YMMV / Starship Troopers

Works with their own YMMV pages:

The Novel:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Due to the media being State-run, the same situation as in the film presents itself in the book - was the asteroid that hit the Earth actually sent by the aliens, or was it just a convenient Pretext for War?
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The time bomb that announces it's a time bomb and reads off its own countdown is hilarious. Even Rico winces over it, as he's dropping it. It is described as a terror weapon. It isn't intended to kill the enemy, its purpose is to scare the shit out of them.
  • Internet Backdraft: Starship Troopers has a reputation for generating lively debate on subjects including:
    • Was Heinlein a fascist?
    • The merits and validity of the Terran Federation's political system.
    • The book versus the movie.
    • Was military service the only way to earn citizenship, or were other forms of service acceptable?
      • This one is actually explicitly stated in the book to be the latter, as Rico's concern was that he'd be assigned to a Greenpeace-like unit that (in his estimation) acted as glorified janitors on Pluto. Word of God (reprinted in Heinlein's Expanded Universe) indicated that any form of public service qualified a person for citizenship, but they didn't get any say in what kind of service it would be.
      • We also know for a fact (stated in the book) that being a Merchant Marine does not qualify as Federal Service. Though the Merchant Marines have been trying to change that for quite some time.
    • What Heinlein said in the book versus what he said about the book.
  • Jerkass Has a Point / Strawman Has a Point: Even readers who disagree with the book's heavy-handed political statements are likely to find the book thought-provoking based on how, exactly, they disagree. This is one reason that the book has out-lived a host of other Bug War / Space Invaders literature of that period: it may not change your opinions but it helps you decide what those opinions are.
    • The scene where Rasczak and his class have a Socratic debate of sorts about the moral and or ethical responsibilities inherent in citizenship (perhaps because it's one of the only scenes to be somewhat faithful to the source material) actually raises some valid points that an informed audience might find themselves agreeing with. Rasczak is correct when he says 'civic virtue' is undervalued when people don't actually have to personally sacrifice for their own rights. Rico learning this lesson (he and Carmen were zoning out the lecture to playfully flirt with one another) is the basis for his character arc.
  • Mary Suetopia: The society in the novel was also a sort of Mary Suetopia, based on Heinlein's later conservative ideals. Of course, the films subvert this into a Straw Dystopia, but not an actualized one. The book did preach a "military democracy" (a completely nonsensical contradiction in terms, given that every military throughout history has operated through a hierarchical structure and not through popular vote) that utilized corporal punishment for crimes, and capital punishment (not just for murder but other major violent crimes) even with insane persons; the given rationale for the society was that "it works," using only the fictitious evidence of the book itself, while scorning all 20th century conventions as "primitive myths" which were naturally proven wrong by "advanced scientific proofs" of Heinlein's Suetopian future-world, such as the supposed need to corporeally punish dogs in order to housebreak them (which, you will note, most dog experts agree is a terrible idea, these days).
    • "Military democracy" doesn't really work to describe the society Heinlein created, as active duty personnel are prohibited from voting and the book quite explicitly states that the military is only one of the services through which people can obtain citizenship.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Suffice to say every Space Marine Bug War franchise can claim a link to Starship Troopers.
    • Aliens is often considered to be the most faithful adaptation of Starship Troopers ever made, due to the various similarities. Now, on the flip side, the Space Marines of Aliens themselves were the inspiration for other Space Marines, such as the ones in the film of Starship Troopers.
    • Halo owes a lot to ST, especially with the armor and ODST's drop pods. Its spinoff game Halo 3: ODST featuring those shock troopers fighting the Drones.
    • Starcraft has plenty of references to and points of inspiration from ST as well.
    • Space Marines in powered armour fighting large bugs? Warhammer 40,000.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Johnny very nearly gets picked for the K-9 Corps rather than Mobile Infantry. The genetically altered 'neodogs' are mentioned as being capable of (rather garbled) speech, having senses that even the MI suits can't match, and being ridden into battle by their handlers. However, this particular book is about infantry. They never really appear in the book in person, and we're told the Corps was almost annihilated at Klendathu.

The Films:

  • Adaptation Displacement: For better or for worse, more people (especially young people) are familiar with the film than they are the novel.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Anvilicious: Paul Verhoeven knows of no other way to present a message, though for some people the message is still lost, and the movie appears to be a gung-ho sci-fi romp in which War is Awesome.
  • Awesome Moment: Amazingly enough, from the second film: Sgt. Rake's Roaring Rampage of Revenge after suffering an Orifice Invasion from a Puppeteer Parasite and shooting herself up with a ridiculous amount of adrenaline.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: That's the one with the co-ed showers where everyone but Denise Richards gets naked, right?
  • Cliché Storm: A force five hurricane, especially the death scenes.
  • Critical Research Failure: In arguing for why Violence Really Is the Answer, both a student and his teacher early in the film seems to be under the impression that the city of Hiroshima ceased to exist entirely after the end of World War II. This is changed from the speech in the book, where Carthage is cited instead.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Although Paul Verhoeven's film is partly a comedy, it is very dark comedy that suggests that humans are as animalistic as any other creature in outer space. Although the genocidal alien bugs are clearly the bad guys, the humans have become arrogant and brutal in the course of fighting them. Condemned criminals are executed on live TV, computer websites pump users full of overbearing propaganda reminiscent of World War II newsreels, schoolchildren are encouraged to gleefully stomp on helpless insects in a form of Fantastic Racism, people are denied citizenship rights if they do not serve in the military, the drill sergeant at the infantry boot camp is a bully (okay, sometimes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold) who seems to enjoy physically humiliating both male and female recruits, soldiers are punched in the face for uttering mildly rude remarks, and the protagonist is at one point stripped to the waist and receives 10 lashes across his bare back in full view of the entire camp as punishment for accidentally causing a comrade's death.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Played with. The exciting battle scenes seem to undermine Verhoeven's supposed message, but most of the soldiers still die agonizingly horrible deaths. But the trope itself is also a large part of the message, the unsavory elements of the war and its reasons are referenced by people trying to downplay or distract from those elements.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: In the DVD commentary, director Paul Verhoeven says fans wanted Carmen to die and Johnny to end up with Dizzy, proving that it isn't only fans who have preferred couples. Considering that in the original book Dizzy is male and Johnny and Carmen have at most a one-night stand together, this wouldn't have been such a bad change compared to most of the rest of the changes Verhoeven actually did make.
  • First Installment Wins: Really, the sequels were nowhere near as good as the first.
  • Follow the Leader: The original script "Bug Hunt" was an Aliens ripoff, and much of Aliens was inspired by the original Starship Troopers novel.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In-Universe example in the first movie: the recruitment commercial with the cute, eight year old kid in uniform saying, "I'm doing my part, too!" and everyone laughs. Cut to the last battle in the movie where Johnny and Ace command a squadron of Child Soldiers, not much older than that first kid, and it's not funny anymore...
    • The Revenge Before Reason description on the Film page accurately describes the United States's attitude towards Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Rather than heed the advice of people who urged the US to withdraw from the Middle East, the US ended up involved in its longest and costliest war that has done nothing but create more enemies and cause the cycle of revenge to continue.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: NFL wideout Jerome Simpson actually pulled off the Flip 6-3 hole. In the same uniform, no less!
    • Carl's failed attempts to flirt with Dizzy are especially funny ever since Neil Patrick Harris came out as gay in 2006.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Would you like to know more?"
    • "They sucked his brains out."
    • "The [X] cannot do [Y], IF YOU DISABLE HIS HAND!"
    • "It's afraid. IT'S AFRAID!" This one is especially popular for photo edits, with Neil Patrick Harris' character standing in front of something else entirely while saying the line.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Despite the fact that Paul Verhoeven is anti-war and anti-fascism (he came mighty close to becoming 'collateral damage' when he was a child), people will accuse him from now until judgment day of making a movie that glorifies war, fascism, and blind, jingoistic patriotism. To think Paul Verhoeven made the mistake of being too subtle.
    • This Misaimed Fandom gets an In-Universe example in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. The paranoid, racist, warmongering Homeland Security agent tells Neil Patrick Harris that Starship Troopers inspired him to get into his line of work.
    • This expands to the creators of the sequel as well, who clearly missed out the implication that the Arachnids were the real good guys who were being provoked by the xenophobic and jingoistic humans, and portrayed the humans as the lesser evil.
    • Critics lambasted the fact that the characters were flat and uninteresting. According to Paul Verhoeven, he was aiming for 90210 IN SPACE! because the entire film was a propaganda film.
    • Somehow even The Daily Show (which did movie reviews back then — one of many instances of Early Installment Weirdness) missed the satire, picking up on Neil Patrick Harris' SS-like uniform but not the fact that the audience wasn't meant to be rooting for the humans.
  • Misaimed Marketing: A toyline was released by Galoob in 1997. Yes, a toyline based on an R-rated film that has lots of blood, gore, political satire, and nudity. Funnily enough, this is exactly the kind of thing the film would satirize.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Face it, the bugs are just fucking terrifying.
    • The sheer scale of the death and destruction is horrifying.
    • After the Rodger Young gets carved in half by the bug plasma, several crewmen are seen sucked out by explosive decompression.
      • Even worse? Look very closely at the scenes outside the ship as it burns. You can see kicking human bodies floating in space.
      • You don't even have to look closely. One of them lands on Carmen's windshield.
  • Propaganda Piece: Where to start? The In-Universe propaganda went so far as to convince many in the audience that the bugs were bad.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Who woulda thought Barney Stinson was a great Military Strategist that gets promoted to Colonel.
    • Hank Schrader is the commander of the Mobile Infantry boot camp.
    • Amy Smart is one of Carmen's fellow pilots.
    • Lassie works for the government's psychic program.
  • Rooting for the Empire: A lot of people were rooting for the Bugs. In the first movie this might have been the filmmakers' intention, but in the sequels the Federation were supposed to be the good guys (or at least the lesser evil) and audiences still found a bunch of giant cockroaches to be more sympathetic. If you're reading the subtext that the Federation are Villain Protagonists, it becomes Rooting For The Empire regardless of which side you're rooting for.
  • The Scrappy: Carmen, so much so that in the DVD Commentary, the director recalls that after test screenings, the survey cards were filled with comments like "kill the bitch!" and "kill the slut!"
  • Sequelitis: All of them except Invasion.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Badass of the Week.com explains best:
    "Luckily, the script writers realized what they were working with and wrote some of the cheesiest, most badass dialogue in any movie ever. I don't know how they did it, but every single line in the movie is completely corny but awesome at the same time. This results in the audience getting a good laugh in the fifteen minutes of the movie when people aren't getting their arms ripped off or aliens aren't being exploded into pieces and spewing green fluid all over the place."
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The opinion of the novel's fans. There's some overlap with WTH, Casting Agency? at the directorial level, since you don't hand Paul Verhoeven a novel that states that War Is Glorious and say, "Adapt this into a movie! Change whatever you like."
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: It is not necessarily a bad movie, but most of the main cast doesn't seem to realize that it is actually a parodic take on military jingoism. In fact, Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown seem to be the only people who know what kind of movie they're in. Neil Patrick Harris also definitely did; in one of the tie-in magazines, he actively states that his character was becoming this 'dark little fascist' by the time the film ends.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The script is a deliberate affront to Heinlein. But every single Bug is Crazy Awesomely cool.
  • What an Idiot: In the infamous live-fire exercise, Breckinridge's helmet begins slanting and obstructing his view, leading to him running into someone else's line of fire. Rico stops what he's doing and runs over.
    • You'd Expect: Rico to get him off the field and into the hands of someone who can repair the helmet, out of the way of the lasers and bullets flying everywhere.
    • Instead: Rico takes Breckinridge's helmet off on the field right away. An alien statue rises up out of of the ground and zaps another soldier, causing her to fall over and fire, and one of the bullets blows the top of Breckinridge's skull clear off his head. The exercise ends immediately along with Rico's command over the unit, and he earns himself ten lashes from a whip in view of the whole camp; he nearly resigns before the meteor that destroys his hometown convinces him to stick around as a lowly private.
  • Word of God: The use of Argentina was quite deliberate, since its Nazi ties are documented.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, and Neil Patrick Harris playing Argentinean high schoolers... Verhoeven aimed for a Do Not Do This Cool Thing-baiting feel with the casting, going for stupidly beautiful people who would be far more at home in a soap opera — and then not telling them the film was a satire, leaving them to play their roles deadly serious. Given the other elements of political/social commentary in the film - i.e. the blatant lies perpetuated in saying the Bugs dropped a meteor on Buenos Aires to justify the ongoing war, it's also very likely that these incredibly white teenagers with their Latin-American names were a commentary on American expansionism.
    • Conversely, in real life Argentina is a multiethnic nation settled by a wide variety of ethnicities, including from multiple European nations, and consequently Argentines look far more Anglo than other Latin American nationals.

The Video Game:

The Pinball Machine:

  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One of the jackpot animations features a carpet bombing that appears to be lifted from the movie itself. Sure its on a pixelated DMD display, but for 1997 standards, where most movie licensed machines recreate scenes from their source material, it looks amazing.

The OVA:

  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Some of the Marauder designs were reused in MADOX-01, which was directed by Shinji Aramaki. Guess what happens 26 years later?
    • This OVA is produced by (in case you haven't read the main page) Sunrise. In the one Gundam movie that almost no one liked, G Saviour, the CONSENT troops reused the Mobile Infantry armor from the first movie.