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The movie takes place in the Starcraft universe.
The Bugs are obviously the Zerg. They found Earth, attacked it with an astroid, and caused humanity to go to war. The Brain bug could be a mobile version of a Cerebrate. When they capture the Brain bug, human psychics discover the concept of an Overmind, causing them to form the United Earth Directorate and track it down, which brings them to the part of space that Starcraft's main plot happens. The Protoss are not in the movies because they have Zerg to fight that are much closer to their own homeworlds.
The movie is Bug propaganda.
It's too Anvilicious not to be. The opening broadcast takes place just before Klendathu...and yet contains a shot of Dizz saluting Rico which doesn't happen until the later invasion of Planet P. Clearly all the footage was stitched together after the fact by Federation propagandists.

The Bugs were genetically engineered by the military.
At least in the movie & the various TV series, their physiology is too specialized & deliberate to have evolved naturally. It is also too similar to Earth insects to be alien.

The Military created the creatures through bioengineering to create an eternal enemy for Earth to justify their continued stranglehold on the government.

  • Similar? Earth insects can shoot bolts of superheated plasma, walk around on Pluto, and fly faster than light?
    • The abilities are there[1]. The genetic engineering could pump up them up to the extreme.
    • Humans can't shoot metal projectiles out of their hands, breathe in space, or run at several hundred miles per hour — but we have technology to do that. Genetic engineering has made the bugs their own technology.
  • In the TV series, it's explained by the genetic bonding process that lets them pick and choose the most badass biological features from a galaxy full of Bizarre Alien Biology to add to their species. They are "specialized and deliberate" because that's how they've made themselves.
    • If the government did create the Bugs, then they goofed. The Bugs can indeed destroy humanity, by outbreeding us if nothing else. They can adapt far more rapidly than we can. They are something no government run with enlightened self-interest (the only kind that could pull off such an elaborate longterm conspiracy and keep it secret) would dare unleash.

The Bugs were genetically engineered by a corporation that does genetic engineering.
Places like Monsanto have the exact right mix of long-term planning, ability to keep secrets, and absence of enlightened self-interest needed to pull off this sort of project. The end result of this project is a society in which almost no one is a citizen with voting rights — only people who have served, past tense, have the vote, and there are very few of those. The corporations in this society can steer the few people who are in charge to guide anyone who isn't in the military to outright hedonism, which is good for business and which is possible if the leadership is sufficiently far from Heinlein standards. Note that those seen outside the military are living in luxury if they have not been directly affected by a Bug attack.

Starship Troopers takes place in the Warhammer 40,000 universe
  • It seems pretty straightforward if you ask me. You have your quasi-fascist society which places a great deal of emphasis on military service. Said society is spread throughout at least half of the known galaxy and finds itself besieged by an insectoid alien menace. Replace the Mobile Infantry with the Imperial Guard, the Bugs with the Tyranids, and every fourth line with something involving the Emperor, and you can hardly tell the difference.
    • The Guard have better tactics though.
      • Obviously, they've developed better tactics sometime in the 37,000 years after 'Starship Troopers' and before 'Warhammer 40,000'.
      • And worse weapons. Although they at least have tanks.
      • Worse weapons? Regardless of how they function in-game, Lasguns are far superior to the shitty Moritas the MI are equipped with. It takes six MI firing on semi-auto nearly 10 seconds to kill a single bug. Statistically, it takes 2 Guardsmen firing on semi-auto less than a second to drop a Hormagaunt.
      • Hormaguants are a lot smaller than a Bug, a nid warroir would be closer, which takes about 3-4 guardsmen to drop one.
      • So, a lasgun is still better than a Moritas.
      • They're both just reskinned assault rifles laguns repeatedly fail to kill unarmored humans shot by them in various novels and fluff.
  • Note that despite inspiring the Space Marine's the Book most definitely does not take place in the 40k 'verse. Know why? Because the MI values human life, and not as a resource.
    • If the movie does take place in the 40k universe, it takes place early in the Dark Age of technology, before contact with the Eldar or the Orks. The Bugs are obviously a less efficiently-consuming group of Tyranids, and what would become the military equipment of the Imperium (flak and carapace armour, lasgun, and even powered armour and bolt rounds) was created to replace the inadequate body armour and the Morita-series rifles (who, ironically, had just begun to work against the Bugs in its later models, but had less power and ammo than the lasgun), with 'female' tanks (ie tanks armed with machine guns) being brought back in the fold because the bugs can't take on those and actual battle tanks to take on the Orks, the Eldar and other better-equipped opponents.
    • Alternatively, it takes place during the Age of the Imperium, with the humans being a lost colony that only believes they live on the real Terra (it already happened at least once) and have stumbled on a different and less dangerous FTL method, with the Bugs being indeed a less efficiently-consuming group of Tyranids that the Imperial Guard could mop up with ease.

The asteroid destroying Buenos Aires was dropped by the military.
Here is what happened: when the spaceship got hit by the asteroid, they wondered if the message they sent made it to earth in time to warn them. It DID make it to earth, but it should've taken years for the asteroid to make it there, since they were in deep space and nowhere near earth when they sent the message. So another section of the military sent out a ship, picked an asteroid, carried it past the defense forces, and dropped it on Buenos Aires. The destruction of a whole city and the death of thousands (that few?) is enough propaganda fuel to start a full scale war; and if anyone else picked up the message of the approaching asteroid, they'd have a justification. In fact, this can make EVERY asteroid attack pure propaganda fuel. There is no reasonable way to catapult them all the way across the galaxy to a specific planet because it would take millions of years. Asteroids should not go FTL.
  • Well, if you try to look at the movie seriously, which is impossible, there is no way the bugs could send asteroids to Earth anyway. So it would have to be some other race...and the only other race in the movie is humans.
    • That we KNOW of. If a third species could arrange a convenient war, it would be in their best interest to remain hidden and let the competitors kill each other off. However, it could just be that the Bugs had FTL but hid it from humans; it would, after all, be to their advantage to conceal their true capacity from their enemies.
      • Clearly, that third species is the Protoss.
    • They must have some form of space travel, considering they're encountered on multiple planets. The question is, if they have FTL, why not invade Earth?
      • In the scene where they're dissecting the big beetle-like creature in biology class the professor says that Arachnids can "colonize planets, by hurling their spore into space". They wouldn't necessarily have to have FTL to colonize other star systems this way. We have no idea how long they've existed, so it's quite possible they've been spreading through the galaxy for many millions of years at low STL speeds.

The asteroid was a random act of nature.
Earth just seized the opportunity to blame it on the Bugs.
  • Or the Federation leaders had no choice but to blame the bugs, because otherwise they'd have to shoulder the blame for not stopping the (natural) asteroid. Their whole justification for holding absolute power is that they're supposedly keeping Earth secure, after all.

The M.I.s suck because their doctrine was deliberately designed to make them suck
The entire war was a gigantic Wag The Dog gambit by the fascist government to rally the populace to them by giving them an enemy to be afraid of and hate, so they'd look to the fascist government for safety. The Arachnids were perfect for this purpose because they were technologically primitive and incapable of being any actual threat (the "Bug Meteoroids" were being secretly thrown at Earth by the fascist government - see previous WMG). However, the fascist government wanted to make them look like an actual threat to the populace, and this involved deliberately designing the weapons, tactics, doctrine, and training of the MI so they'd just barely be able to defeat the Arachnids, instead of utterly crushing them in a month like they would if they were actually fighting to win. Hence why the MI don't just kill the screaming hordes of Arachnids with machine guns and tanks and avoid all those unnecessary casualties.
  • And in the unlikely event that things got south (Aka Earth and the leadership is going to get killed), a real regiment of the Federation's military will come in and mop things up with actual military equipment from tanks, Marauders and plenty of air support
    • It is also a means to prune out any prospective citizen.
    • BINGO! The entire Federation military approach isn't based on being sound military tactics, it's all about proving one's worth as a citizen. In essence the entire war against the Bugs was just a self fulfilling justification...which ended up in the humans getting curb stomped for using propaganda based tactics against a, SURPRISE!, intelligent foe that used actual tactics. Bug Command:'Hey, how about we use plasma bugs to shoot down the human drop ships so they can't amass a solid beach head.', 'Hey, how about we lay a trap for the humans and then surround them.', 'Hey, how about we tunnel underground and ambush them from below where they can't detect us coming.' Human Command: 'You apes wanna live forever! Charge!!'

If we run with the two above theories, it means the Arachnids are an innocent technologically primitive race that simply had the misfortune of being perfect for the Earth government's Wag the Dog gambit. From their perspective they're being attacked by scary genocidal aliens with superior technology who are planning to exterminate their entire species. Sure, you had the possessed general's "and this madness cannot be allowed to spread" speech in the second movie, but really, under the circumstances, can you blame them for thinking we're a crazy, evil species that should be destroyed?
  • Word of God supports this one.
  • In the book, there's no jingoism; just the sad acknowledgement that Mankind and Eusocial Pseudoarachnids want the same planets and don't want to share them.
  • Also in the book, the Bugs are at least as technologically advanced as humanity, if not more so; even their most basic warriors are equipped with high-powered beam weaponry. In fact, the book's version of the attack on Buenos Aires has no mention of asteroids; the Bugs are implied to have sent actual spaceships that launched actual nukes.

The humans are controlled by another intelligent race - hyper-intelligent cows
When the in-movie news is talking about the bugs, they show a cow being eaten by a bug. However, the violence is censored. Immediately afterward, they follow it up with uncensored video of humans ripped limb from limb. The hyper-intelligent cows don't see too much of a problem with letting their non-intelligent kin get killed, but they'd rather not see it as it hits a bit too close to home. Combining this with some above theories, it becomes obvious that the hyper-intelligent cows genetically engineered the bugs, perhaps because their human servitors had reached the limit of their evolution and the hyper-intelligent cows wanted new minions, especially ones which are psychically pliable (did I mention that the hyper-intelligent cows are also psychics?).

The Movie was in-universe propoganda
That's why it's so over the top, why the good guys are seemingly in no pain at the end despite their injuries and walk away smiling and cheerful despite the massive death surrounding them. There are no "psychics", that's just to make humans seem like we have a cool advantage over the Bugs' Hive Mind. The classified details have been replaced with war-film cliches, and they used Hollywood Tactics exclusively because depictions of real-world military tactics are classified or even illegal in that totalitarian society in order to prevent potential rebels from learning to fight.
  • And the book is the real account of the war where the Bugs have technology rivaling humanity's and the Mobile Infantry needs to outfit all their troops with Marauder suits to compete.
  • Perhaps the film is a documentary of the Dark Age of Technology meant to be shown in the Schola Progenium.

There are no Bugs.
The asteroid was a natural event that the government needed to blame on someone (since they should have detected the rock and deflected it long before it hit). The events of the film are pure fiction, there was no military action taken at all— records were altered to make some of the people whose bodies were lost in the strike into "war heroes" who "joined up" after the "attack".
  • But, if there are no Bugs, what is the government sending thousands of soldiers out for?
    • "Fresh meat for the grinder".
    • Probably a similar situation to Halo before the Covenant arrived: Rebellion. The film mentions "Mormon extremists" striking out of Federation control into the quarantine zone, it's not unreasonable to believe that there are other groups trying to escape the control of a government that tries, convicts, and carries out the sentence on criminals in a single day.

The Xenomorphs are the descendants of the Bugs.
After losing their first war with Humans, they adapted. They got rid of the Brain Bug (which was clearly an idiot anyway). They developed a more streamlined shape somewhat similar to their foes (jaws, hands, bipedalism), acid blood for close defence, and a method of reproduction that involved using their enemies to their own advantage. Meanwhile, humanity spread further out into space until they had to use coldsleep chambers on long-range starships. Earth's world government dissolved into national governments; the resulting wars caused their military forces to re-acquire tactical skills.

Neither the Bugs or the Federation sent the asteroid
The plasma bursts that blast the rocks out of Klendathu's orbit are natural phernomina like volcanos. So basicley the Federation wen't to war for nothing!
  • Or even better, there was no bug plasma involved. It was just a rogue asteroid that happened to slam into Earth. The Bug War was going to happen anyways, for unrelated reasons (the humans encroaching into Bug Territory being a big one), and this was simply a sort of Havana Harbour incident that set things off.

Birth control has been perfected for teens and STDs have been wiped out. People can choose to become reproductively viable when they feel they are ready.
They certainly don't seem to mind teens sleeping around.
  • And as it seems only citizens have the right to breed, people know they won't ever have to deal with actually having children.
    • Rico's father wasn't a citizen, but may have been given the right through his lucrative business.
  • One woman says that getting a license to breed is easier if you're a citizen, not that it's the only way.
    • She also said she wanted to have babies, not "a baby". Possibly non-citizens are allowed only one child per family, which would explain why none of the recruits mention any siblings.

The Skinnies were manipulating both sides of the Bug War.
The Skinnies, in an undoubtedly complex plan, got the 2 largest galactic empires (and thus, the 2 greatest threats against any plan concerning the galaxy) to go at each other. Once the Men and the Bugs destroy each other, the Skinnies will swoop in and "pick up the pieces". It doesn't matter who wins, the Skinnies will be the final winner.

As part of the above, it was the Skinnies who sent the Asteroid.
Again, to try and manipulate both factions into a war and then swoop in to pick the pieces.

Humanity is doomed.
The clearest evidence of this is that, while the Federation is clearly a militaristic society, the government has imposed population controls by requiring people to get licenses in order to have children. It's easier to get one if you're a citizen, meaning that they attract people who want to have lots of children into a career where they're likely to get killed or maimed before they can. They treat their soldiers like expendable resources, and their training and tactics are virtually worthless. A combination of constant war dead without replacements being born means that humanity will wear itself out in a few decades.
  • Not everybody who is a citizen was in the military. At any given moment, only 5-10% of the Federal Service is military. And you aren't a citizen until after you LEAVE the Federal Service.
  • The feds probably relaxed the birth control after they started taking such heavy casualties in the war. There's not a mention of the license needed when the woman gets pregant in the second film. Plus the war probably isn't goign to last much longer not the feds have their planet busting Q bomb and their Humungas Mecha that can kill hundreds of bugs each and are impervious to their attacks.
  • It's also possible that the Population Control policy only applies to Earth. Humans' space colonies impinging on Bugs' turf is what kicked off the whole mess in the first place, so perhaps the prospect of being allowed to have kids was used to encourage colonization in the years before the war started. Note that the first human colony that was (for real or ostensibly) massacred by Bugs was a religious community, whose members would most likely have chafed under strictures like that.

Secretly, women are assigned according to their stature and toughness.
The pretty, waifish girls get assigned to fleet (Carmen, and that blonde with her friends). Tough girls get put in Mobile Infantry (Dizz, etc). This is so the real beauties don't get killed in Mobile Infantry and are thus more likely to pass on their genes. Of course fleet's dangerous, too - but not as much front-line danger.
  • Could just be selection/choice. A thin stick isn't going to make it as a grunt anyway. And if you get too butch to fit in a cockpit, fleet is not in your career option plan.
  • Something like this actually happens in the book, but for more practical reasons: Mobile Infantry is a job that requires physical strength, so only fit men are assigned to it (yes, Dizz was a man in the book) and they're further pruned out with the boot camp, while piloting a starship requires quick reflexes and knowledge of high-level maths that (in the book) women tend to have more often, and because of this (and women being more numerous than men) most of the starship pilots are female. And it's done openly.

Katrina gets turned into the Hive Queen of the Brain Bugs.
Katrina is the cute, redheaded, opera-singing trooper who admits, during the shower scene, that she only joined the Mobile Infantry because she wants to have children. In the Klendathu battle sequence, she's also the only soldier who we see giving into terror and running away; however, the ground opens up under her, and the last we see of her is when bugs are dragging her, screaming, into a tunnel. The bugs knew that she had maternal instincts and they accordingly subjected her to a supremely horrible Fate Worse than Death which transformed into a hybrid bug-human Hive Queen that gives birth to the Brain Bugs. How we do know? The Brain Bug that they capture is the only bug that shows fear, just as Katrina is the only trooper who displays real fear; and since it gives up its secrets to Carl, it can also be said to be the only bug that sings, just as Katrina sings opera when Rico is on the phone to Carmen.

There are far more Terrans than there are Bugs
As seen in the films, the humans are prone to taking huge numbers of casualties in any fight (heck, in every film, it's rare for more than a handful of named characters to still be standing when the credits roll, nevermind the unnamed guys). While the humans do inflict significant casualties on the Bugs in return, the fact that they are able to carry on a years-long protracted war of attrition with them implies that the humans have a vast population base to dig into for "fresh meat for the grinder". Either the Bugs commit a relatively small portion of their numbers as Warriors (the rest being various worker types or whatever), or the humans significantly outnumber the Bugs.
  • In the first movie at least, being in the military is totally by choice, and not one that everyone agrees with; and then boot camp further whittles down the number of soldiers. So it's likely that only a small fraction of humanity is fighting at any time. Meanwhile the bugs are probably throwing everything they have at them.

The humans want the planets and are killing the bugs so there is no opposition for a takeover.

Why else would the bug infested planets just conveniently have an atmosphere they can breathe on?

  • This is indicated by the fact that the Federation doesn't use any tactic that could potentially render the planets unusable. They aren't hurling asteroids, poisoning the atmosphere or releasing biological agents all of which would be massively effective, but leave the planets hostile environments for human life.
  • Actually stated in the book: they only invade planets that humans can inhabit. Bug-held worlds that are inhospitable to humans get bombed into oblivion, the only exceptions being Klendathu (raided at the start of the war when the humans didn't have the means to shatter it yet and now has prisoners on it, and Planet P, that they invade to capture Brain Bugs and possibly Queens).

The humans have not fought a conventional war in generations.

The reason the humans get slaughtered by the bugs is because their military is designed from the ground up to function as a civil police unit, not an interplanetary invasion force. Their lack of any armoured vehicles is because they were phased out decades or even centuries ago as being ineffecient for putting down rebellions or uprisings due to the military having complete air superiority in such scenarios anyway. The tactical doctrines that MI employs place emphasis on overwhelming lightly entrenched enemy positions with large numbers of highly mobile yet individually expendable troops, only deploying heavier weapons when absolutely necessary. These tactics and the technology that supports them have become so engrained in the military psyche after generations of success that their first encounters with the bugs ended in utter disaster. It is only after the initial horrific losses on Klendathu that the human military begin to research alternate tactics and appoint more free-thinking commanders capable of improvising on the scene instead of following established doctrine to the letter.

The entire wars real aim is to reduce population pressure on Earth.
If you look at size of scale of the cities of earth, B. Aries, pop. some 20 million+, which probably rather typical and a lot of Earths cities are likely even larger and more densely populated. The size of the B.Aries buildings, the mega-scale ring surrounding the moon, and lastly the fact that births are licensed clearly indicate that the Federation has a problem. Even with population controls, white elephant mega-structures(aka job creation) and a relentless focus on hyper-militarism and competition,Earths leaders have been informed by their own experts unless something is done to relieve the population pressures and soon-Earth could well see wide-spread upheaval, regardless of how totalitarian the Federation is.When the Federation discovers the arachnids, a race of intelligent, but non-technological beings, the opportunity was too good to pass up. The Federation now has an 'out'. A way to wage war against an enemy that has no ability to threaten Earth or its colonies in any way, but are perfect fodder for fighting mass, WWI style campaigns on distant worlds using tactics and weapons that designed to lead to bloody tactical defeats and stalemates. For example, the 'Mobile Infantry' is a curiously I-Mobile infantry. Federation troops are so heavily conditioned it does not even occur for any to ask why they go everywhere on foot. Logistics issues aside, providing no transport or armored vehicles insures human troops are often ambushed with no vehicle protection or mobility of any kind. This again, helps maximize battlefield deaths. The war is intended to drag on for years, and inflict maximum casualties on the ground forces involved. This also helps with the population problem. Since women are totally integrated into all combat units, females killed in combat dont live to reproduce. The 'bug' war is very effective way to kill off breeding pairs in a way that is acceptable to the population at large. The average citizen thinks the war is being fought to 'win', when in fact, its real goals are to mobilize the population, avert a collapse on Earth, provide an outlet for repressed hyper-aggressiveness, and most importantly, to kill as many breeding age men and woman on the battlefield as is possible. As fast the Federation 'liberates' the barren, useless worlds they fight on, the Fed is transporting arachnids(via starships of course) to 'new' worlds to fight over. This helps explain why the Initial Invasion of Klendathu was such a failure-it was meant to be. The more casualties and losses-the better. The worst outcome@ 'Big K' would have been if the MI was actually able to win with low losses. Thankfully, the combination of the MI's inept tactics, poor gear, deliberate intelligence failures and bugs understandable effectiveness at defending their own homes provided the humiliating defeat the Federation needed, and indeed planned for. The 'defeat' at big K had no effect on Earth besides the loss of some mass-produced, low-quality gear and surplus males and females. Battlefield losses are of no consequence and easily replaced.
  • The entire Federation military purpose is part of the population control as above, it is also about making people prove their worth, that they are willing to put their life on the line for the Federation. Well, to prove you are willing to put your life on the line, a few people gotta die to prove the situation is serious, so "C'mon you apes, you wanna live forver? CHARGE!!" tactics...using the word tactics lightly. The problem was the humans didn't expect to actually loose the battle. They figured their would be heavy, heavy human looses, thinning their own herd and controlling the number of new citizens. The bugs were perfect for this because the fleet could just sit in orbit and drop troops as needed to satisfy the Federation agenda of population and new citizen control...except the Bugs blew the fuck out of the fleet, effectively repelling the humans. THIS the humans did not expect. The burning wrecks of ships was a propaganda disaster and a wake up call to the Federation to put the f'ed self justifying politics aside and use ACTUAL military tactics. However, as someone pointed out above, the Federation hasn't fought an actual war in a long, long time, and their military logistics isn't ready to wage actual smart tactics, so this politically advantageous exercise in pretend war became an actual battle for survival because humanity was totally unprepared for this psychologically, socially and logistically.
  • In the novel, this was the case. The federation kept the military around so that people who joined up could become citizens and updated their hardware just-in-case they ever got into a fight again; to the point that footsoldiers and tanks became the same thing.

The book takes place shortly before the events of Ender's Game.
The world government is fighting a protracted war to exterminate a Hive Mind alien race, right? Their next tactic will be to train up a child genius who will do just that.

The asteroid was a false flag attack.
The Federation intentionally sent the asteroid on a collision course with Buenos Aires to justify invading Klendathu, as the Federation believes mankind is superior to all aliens, and must be in complete control of the galaxy to achieve its Manifest Destiny.
  • Alternatively, it was a natural asteroid that wasn't even going to hit Earth until Carmen altered its course by crashing into it