At first glance, Battleship appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill action blockbuster where plucky humans defeat scary aliens using cunning and cleverness rather than overwhelming force. The audience is led to believe that the aliens are threatening and hostile.

However, there's a decent amount of evidence that the story as told from the hero's point of view is not the whole story:

  • The film goes out of its way to show the aliens as non-hostile from the start. They only attack military targets, either when provoked or when it's necessary to further their objective.
  • The camera is very quick to cut away when it appears that a defenceless target is being attacked, meaning the audience never gets to see what happened.
  • Every violent act committed by the aliens is in response to aggression from the humans. (In response to a comment, I'll concede that firing into traffic at Pearl Harbor is a hostile act. However, by the time this happens, the humans have already escalated hostilities, so it's not like it was completely unprovoked).
  • The protagonist constantly makes mistakes and escalates hostilities at every opportunity. He actually botches the entire first contact mission, starts a war, gets huge numbers of innocent people killed, and also kills all of the aliens. At the end he is lauded as a hero despite all this. (Not to mention that the aliens were invited to Earth in the first place).
  • Every time we see an alien's face, the alien is looking scared, panicked or threatened. This includes shots of the aliens on land and in their ships.
  • The aliens have multiple opportunities to kill the protagonist (and many others) and spare their life every time.

In short: peaceful aliens come to Earth after receiving a signal from humanity. Their communications ship hits something in orbit and crash lands. They attempt to use a communications satellite to phone home, but are assaulted from all sides by the hostile natives.

The subtext here is so blatant that it can't possibly be unintentional. However, I can find no reference to this anywhere (presumably because the movie was panned by critics so no-one took it seriously).

I guess I have a few questions with this in mind:

  1. The central assumption is that the aliens are trying to access the communications satellite to summon reinforcements for a hostile invasion. Is this ever explicitly stated in the film? Or is it simply an assumption made by an unreliable character?
  2. Is this reading of the text supported by the text itself, or have I missed something important?
  3. Has anyone involved in the making of the film ever alluded to this potential subtext?
  • 3
    Too bad I haven't seen the movie, would really like to up-vote this question as it sounds pretty interesting.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 17, 2013 at 17:27
  • 4
    I'll also mention that the song played over the closing credits is Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a well-known protest song.
    – toryan
    Jul 17, 2013 at 17:35
  • I viewed the song to be a metaphor for Hopper being on the road to becoming the Admiral's new son-in-law. Jul 18, 2013 at 10:51
  • 2
    @Paulster2 it has an even more literal meaning: Alex Hopper's brother, Stone, is killed, making Alex a literal "fortunate son".
    – toryan
    Jul 18, 2013 at 14:55
  • Very good point :-) Jul 18, 2013 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


I couldn't disagree more with your assumptions. One point you have absolutely wrong is the assertion "every violent act committed by the aliens is in response to aggression from the humans". I would like to point at least one scene which would depose this position. When the main "ship" (whatever it was) shoots to two balls into Pearl Harbor, it is to do two things:

  • Take out any and all military resistance
  • Shut down the infrastructure

This is complete aggression. I see no way around it.

I believe what is happening is this: the invaders do not see anything "we" have (or can do) as anything which can oppose them, so as long as we don't get in their way, they couldn't care less. They are there to complete their mission. It's not that they are non-hostile (I mean, what do you call taking over a planet if not hostile? They didn't try to communicate with us before hand), it's that don't believe we have anything which can touch them. Not much us puny humans can do to stop them, so they just don't care. The aliens couldn't care less about 1st contact. They are looking for conquest.

It is an interesting theory, I just think it's off-base is all. Again, JMHO, but I guess that's what the call for analysis is all about, right?

  • 2
    Agree. The aliens are avoiding fights, because their main mission is to phone home and get backup. Till then, they are avoiding unnecessary fights, for practical, not philosophical reasons Jul 17, 2013 at 21:17
  • 1
    I'll concede that firing into traffic is a problem for this analysis, I'll need to re-watch that sequence to get a better handle on it. If it is unprovoked, it's one of very few hostile acts the aliens commit, if not the only one.
    – toryan
    Jul 18, 2013 at 12:49
  • 1
    I agree much of the aggression on the part of the aliens is done in retaliation, but when taken as a whole, isn't the entire movie one big aggression on their part? Coming to Earth unannounced, then landing, covering with a shield (protection so they can do what they want without the full forces of Earth to worry about), shutting down anything which can stop them (two balls to Pearl), then setting up camp to send message back home. I really just think they are trying to be as efficient as possible. Unless something gets in their way, they are not worried about it. Jul 18, 2013 at 12:58
  • Not necessarily. Humans sent out a signal to their planet, and they responded. Arguably, they were invited here. Obviously it all went wrong when their communications ship crashed.
    – toryan
    Jul 18, 2013 at 13:29
  • 1
    The signal was just a reason to come visit (see what's going on). The five "ships" (of which the comms ship is destroyed) are just an advanced party. If all's good, call for the main body. Personally, I think this is an opening for a part two where the home world comes to see what happened to the advanced party. Jul 18, 2013 at 13:39

Yes I agree. The hint if given right near the start of the film, when the wreckage of the alien ship (which has accidentally clipped an earthling satellite and been trashed as a result) falls onto Hong Kong, narrowly missing a large statue of the Buddha, which by its own peaceful nature goes unharmed. If mankind had received the aliens in the same peaceful spirit in which they came, there would have been no conflict at all.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .