In Battleship, the aliens wear helmets that enhance their vision by highlighting things in either green or red. It is quite clear that green things are deemed harmless while red things are threats.

Not unlike the predators, it looks like the aliens are very careful not to harm harmless things and refrain from attacking anything which is not a threat. However, this rule does not always apply. Among others:

  • Cannons on the destroyers become red as soon as they are aimed toward the aliens, but the machine gun on the small boat only becomes red when it is fired at them, not sooner.
  • Several people become green as soon as it is clear they are not armed or don't attack the aliens (e.g. the kid in the stadium), but Hopper stays red even after he is disarmed and is trying to escape.
  • Some objects immediately become red (e.g. the pillars of the bridge) even though they are harmless.

I fail to see the logic in that. If the aliens wanted to conquer earth, they would use their powerful firepower to destroy everything, regardless of their nature. If on the other hand they were mere scouts whose mission was to send a message home, they would not initiate conflict and use their formidable shield as a shelter while they wait for reinforcements.

Am I missing something?

  • 1
    Since they in several scenes actually stepped out of their way to not hurt people, like the kid on the baseball field I was expecting an explanation as to why. I agree with the previous comment about escalating and responding to threats and would very much have liked to get an answer as to what their objective really was. Maybe we inadvertently hurt them with our signal somehow? To many questions unanswered.
    – user1850
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 23:19

6 Answers 6


From what I saw, the Aliens were reacting purely in self defense. The point of violent contact occurred when the horn was rang by the Human ship... they replied with a louder horn which hurt the Humans. The humans then fired and the aliens returned fire with superior firepower.

Seems like the events escalated into conflict. The aliens 'respect' for human life in also shown in the fact they do not fire unless threatened OR in meeting specific objectives such as cutting off re-enforcement's by destroying the bridge, and the marine base and the mobile police forces. Note however, this military assault began AFTER the battle between the Human ships and the Aliens began at sea.

  • 5
    Yeah, the movie goes out of its way to show us the aliens' perspectives. Every chance they get to let someone nonviolent go, they do. We're clearly the irrational aggressors. I think their message would have said, "Communications down, please send another one. P.S. Weather is nice." and then their second one probably said, "IRRATIONAL, BLOODTHIRSTY BEASTS!!! NUKE FROM ORBIT! REPEAT!!! NUKE FROM ORBITT!!!!" Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 22:04
  • I bet they got the second message, loud and clear ;) Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 22:05

I just saw the movie last night, despite its poor ratings I liked it a lot.

I think the Red versus Green isn't specifically to do with dangerous items or harmless items, I think its more related to their current objective.

There's probably a default mode that highlights serious weapons like a canon. In the case of the highway, its objective was probably to cut off the potential for any backup to arrive for the humans.

  • Currently i had this question again and looked for it.. landed here. I share your opinion with the color. The color red is for current objective. When Hoppers crew investigated the "kidnapped" alien, the wall exploded and other invaders came in and the Alien lying on the ground was marked red. Later Hopper attacked one of the aliens and i think that one was in the moode to eliminate Hopper. ps: I like the movie a lot aswell
    – Xandrios93
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 14:47

The red and green is to do with wether something is harmless or not but from the scene on the bridge it was merely a necessary target to cut off transportation routes to pave the way for a landing on the island. When Hopper was running away he was still red because they probably already had his intel from the first encounter with him and knew he was a leader along side Captain Nagata if that makes sense so seeing him as a nuisance more then a threat. Also on the scene with the science guy (I dont remember his name) they let him go because he was not threat he was ready to piss himself and they probably did not know what was in his metal brief case because most human tech is considered useless to them except the satalite array. They just focused on the fact that he was ready to piss himself and seen him as no threat and not worth there time.


A) If we were going to make another planet our home, would we kill all the food as soon as we got there?

B) If we went to another planet and found lesser intelligent life and decided to use them for our "menial labor" then we'd try to preserve the ones that are non threatening.

  • It's either A or B: we cannot be both food and slaves to the aliens. In both cases, what's a few dozens of people compared to the billions in the world? Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 5:58
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    @LaurentPireyn: Think of cattle. Traditionally they are both a food source (beef is one of the dominant meat types!) and a working animal (not in our mechanized agriculture, but the standard for any old time peasant who couldn't afford a horse).
    – celtschk
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 13:49

The logic is simple. The color of the objects change according to whether it is harmful or not to the aliens or the aliens want to attack it or not. Now we have to think deeper in this.

The color is "Green" when the object is not harmful in its true sense, meaning if the object is a human being, he should not think evil. We see Hopper had an evil plan to attack the alien in another way. The alien might have perceived it. So he maintained red-alert for him. In case of the cannons, if the direction of them is towards the alien ship, it was shown as "danger" meaning it might fire upon them. The machinegun was never seen by alien ship (I think because the boat was too small to be seen), until it started firing upon the ship. Then they looked at it and it was seen as "red" (as it was firing). In case of pillars, like I said, the alines saw "red", if the object seen is meant to be attacked on. The pillars were meant to be attacked, so it was seen "red".

To question your query to why they did not attack the earth, I would rather say the plan "That they were going to need another planet" was just a mere guessing by Harper. It is not confirmed in the movie. So it might not be true. And that whatever they attacked on earth might be just a precaution, so that the human do not try to attack them.


I'm thinking there was something wrong with their targeting systems. given that they basically couldn't see w/o their systems, they had to rely on them. in the scene where the battleship turns all guns away from the alien ship and the weapons disarm, the alien controller appears frustrated. like he knows its still a threat, but the systems don't and there is poor overrides mechanics.

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