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Loving Helldivers 2? You need to check out this 90s classic, then

Dive right in.

Three soldiers from Helldivers posed in front of yellow smoke on the left, Johnny Grico, a soldier covered in alien blood, fire burning in the background.
Image credit: Arrowhead/ Sony

You've probably been seeing a lot of space marines on your timeline recently. That'll be in no small part thanks to the surprising, and slightly overwhelming, success of Helldivers 2, which has certainly adorned my timeline with numerous clips of human on bug-stroke-automaton action. It's a classic case of word-of-mouth, and funny and cool clips propelling it higher than any kind of ad campaign possibly could. Ironically, it's also all over the internet right around the same time that there's discourse (deep sigh) about Starship Troopers. Ironically still, Starship Troopers just so happens to be the perfect film to watch if you're loving Helldivers 2.

If you know the premise of Helldivers, then you pretty much already know the premise of Starship Troopers, but I'll run it down for you anyway. Set in the 23rd century, the Paul Verhoeven directed film follows teenager Johnny Rico and his friends signing up to join the military. This specifically involves going off to fight alien bugs that supposedly want to wipe out the human race, described as both intelligent enough to purposely launch asteroids at Earth from lightyears away, but stupid enough to only live off the instinct to kill and nothing else - the contradictory nature of those two things being very much on purpose, of course.

You see, while the protagonist of the film is the strong-chinned Johnny, he is not what one might call a good guy. He initially signs up to join the military simply because his girlfriend does, he has no real purpose in life, he's just there because that's what his hormones told him to do. A short way into the film his family is culled by the bugs (supposedly), and lo-and-behold, there's his motivation! He hates bugs now and wants to wipe every last one of them out.

The problem is, as the film goes along, you kind of start noticing that there's no real indication as to why the bugs are supposedly dead-set on killing humans. You can't even really tell if these bugs are going round colonising planets or something, and you're never told what started the war – you just know the humans are the good guys. Of course. Obviously.

Then, you start to notice that some of the military's symbols look a lot like those used by the Nazis… and that the military is glorified a touch too much… and that strong-chinned Johnny is a little bit too handsome, with his blonde hair and blue eyes… Ah. Are we the baddies?

A close-up of a woman soldier, other soldiers lined-up next to her, she's looking into the camera.
Are you doing your part? | Image credit: Sony

The answer to that question is, probably, yes, as Verhoeven literally based his interpretation on the 1959 novel of the same name on his own experiences under the Nazi-occupied Netherlands as a child. Despite what some chuds on Twitter might think, Starship Troopers is actually quite anti-facist. It deconstructs extremely far-right propaganda in a satirical manner, all the while showing how militaristic rule just results in bloody, gruesome death (it feels like no accident that so many characters you see being killed off are people of colour, either).

At the time of its release Starship Troopers wasn't that well-received because many interpreted it as rather pro-fascist, thought of as a glorification of violence and the effects of war. But luckily you and I have the benefit of hindsight and can look deeper into the film, and see it for what it actually is.

It feels like a pretty perfect companion piece to the equally satirical Helldivers 2, whose video game format might better lend itself to over the top violence and action. It doesn't always make for easy watching (there's several scenes of limbs getting chopped off and bodies being ripped in half), but if you need something to put on while you wait for Helldivers 2's servers to empty out a bit, Starship Troopers is the one to go for.

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