movie also hold up a potentially fascist society as something to be admired?
Verhoeven himself seems to think that's the case, and according to Indiewire, he connected that possibility to the current political situation in the U.S. as well. Speaking at a screening of Starship Troopers this week at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the director said about the coming remake:
“It said in the article [that] the production team of that movie of the remake, that they would go back more and more towards the novel. And of course, we really, really tried to get away from the novel, because we felt that the novel was fascistic and militaristic. You feel that going back to the novel would fit very much in a Trump Presidency.”
Verhoeven acknowledge that the film he directed (which was written by Ed Neumeier) was in fact a rebuttal to the source material, saying:
"Our philosophy was really different [from Heinlein’s book],we wanted to do a double story, a really wonderful adventure story about these young boys and girls fighting, but we also wanted to show that these people are really, in their heart, without knowing it, are on their way to fascism."
From some of his other remarks, Verhoeven makes it clear that he thinks the U.S. could be headed down the same road with Donald Trump at the wheel. Whether you agree with that or not, that's not an argument we intend to have here. Instead, would a more faithful version of Starship Troopers advocate fascism, and if so, is that a message that filmmakers want to send? Or can the story be told as a straight sci-fi adventure, neither embracing nor satirizing the source material's worldview? No doubt the debate will rage on ...