Super Mario Brothers (1993) is often considered the first proper game-to-film adaptation. While some of the original pitches held much promise, what we ended up with was perhaps the strangest take on the franchise possible. While it has its cult following (see the linked website), it was a commercial flop upon release. Bob Hoskins (Mario) has mentioned that the movie was the worst thing he ever did. Later adaptations through the decade, including Street Fighter and Double Dragon, didn’t fare much better.
We would continue to see unimpressive Hollywood takes on leading industry names throughout the years. Although, the script appears to have been flipped at the turn of the decade (come on, I had to). Detective Pikachu (2019) and Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), in particular, have proved that video games can work on the big screen. And that they can appeal to both a general audience and fans of the source material alike. With a brand new Super Mario movie on the horizon next year, the future certainly looks brighter than ever for these adaptations.
And the best part about it? It’s not too far of a stretch to say that we may finally see a Legend of Zelda or Metroid film, at least according to recent hints dropped by figures at Nintendo.
“We have also already embarked on multiple other visual content expansion projects, and are pursuing further opportunities.” said Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa in a briefing last year.
Nintendo, a company notorious for the tough defense of its intellectual properties, appears to have relaxed its grip when it comes to others involved with their vault of franchises.
“ …we will continue to invest in these entertainment expansion initiatives to increase the number of people who have access to our IP. “
Furukawa has continued to hint at the future, going as far as to say in a recent interview with Fast Company that “Animation, in general, is something that we [Nintendo] are looking into, and not just this franchise. (Mario)”.
While nothing other than the Super Mario movie is officially confirmed, it’s all but a guarantee that we will continue to see these beloved characters in other forms of media. Considering the waves, Animal Crossing has made in the past year or so, I would say it’s a prime candidate for a big screen or Netflix debut. Possibly alongside older properties such as the aforementioned, Legend of Zelda.
What Nintendo franchises would you like to get the film or animated series treatment? I wouldn’t mind seeing another animated series revolving around the Donkey Kong Country series. Sans the musical numbers...I value what’s left of my sanity.