Good news, Roughnecks— we're heading back to Klendathu! A #StarshipTroopers reboot has been officially confirmed. But fans of the hilariously cheesy 1997 original shouldn't get too excited just yet. Rather than taking the satirical route again, the new film will be based on ex-naval officer Robert A. Heinlein's controversial novel.
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The script is currently being written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, the writing duo behind Freddy vs. Jason and the future Baywatch movie. While they haven't released any detailed information on their intentions for the project, they have been answering questions from fans on their joint Twitter account.
What exactly can we expect from the upcoming sci fi film?
It Will Be Nothing Like The Original Film
The original movie took Robert Heinlein's military novel and spun it into a hilarious dramatisation of a war narrative, featuring ridiculous scenarios where school children were encouraged to hold automatic weapons during a demonstration, and Ken doll-lookalike Casper Van Dien regularly screamed his lines with all the exaggerated torment he could muster. If Starship Troopers was a pizza, its toppings would be 100% cheese. Heinlein wanted to take science fiction from shallow soap operas to deep social criticism, but the 1997 film took it right back to pulp territory.
Shannon and Swift have clarified that while they loved the original movie, they're definitely not trying to remake it. Heinlein's novel wasn't a comedy, and the screenwriters have stated that they have no intention of following a comedic route.
The reboot also won't feature any original cast members. Sorry, Neil Patrick Harris fans.
Who Was Robert A. Heinlein?
Robert Heinlein was a naval officer whose science fiction novels earned him the title of "dean of science fiction". He is accredited with beginning the era of social science fiction, and his stories often revolved around themes of social responsibility and political power.
Heinlein began writing about politics after World War II, and soon turned to science fiction. Accused of being both a liberal and a fascist, his views evolved widely over his life, having a strong influence on his works. He was undeniably patriotic — his family fought in every American war since the War of Independence in the 1700s — and his criticisms of society led to the self-granted title of "philosophical anarchist".
While a lot of the themes he dealt with were regarded as radical for his time, he has also been criticised for his use of racial slurs against Asian antagonists in his stories. Heinlein was also a strong supporter of nuclear weapons, and wrote Starship Troopers in response to the anti-nuclear arms testing movement.
The Novel Is Pretty Controversial
Heinlein's first draft of Starship Troopers was rejected by publishing house Scribners due to its controversial content. It has gained a notorious reputation as a pro-military narrative, with some critics going so far as to liken it to an army recruitment poster. The book was even added to official US military reading lists.
The book is set in the fictional human Federation of Terran, a society dominated by the military. Only "citizens" who have undergone voluntary service are permitted to vote or hold office, and corporal and capitol punishment are the preferred method for dealing with crime. Despite violence and war dominating the story, Terran is portrayed as somewhat of a utopian meritocracy, where the importance of individual sacrifice is held in high importance.
The enemy force — known as arachnids — are Heinlein's own metaphor for communism. Their weakness lies in their collective mindset which disregarded the individual, which Heinlein believed to be the most important aspect of society and, indeed, war. The arachnids are also portrayed as soulless and dehumanised, and often referred to as "bugs" in an attempt to promote otherism, a common theme in war and its propaganda. It's clear to see why the 1997 movie went with such a satirical take of the subject matter.
The Reboot Might Be More Progressive Than We Think
Despite its so-called glorification of violence and war, Heinlein was applauded for his book's diversity. The story features many strong, strong, independent female characters, who are said to be inspired by his third wife.
The original protagonist Juan "Johnny" Rico wasn't the white Ken doll-lookalike we're given with Casper Van Dien — he was actually Filipino. While he has been criticised for his attitude towards Asians, Heinlein often included an ethnically diverse arrange of characters, and sought to challenge many preconceived notions of race. According to Shannon and Swift's recent remarks, they aim to do the same.
Heinlein also wasn't quite the staunch conservative many thought him to be. He was a self-proclaimed libertarian, and his novels often promoted sexual liberation. Does this mean we could see another co-ed shower scene?
In this age of Donald Trump and 'member berries, are we due for a new Starship Troopers film that reflects the original values of Heinlein's novel?
[Sources: The Hollywood Reporter]