Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 sci-fi action feature “Starship Troopers” was mostly notable for its satire – taking the jingoistic right-wing militarism of Robert A. Heinlein’s original work and subverting it into a critique of the material’s pro-fascist traits.
Nearly twenty years on another version is in the works, this one aiming to be more faithful to Heinlein’s original take on the war with a bug-like alien race. Neal Moritz and Toby Jaffe (“xXx,” “Stealth”) are producing the project which aims to be “more grounded” and as Jaffe said in an interview – “one man’s fascism is another man’s patriotism.”
Verhoeven is out doing press rounds for “Elle” at the moment and was asked to offer his thoughts on the new adaptation which he’s not involved in. He tells Indiewire that the first film was lucky to have succeeded in the way that it did and how a straight adaptation of the material is more suitable in the current political climate:
“We succeeded to do this movie, that is so subversive, and politically incorrect [because] Sony changed [leadership] every three, four months. Nobody looked at the rushes because they had no time because they were fired every three, four months. So we got away with it because nobody saw it.
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. 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.”
Fans of the original novel aren’t normally fans of Verhoeven’s satirising of it, audiences at the time were famously divided with only some seemingly getting the humor – most notably seen in its little propaganda film-style news reels – whilst others took it at face value.
In contrast the novel is seen as a vehicle for Heinlein’s anti-communist views and hardline stance demanding military service of everyone able because it is their social responsibility. Despite claims of warmongering, the novel did pioneer various ideas such as powered armor exoskeletons and other key military equipment.