Paul Verhoeven Tells Us Why the ‘Starship Troopers’ Remake Is a Bad Idea
Paul Verhoeven is known for his remarkably divisive and provocative films, including Elle, the new French thriller that hits select theaters this week. But another one of his films recently made headlines again when it was reported that Sony was finally moving ahead with their long-planned remake of Starship Troopers, hiring a pair of writers to take a crack at the script — and ditching the satirical approach that made Verhoeven’s adaptation so great. While speaking with Verhoeven about his latest film, we had a chance to ask for his opinion on the Starship Troopers remake. Unsurprisingly, he’s not a fan.
As you might assume, talking with the Dutch director of films like RoboCop and Starship Troopers the day after one of America’s most controversial presidential elections was pretty interesting. (For the record, Verhoeven believes Donald Trump’s presidency will only worsen existing problems in the film industry.) So when the conversation turned to his 1996 film, a sci-fi story about an intergalactic war with giant bug-like alien invaders that satirizes fascist propaganda and war films, Verhoeven definitely had something to say.
He is very aware that Sony hired screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (the upcoming Baywatch movie) to pen the new Starship Troopers movie — reportedly a more faithful adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s sci-fi novel, which Verhoeven describes as “Trump-y.” Verhoeven says the original book was “militaristic and fascistic,” but that it “fits extremely well with this presidential election.”
Heinlein’s straight-faced novel was criticized upon release for glorifying the very concepts that Verhoeven satirized in his film. When asked directly if he thinks it’s a good idea to remake that story now, in the current political context, without self-awareness, Verhoeven laughs and simply replies, “No.”
Verhoeven explains that he and screenwriter Ed Neumeier “really had to fight with the book” and its sober depiction of militaristic characters, “because we felt that we would portray these people that way, but at the same time we would tell the audience, ‘Wait a moment. Wait a moment. Look at them. These people are part of a fascist utopia.”
Perhaps in light of this year’s election results, Sony will agree that a serious remake of Starship Troopers isn’t such a good idea after all.