Director Paul Verhoeven admits to never finishing the novel, claiming he read through the first few chapters and became both bored and depressed and told screenwriter Edward neumeier to tell him the rest "It's a very right-wing book". Verhoeven told Empire magazine.
When Rico, Carmen and Carl meet with the recruiting officer after pledging, and the officer shakes hand with Rico, it is revealed that he has lost both his legs. This is not done with any means of special effect or other trickery, as Robert David Hall--the actor who plays the officer--had both legs amputated after an accident in 1978.
Most of the arachnids appearing on film are CGI but a few life-sized, robotic models were built. However, during the battle scenes, the actors wound up looking at director Paul Verhoeven himself who would stand in front of them and jump and scream to elicit their reactions.
Most of the adults in authority positions in the movie are scarred in some way: Rasczak (Michael Ironside) lacks an arm; the biology teacher has scars on her face, and is blind; and the recruiting sergeant has lost both his legs. Director Paul Verhoeven included them as a symbol of the belligerent history of the Federation.
The classroom walls display portraits of major philosophers; Aristotle, Baruch Spinoza, Friedrich Nietzsche and Hannah Arendt. All these thinkers are known for their influence on politics and political theory. Arendt notably worked on totalitarianism, an important theme of the movie.
The base that houses the Fleet Academy is named "Tereshkova" after Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. There are many more examples in the movie of the future being gender-neutral (meaning there is no bigotry based on gender), such as the mixed-shower scene and the female captain.
In the movie Jonny Rico's and some of the other characters' nationalities have been significantly altered from the original novel. In Robert A. Heinlein's novel the story focuses on the first-person narrative of Juan "Jonnie" Rico, a son of a wealthy Filipino family who enlisted in to the Mobile Infantry--a highly futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor and an arsenal of advanced weaponry. In the movie, instead of an elite fighting force equipped with Powered Suits they are a conventional army armed with conventional weapons but apparently without armored vehicles, artillery, most heavy weapons and other vital equipment. The Powered Suits would not feature in the series until Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008).
When Carmen Ibanez is taking the starship out of dock the first time, she flicks a switch to release the hoses attached to the docking platform. That switch is the power switch from a 1982 era IBM PC, the very first PC to see widespread use in home and office.
Fort Ticonderoga is a real fort in upstate New York that was active during the 18th century. It was used by the British during the Seven Years War with the French and then again by American troops during the American Revolutionary War against the British.
This movie, along with RoboCop (1987), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995) and Hollow Man (2000), is one of five separate movie franchises in which the first movie of their respective series (directed by Paul Verhoeven) were more successful than their respective sequels (not directed by Verhoeven); all the sequels either had low box office numbers or were released directly to DVD.
Right before the battle of Klendathdu, Lieutenant Willy (Stephen Ford) says to his trooper's "remember your training and you will make it back alive.", Ironically Lieutenant Willy is the first one to get killed during the battle by a warrior bug, showing he didn't remember his training.
Casper Van Dien says he was often asked why a blonde-haired, blue-eyed actor would play the Argentinian Juan Rico. He suggests that his character was the descendant of exiled Germans. Argentina was famously a hiding place of German war criminals after World War II.
The German dubbing of this film, although changing a lot of the political issues of the story, is partly regarded as cult especially due to lines like "Das ganze Gehirn weggelutscht" ("They sucked his brains out") as performed by Joachim Kerzel.
The heavy weapons mounted on towers featured in the bug assault on the base at Planet P were Degtyaryov-Shpagin Krupnokalibernyi DShK's ("Degtyaryov-Shpagin Large Caliber"), in a twin-gun arrangement on a gimbal mount. The DShK was designed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and fires a 12.7x108mm cartridge, roughly the Soviet equivalent of the American .50-cal. BMG.
The design of the bugs are slightly edited revisions of an unused Shrieker design from "Tremors 2: Aftershocks". Both films special effects were supplied by 'Phil Tippett', who had been working on both films at the same time.
The "Bug planet" scenes were filmed in the Badlands of Hell's Half Acre in Natrona county Wyoming, during filming in the park it was nearly a 110 degrees which prompted the production crew to let the actors and Extras to wear only their black t-shirts under the armor this is because the neck wrap and the jacket is made out of thick rubber wetsuit /clothing which is very hot to wear.
During filming Jake Busey (Ace) suffered heat stroke after working all day in 120 degrees desert sun, this stopped production for a week, when he recovered several large holes were cut into his uniform so he could cool off, many other cast members suits had this modification as well in order to prevent further cases on average there were 25 people per day being treated for heatstroke during filming.
The view that people acquired citizenship and the right to vote through military service reflected the views of "Starship Troopers" author Robert Heinlein his views were influenced by his years in military service during World War II and what he saw as the supposed " laziness" of civilians.
In the back-story of Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside): Rascazk lost his left arm which had been grabbed by a Warrior Bug, during a mission on Klendathu and retired from the Mobile Infantry and became a teacher of History and Moral Philosophy in Buenos Aires.
In the German version the news commentator you hear all the time was dubbed by Egon Hoegen. This results in additional comic relief because he is the man who, with his rather dry and sarcastic voice, narrates every episode of Der 7. Sinn (1966) (a very well known traffic education show).
Some changes from the novel: 1) Carl is killed in a bug raid on a research station. 2) After Rico is promoted to sergeant He is sent to O.C.S. At a transfer station he sees his father has joined the M.I. There is a brief reunion. 3) The wore battlesuits in the novel. Each suit gave a soldier with incredible strength and tremendous firepower. Thus the name Mobile Infantry. 4) Carmen wasn't Rico's girlfriend. She was everyone's friend. After joining up they meet when he's a "third lieutenant" on a ship bound for combat.
The tune Ace plays during R&R time is "Dixie," known as the de facto national anthem of the Confederate States of America and still played often in the Southern US. This is a reference to Ace's Southern heritage.
The use of Nazi imagery for the film's American Heroes occasioned comment at the time of the film's theatrical release, the filmmakers did not explain their reasons for this choice with the result that some viewer's interpreted it as satire,while other's read it as a celebration of Fascism.
In a 2014 interview on the Adam Carolla show, Michael Ironside (Jean Rasczak) who read the book as a youth, said he asked director Paul Verhoeven- who grew up in a Nazi-occupied Netherlands, "why are you doing a right-wing fascist movie"?, Verhoeven replied " if I tell the world that a right-wing fascist way of doing things doesn't work then no one will listen to me, so I'm going to make a perfect fascist world everyone is beautiful, everyone is shiny, everything has big guns and fancy ships but it's only good for killing Fucking bugs!"
Director Paul Verhoeven say's his satirical use of irony and Hyperbole is "playing with fascism or fascist imagery to point out certain aspects of American society of course the movie is about lets all go war and let's all die".
When Carmen meets Johnny at the Spaceport she tells Johnny that "My dad had to help me pack suddenly he's afraid he's never going to see me again" it foreshadows the destruction of Buenos Aires which kills Johnny's parents and Carmen's father.
Before the battle of Klendathdu,when Rico,Dizzy,Ace and Kitten are "Getting Cut together", Kitten say's "we're going to fight and we're going to win" ironically durig the battle of Klendathdu during the general retreat, Kitten gets killed by a warrior bug.
Test audience reactions led to several minor changes before the film was released. Originally, it was clear that Carmen was torn between Rico and Zander. Test audiences, regardless of gender, strongly felt that a woman could not love two men at once, so scenes which portrayed this were cut. These audiences also felt it was immoral for Carmen to choose a career ahead of being loyal to Rico, to the extent that many commented that, in so doing, Carmen should have been the one to die instead of Dizzy. While admitting it may have been a bad commercial decision not to change the film to accommodate this, the directors did cut a scene from after Zander's death where Carmen and Rico kiss, which the audience believed made the previous betrayal even more immoral.
The film was released into cinemas uncut in the UK with a '15' rating, but the BBFC (the British censors) felt they had been too lenient and the same version was upgraded to an '18' rating for video and DVD.
Some critics in The Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven's native country, jokingly referred to the movie as 'Soldier of Orange in Space', referring to Soldier of Orange (1977), one of Verhoeven's earlier Dutch movies. Both movies are about a group of friends who each go their separate ways when war is declared. Some end up working together, while others find themselves at odds with each other.
In the DVD commentary, Director Paul Verhoeven state's his intentions clearly the film's message is that "War makes fascists of us all" he evoked Nazi Germany's fashion,Iconography and Propaganda because he saw it as a natural evolution of the post-WWII United States: "I've heard this film nicknamed All quiet on the final frontier" he said, even Screenwriter Edward Neumeier broadly concurs although he see's the film as a satire on human history rather soley on the U.S.
The powered armor technology that is Central to the book is completely absent in the movie, according to Verhoeven this- and the fascist tone of the book reflected his own experience in Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II.
In a propaganda scene near the start of the movie, mormon extremists are reported to have been massacred by bugs on another planet. Space faring mormons are also depicted in the sci-fi series "The Expanse" (2015). In the mormon compound in the movie, a golden statue with a trumpet can be seen. The same golden statue is the figurehead of the mormon ship the "Nauvoo" in "The Expanse".
Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, Dina Meyer, and Brenda Strong were in DC comics based animated and live-action series. Michael was the voice of the evil tyrant Darkseid on Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League/Justice League: Unlimited, Dark Knight Returns Batman in one episode of The Superman/Batman Adventures. He also played as General Sam Lane in Smallville. And, he played the father of the villain Leonard Snart/Captain Cold in The Flash. Clancy was the voice of Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited. Also, played as General Wade Eiling in The Flash. Dina played the Batgirl/Oracle in the series Birds of Prey. And, Brenda Strong plays as the mother of the villain Lex Luthor Lillian in Supergirl (2015).
In the commentary track on the DVD or Blu-ray release, Director Paul Verhoeven remarks that he had hoped to cast actors who's age closely matched that of the characters and indeed of real-world soldiers but the producers felt such actors would look too young, the teacher and the lieutenant of the Roughnecks in the novel are combined into one role played by Michael Ironside.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Several references are made to WWII Medal of Honor recipient Rodger Wilton Young. During WWII as a small arms instructor, Sgt. Young was denied the opportunity to deploy with his unit when Japan entered the war. He requested that he be voluntarily demoted to private in order to see combat. His wish was granted. Career Sgt. Zim makes a similar request when Buenos Aires is destroyed. His wish is also granted. Also, during WWII, Young gave his life in combat by single-handedly bombarding a Japanese machine gun position with rifle fire and grenades during an ambush, allowing his platoon to escape. While rescuing Carmen from the Brain-bug, Sugar Watkins gives his life in an almost identical fashion by laying down rifle fire and detonating the Nuke so his friends can escape; The starship that Carmen is assigned is also named the Rodger Young.
In the shower scene, Shujimi (Anthony Ruivivar ) says that he joined the Mobile Infantry so that the federation would pay for his studies, which would otherwise have cost him "an arm and a leg." Shujimi later has his limbs ripped off by the bugs.
Several scenes were filmed following Carmen (Denise Richards) coming to grips with the supposed death of Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), while starting a relationship with Zander (Patrick Muldoon). However, test audiences started to hate her character for hooking up with another man so soon after the death of her former lover, and were very vocal about it. The scenes were subsequently deleted, although a relationship between Carmen and Zander is still implied in the rest of the movie.
In the film, during live training, Djana'D (Tami Adrian George) shoots and kills Breckinridge accidentally, resulting in Rico's flogging. In real life, the two actors are together and have a child. They met on this film.
When Rico's father says he would rather take ten lashes in public square than see him ruin his life, it foreshadows what happens to Rico after Breckenridge's death; Rico himself receives ten lashes in a public square.
The reason Carmen's (Denise Richards) father detests Johnny is further elaborated in a deleted scene. Johnny parents aren't citizens; they have money. This is why Ace continuously says to Johnny "you got some guts for a rich kid" and during training "you rich kids are all the same".
In the scene where Carl influences his ferret Cyrano to go "bug" his mom; Rico tells Carl not to do anything like that to him. This foreshadows a scene near the end, wherein Rico saves Carmen as Carl psychically guides him though. Carl later says it's "classified."
The tune Ace plays while Johnny Rico is dancing with Diz is the Mexican song "Las Golondrinas" (The Swallows). Since this melody is mostly played in farewells and closures as a way to say 'good-bye' to someone, it foreshadows the fate of Diz.
The recruiting sergeant says to Carl, who was chosen for military intelligence, "next time we meet, I'll probably be saluting you." Ironically, near the end, Sergeant Zim (who busted himself to Private to get combat) salutes Johnny Rico, who is now a lieutenant.
When Sergeant Zim is roughing up the recruits, he hits Shujumi in the right leg with his baton, this is interesting as Shujumi later gets his right leg cut off by an Arachnid during the battle of Klendathdu.