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The Surprising Similarity Starship Troopers And WandaVision Share

WandaVision played around with its format in a number of interesting ways. The Marvel Disney+ series intrigued and confused viewers with its adoption of various sitcom styles and old TV techniques. Of all the interesting choices that were made on the show, though, one of the most intriguing and surprising remains its use of fake TV commercials.

Indeed, nearly every episode of WandaVision featured a fake commercial of some kind, each one promoting a product that was — in some way — connected to Wanda's (Elizabeth Olsen) emotional journey and traumatic past. Each of the commercials featured the same pair of actors, which just added to their already surreal nature, while the commercials themselves were all layered in ways that made them both odd and tragic at the same time. But WandaVision isn't the first notable TV or film to use fake commercials to its advantage. In fact, the Disney+ series shares that technique with a beloved, cult-favorite sci-fi film from the 1990s.

The fake commercials in Starship Troopers and WandaVision

Paul Verhoeven's late 1990s science-fiction film, Starship Troopers, featured fake commercials in a way that feels very similar to how WandaVision did. The film received mostly negative reviews from critics upon its release back in 1997, but in the years since, it has started to be viewed more positively by critics and dedicated sci-fi fans alike. Its use of fake commercials is one of the aspects of the film that has aged particularly well over the past few years.

While WandaVision's commercials were used to further communicate the show's themes about grief, trauma, and loss, Starship Troopers' commercials help the film's scathing critiques of culturally accepted violence, militarism, and blind patriotism hit home in an unexpected way. Starship Troopers wasn't the first time that director Paul Verhoeven had used fake commercials in a film before, either. The iconic filmmaker also used fake commercials in RoboCop and Total Recall and — just like in Starship Troopers – the commercials in those films allowed Verhoeven to emphasize their themes without having to resort to more traditional storytelling techniques.

Despite how effective the commercials are in both Verhoeven's films and in WandaVision, though, it's still rare to see filmmakers and TV writers use fake advertisements the way those projects do. However, coming off the success of WandaVision, it's entirely possible viewers might start to see TV shows and films employing the technique more and more moving forward. Here's to hoping, anyway.