Starship Troopers, the 1997 sci-fi cult classic, is getting a remake, according to an exclusive from The Hollywood Reporter.
Paul Verhoeven directed the original 1997 version of the satirical science-fiction film starring Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, a Mobile Infantry soldier moving his way up the ranks in a futuristic military at war with alien insectoids generically referred to as “bugs.”
The film was based on a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein novel also titled Starship Troopers.
The novel, which won the Hugo Award for 1960, has attracted considerable criticism and debate since it was first released.
“There’s a law on science fiction blogs stating that there is probability of one that the words ‘Robert Heinlein’ and ‘Starship Troopers‘ will be followed by the word ‘fascist,'” writes Sam Jordison in a retrospective of the book for The Guardian. “The controversy has been raging (and I mean raging) ever since the book was first published almost 50 years ago.”
— Heinlein Society (@HeinleinSociety) November 4, 2016
Heinlein says he wrote the book in only a few short weeks, partially in response to a newspaper advertisement by the Committee For A SANE Nuclear Policy that called for an end to nuclear weapons testing in the United States, according to Jordison.
Apparently, Heinlein didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with the committee.
“This inspiration is clear: the book is a paean to blowing [stuff] up, shot through with anti-Marxist rhetoric and featuring an insect enemy whose hive mind and military tactic of sacrificing individuals for the good of the many could be seen as the apotheosis of communism,” wrote Jordison.
For many critics, the book represents a defense, if not adulation, of a form fascistic military dictatorship. Heinlein’s defenders, or course, have argued that it’s not that simple and that the book is far more philosophically nuanced than that.
When Verhoeven was tasked with directing the 1997 film adaptation of the Starship Troopers novel, he couldn’t take the fascist tones of the book seriously and decided to move in a satirical direction.
“Verhoeven took some of the novel’s themes and ran with them, making a movie that satirically took on fascism and militarism and echoed propaganda films like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will,” Borys Kit writes for The Hollywood Reporter.
The original Starship Troopers film met with mixed reviews and limited commercial success. It did, however, eventually develop a cult following. That late following led to the release of several direct-to-DVD sequels and video-game spinoffs, Kit reports.
For the remake, Columbia Pictures will not be looking to recreate Verhoeven’s film. Instead, they will be returning to Heinlein’s text to look for a new vision of how the novel could be adapted to the big screen.
— Casper Van Dien (@CasperVanDien) November 4, 2016
According to Kit, Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, the writers of the upcoming Baywatch remake, have been chosen to write the screenplay. Neal H. Moritz, of Fast & Furious fame, will be working with Toby Jaffe to produce the new Starship Troopers. The two previously worked on Columbia Picture’s remake of the 1990 Phillip K. Dick-inspired film, Total Recall.
Several other Robert A. Heinlein books and stories have been adapted for TV and film, including the Red Planet mini-series (1994) and The Puppet Masters (1994). Other popular books by Heinlein include Stranger in a Strange Land, for which he also won a Hugo Award, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, for which he again won a Hugo Award.
Heinlein died in 1988. His final book was 1987’s To Sail Beyond the Sunset.
The Hollywood Reporter did not name who will be directing the remake of Starship Troopers. Matthew Milam, a VP of creative production with Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Groups, of which Columbia Pictures is a division, is overseeing the project.
If the cult status of the original Starship Troopers film and the continuing popularity of Heinlein among fans of classic science fiction are any indicators, Columbia Pictures could have a hit on their hands with the remake.