Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality


“Starship Troopers” reboot in the works

December 3, 2011

In our last blog post about the casting of Tom Cruise in All You Need is Kill, we mentioned the 1997 adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s seminal science fiction novel, Starship Troopers.

The main character of Starship Troopers by Heinlein: Juan Rico, a Filipino hero (rare in science fiction even today.)
The main character of Starship Troopers by Hollywood: John Rico, a white guy played by Casper Van Dien.

Juan Rico is blatantly Filipino in Starship Troopers. He talks about Ramon Magsaysay and speaks Tagalog as his native language.

On December 3rd, 2011, Hollywood news rag Vulture reported that producer Neal Moritz will produce a reboot of Starship Troopers for Sony, to be written by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (X-Men: First Class)

Just to put this out here:

Dear Mr. Moritz, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Stenz,

If you’re going to do it, well, your reboot of Starship Troopers is also your chance to un-whitewash Starship Troopers. The main character of the novel, Juan Rico, is Filipino and we hope you will cast an pinoy actor in this role. It is long overdue.

With optimism,


Categories: All You Need is Kill, blog

About the Author

Marissa Lee is one of the co-founders of Racebending.com

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  • James Mendez Hodes

    Dear Dante Basco: Please swoop out of the sky and save this project. Love, Filipinos

    • Full Metal Ox

      Mark Dacascos could work, too.

      • If they cant fully trust a Filipino Guy for the role, at least a Eurasian Filipino guy who is racially ambigious can do.

  • I really do hope that they have a Filipino actor, but this is Aryanwod we are talking about

    • Jon

      I’ve started referring to Warner Bros. as White Boys.

      • they all the same racist Hollywood to me

        • I hope admins will approve my votes,it could be the key to make this happen. To let Rico finally be what he was.

  • Eventua

    As an aspiring author, scriptwriter and game designer, I am determined not to let this sort of thing happen. Obviously it’s rather unlikely that I would be so fortunate as to have anything I write be adapted into a movie or a TV series, but I think that I would definitely want to be given a crucial role in both casting calls and the casting process.

    I’d make sure they were true to my original vision, and the other people would make sure they had talent. Win/win situation, right? ūüėÄ

    Just to clarify, I try to write stories from various perspectives (including other races), and I mainly write science fiction & fantasy, so, uh, yes. Rambling now. :/

  • Anonymous

    Heinlein actually played pretty coy with the whole “Filipino” identity for Rico. You know that he’s from a “warm climate”, and that he has a “hispanic” name, but I didn’t actually know that he was probably Filipino until he mentioned that Tagalog was his native tongue (I didn’t pick up on the “Magsaysay” reference.

    I agree that it would be cool to have a Filipino actor for Rico, or even just an actor who looks like a Filipino person.

    • Enjaysee

      I didn’t even pick it up that Juan Rico was Filipino until the very last page of the novel.

      • ¬†Heinlein liked to mess with his readers’ prejudices that way. “Oh, you thought this character was white? Where did you get that idea?” Note that almost nobody in ST is given an ethnic description, requiring us to go by their names for the most part.

  • Hey Race Bending,I think I have a good strategy to make the Juan Rico Campaign work. Send this petition to famous Filipino celebs (not Hollywood celebs) we need to attract Filipinos from the¬†Philippines¬†first. Filipinos are always excited for representation, Look how supportive they were to their athletes, Pageant girls and many more. they were supportive to online¬†campaigns, they voted hard to put their underground cave to be in the natural seven wonders online campaign.

    The¬†campaign¬†to make Juan Rico finally a Filipino will work if you start with Filipinos, I’m sure Filipino Americans and Asian Americans will follow through next.¬†

    To start this campaign, try to contact celebrities in the Philippines twitter account, a lot of them have millions of followers.

    Make a petition at twitter first… Please try starting this campaign in the¬†Philippines¬†first , then United States can follow next.

    • Juan “Johnny” Rico

      About the name Johnny…

      Even in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (the 2000 animated series) he is referred to as “Johnny” and he looks more Filipino in design. So I see him more as Juan “Johnny” Rico as a nickname more then a changed name. And yes I have read/seen the novel/movie (only the first)/TV series and it’s my opinion.

      Also, wasn’t Carl originally female?

      My concern is less about the whitewashing (Though a Filipino Johnny would be required on my list) and more towards actually trying to get Heinlein’s novel correct on screen. 1997’s adaptation was okay, it was a popcorn movie and nothing more. Also the movie needed more Neil Patrick Harris, lots and lots of Neil Patrick Harris. ūüôā

      The series got it closer using the marauders and spacesuits.

      Let’s hope they it gets right.

  • Jake the Dog

    I think you might have missed the point of 97 movie.. I mean that was kind of the point of the movie version where everything was shown in a sort of WW2 American propaganda style with everything being as politically acceptable as possible. The movie is basically built around actions like that. You should watch the commentary since it seems a lot of people missed the point.

  • I don’t think you guys get the Film version of Starship Trooper lol Like Jake says it is kinda a piss take on a propaganda movie thats why is was so rediculos that this guy has a a clearly spanish sounding name and is from Mexico City but is white as the driven snow. If i’m honest i’m not sure a stright take on ST would work since it has some pretty funny/scary views on the military and it effect on a persons moral character ect.

    But if they have to remake it Having Rico be Filiopino would at least make this remake worth it.

  • Anonymous

    a possible whitewashing of Mitsurguri in soul calibur


  • Thawhtet8

    Also tell the people to put power armor and libertarianism (like in the book) in Starship troopers reboot.

  • guest1

    do you know pinoy is like a rude nick to call
    hope the movie wont be destroy by racebending
    (avater last airbender MOVIE)

    • ‘Pinoy’ is not a rude nickname. Otherwise Filipinos would not be using it for themselves. I think you’re referring to “flip”. Now THAT’S rude.

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  • tootiredoftheright

    Ah the majority of the book Starship Troopers you had no idea that Rico was Filipino. It wasn’t until the end of the book you actually had confirmation of his racial identity. It wasn’t important.

  • Optimusnorm

    There’s a lot of issues with the Starship Troopers film aside from Rico’s race. The movie depicts some sort of militaristic fascism that is majority white and utterly careless with life.

    The book depicts a representative democracy where no one in the military could be in office until they leave the military. Where freedom of speech is mentioned as religious freedom is practised. The first three chapters of the book are full of characters belittling the military and Rico’s decision to do his Civic Service there (most of the Citizens are not from a military background).

    And then there is the multi-ethnic aspect of the book. From the names of people mentioned there are Turks, Georgians, English, Japanese, Spanish and Zulu. The book was written in 1959 in an America that still had race segregation laws in many states. The only other sci-fi that comes close to not allowing ethnicity to stand in the way of progress and oppurtunity was Star Trek which came a decade later. Race in the book isn’t even made a big deal (and rightly so), what it focuses is on personal conviction, courage, civic duty, elite military training and of course…really cool powered armour!

    I forgot to mention the gender equality in the book – probably the only thing the movie got right. It failed at everything else, especially the really dumb and wasteful military tactics.

    I would love to see a film that is closer to the book. It would piss off a lot of people though. A main character who isn’t white and isn’t overplaying his or her racial origin. A global government where English is the official language. A political system that is completely democratic but that restricts the right to vote or run for office to people who have carried out some form of service to the state first. It would make a LOT of modern politicians nervous I’m sure.