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The Carmen Fan Theory That Changes Everything In Starship Troopers

When "Starship Troopers" hit theaters in 1997, it wasn't exactly a hit at the box office or with critics. In the years since then, though, it has received a bit more love and recognition. The film has become something of a cult classic and is considered ahead of its time — or, at least, still pertinent in today's cultural, social, and political climate (via The New Yorker). 

Set a few hundred years in the future, the plot follows young recruits of the military organization United Citizen Federation as they join the fight against a species of deadly arachnid aliens known as "Bugs." Recent high school graduate Rico (Casper Van Dien) enlists in the Mobile Infantry, while his friend Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) joins military intelligence, and his girlfriend Carmen Ibáñez (Denise Richards) signs up to be a starship pilot. Although the plot is fairly straightforward, the movie's themes and subtext complicate the matter. Initially derided as a silly piece of escapism by some critics, the film actually satirizes U.S. militarism in a deft and penetrating way (according to Calum Marsh of The Atlantic). As such, the nuances of "Starship Troopers" have been intriguing fans for years. 

That means plenty of theories have come out of the film's narrative. One of them, which focuses on Carmen, would basically change how fans look at the way the story unfolds.

Did Carmen start the war when she showed off her skills?

From the start of the film, viewers can tell that Carmen is going places. She's a strong student, which helps her fulfill her dream of entering the training program for starship pilots. In a scene during her first tour, Carmen takes it upon herself to replot the course of the ship she's working on for efficiency's sake. Seconds after her supervisor confirms that she has plotted an optimal course, the ship suddenly encounters a rogue asteroid. Carmen is able to avoid a full-on collision, but the top of the ship still hits the space-rock, causing it to lose its communications array. It turns out, the asteroid came from Klendathu, the Bugs' home planet, and when it hits Earth, it kills millions of people in Buenos Aires, the hometown of our core group of central characters. After that, Earth launches an all-out war against the Bugs.

A user on Reddit theorizes that, in fact, the whole war is therefore Carmen's fault. "I'm no expert on physics in space, but I'll still bet that when the ship struck the meteor it changed the rock's trajectory," u/anthemlog posted. "On a small scale, this means nothing. But on a galactic scale this little bump makes a huge difference. A difference so big that this rock was now sent straight to Earth just from this small bump. Had it not been touched it probably wouldn't even have gone anywhere near Earth."

What if Carmen's encounter with the asteroid wasn't an accident?

If you've seen "Starship Troopers," you know that part of the genius of the film is that it leaves things somewhat ambiguous in terms of who the good guys and the bad guys are. It's even possible that the United Citizen Federation is the aggressor in the war, as the movie hints that the humans were the ones who first transgressed into the arachnids' territory. There's also the question of whether or not the Bugs are intelligent beings, which further plays into the idea that the asteroid was not intended to be an attack, and that it was actually Carmen's actions that caused it to strike Earth. 

In a comment on u/anthemlog's original post, one Redditor took this theory a step further. "Buenos Aires was an inside job, AKA Carmen did it on purpose ... to justify an attack on the arachnids," posted u/Sarlax

"Maybe she can give us the odds that a meteor launched by mindless bugs would destroy her home town after she bumped into it. Bumped into it, that is, after altering the ship's course without notifying anyone, and also being the person who fired the emergency thrusters to 'avoid' hitting it," Sarlax continued. In their post, they noted Carmen's impeccable math skills, which could theoretically help her plan such a covert action, and theorized that she may be secretly working for a special-operations branch of the military. "Miraculously, Carmen saves the entire ship — except the communications tower. How unfortunate! Now there's no way to warn anyone ... Now the government has a nice big war to justify its military-industrial complex, and it has justification to invade and [colonize] arachnid worlds."

Okay, maybe that is stretching things a bit. Still, the whole thing sounds pretty sus to us.