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The Starship Troopers TV Show You Might Never Get To See

Audiences might soon get the chance to revisit Paul Verhoeven's classic 1997 sci-fi-action parody Starship Troopers — the big question is, how?

Before we dive in, we should note that if you've never experienced Starship Troopers, you should stop reading this, head over to your favorite digital rental platform, give it a watch, and come back. (If you followed that advice, wasn't that awesome? You're welcome!) The film, ostensibly an adaptation of Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel of the same name, flopped upon its release, grossing only $121 million worldwide on a $100 million budget, according to The Numbers. It was also relentlessly panned by critics who saw only what was on the surface (a slick, super-violent military actioner) and failed to recognize the flick for what it actually was (one of the greatest works of satire ever put to film, and one that flipped the pro-military, borderline pro-fascist message of the novel squarely on its head).

In the intervening years, though, the film has come to be regarded as a classic on par with Verhoeven's other masterpiece, 1987's RoboCop. It stars Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, an idealistic young man who enlists in the highly advanced Mobile Infantry to join in the fight against the Bugs, an extraterrestrial race which may or may not have actually started the conflict. Along with his buddies "Dizzy" Flores (Dina Meyer), Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), and Ace Levy (Jake Busey), Rico must mold himself into the perfect soldier under the tutelage of steely Lieutenant Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside). 

In 2020, fans of the flick were a bit wary to hear that a potential movie reboot directed by Tron: Legacy's Joseph Kosinski — an idea which has been kicked around by studio Sony Pictures for the better part of a decade — might be moving forward (via The Guardian). Unfortunately, if it indeed moves to production, it will likely have the effect of putting on ice a different project that sounds far more intriguing: a Starship Troopers television series starring the original cast. 

The Starship Troopers series has been in "early development" since 2019

In a 2019 conversation with HN Entertainment, the original film's screenwriter Ed Neumeier teased the prospect of the series coming to fruition, saying that he "[didn't] want to jinx anything," but that he and unspecified parties had discussed the idea. He also expressed "mixed feelings" about the potential reboot, which he says would aim for a PG-13 rating and would be a very different film from the original. ("I'm not sure who goes to see that movie," he said.)

Following up on that conversation, the same outlet spoke with Jake Busey, who is still close friends with Casper Van Dien and who likes to share pictures of the pair working out together on his Instagram page. He shared that he hadn't spoken with Neumeier about the potential series — but that Van Dien had. "Casper has told me about conversations he's had with Ed. So yes, I will corroborate that," Busey said. "[Neumeier] and Casper have been talking about a series and they've both expressed to me that... they really want me to be part of it, so I think Casper and I would be older men in the battle, in the war room, in the planning room or at the helm of a destroyer but not necessarily boots on the ground."

That sounds pretty amazing, but it wouldn't be Starship Troopers without a big, fat dash of the old Verhoeven subversiveness. It sure seems like in today's polarized political atmosphere, the time would be extremely right to revisit the film's world while maintaining its satirical, anti-fascist bent — and it turns out that Van Dien himself agrees wholeheartedly.

The star of Starship Troopers has some pretty great ideas for the series

In February 2021, the star spoke to Inverse about the ideas he and Neumeier had been discussing, and what he had to say has us pleading with the television gods to let this happen. "I think that Starship Troopers would [make] the best TV series right now," he said. "I think that it was such a cool [movie]... turned into a TV series now, everything that was in the original movie, would fit so well now with today's climate and everything." He went on to echo Busey's thoughts about how veterans of the first film could fit in with the events of such a series. "I think it would be nice to have old man Rico back," he said. "It would be fun to be in there and have some young blood in there, but still have one old, crotchety old man in there, like me... I think that would be a fun thing to shoot. I think with the political climate, and the place we're at today, it would fit so perfect."

Van Dien didn't stop there. He revealed that while filming Alita: Battle Angel, he discussed the idea with that film's director, Robert Rodriguez, who responded enthusiastically. "Robert and I, when we were working on Alita: Battle Angel together, he was talking to me the whole time about Starship Troopers. I know he loves the movie," Van Dien said. He went on to hearken back to the 2019 Scream Awards ceremony, during which he fondly reminisced over the movie with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright, and James Wan. "I think that all those directors, it would be fun to have them come in and do an episode or two or three," he said. "It would be fun if we had that kind of thing where it's real filmmakers making the thing. That would be my goal."

We only have two words for you, Mr. Van Dien: "Yes" and "Please." Let's hope that this project picks up some forward momentum sooner rather than later, because we want it in front of our faces this very minute.