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TV Tropes Monday: Space Marines

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If Space is an Ocean then when it comes to boarding actions, planetary assaults and all around fighting prowess, you call on the Space Marines. These brave troopers can run the gamut from common cannon fodder to elite invincible machines of destruction. Often they are the former if the action is centered on ships and Admirals, the latter if the closer they get to be protagonist. Although soldiers on ships or sailors doubling as infantry have been around since man took to water, the first corp of marines was created by the Spanish Navy 1537 (and linked to older formations from Naples) . Marines served as shipborne security, sharpshooters, (often firing from precarious perches on the ship’s rigging) and as amphibious raiders. The other tactics common to modern marines, amphibious landings and helicopter assaults came during the 20th century. The U.S. Marines, a common source for this trope, developed both, but during WW2, it was the armies of the Britain, Canada, France and the U.S. that carried the largest amphibious landings in history on D-Day.

Space opera and military sci-fi borrow from this rich tradition to stage boarding actions in space, dangerous planetary assaults and other adrenaline fueled battle actions. The space marine is the first to fight and often equipped with the best weapons available, up to full body power armor which allows them to operate in all manner of conditions, from vacuum to toxic atmosphere.  He tends to deploy via drop pod (or encase in his armor) right from orbit (which is closer to paratroopers than marines, but hey, Rule of Cool), shuttles/gunships (a little rock & roll chopper action like in Vietnam)  and ride into battle on awesome tanks/APCs.

Often the Space Marine is portrayed as a one trick pony, wading into the thick of combat without a care in the world. Real Marines are elite heavy infantry which while taking on tough assignments, are also very methodical, rely on surprise as well as firepower and prefer to catch the enemy unawares rather simply bash their way through the front door. How close the author sticks to the historical model is up to him or her.


For a look at the “classical” Space Marine, take a gander at this (NSFW due to simulated gore and adult language) :



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