It’s a-me! Movie Mario! Well, maybe, as Japanese video game giant have revealed this week that they finally are softening their stance on movie adaptations of their properties, and have even appointed the company’s creative mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto to start interfacing with Hollywood on possible ways of bringing their characters to the big screen.
As I pointed out in my article though, while Nintendo has been around for about as long as there have been video games, boasting a gigantic library of titles, most of them are not exactly conducive to being a movie thanks to little to no narrative and favouring gameplay over everything else. The last time somebody tried to force one of these inappropriate titles onto the screen we ended up with 1993’s Super Mario Bros, a movie so bad that not only did Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo had to first get drunk before they were ready to act in it, but the movie nearly killed Hoskins!
But there are a few ideas from Nintendo that could just work on the big screen. Here are five of them!
- Super Mario Bros
Wait, what contradictory nonsense is this? Didn’t I just say that a Super Mario Bros movie couldn’t work like one paragraph ago? Well, yes I did as that particular version of the movie ended up being a crime against humanity that had very little to do with the actual game in the end. However, two years before that movie would come out, screenwriting duo Jim Jennewein & Tom S. Parker (The Flintstones, Major League) actually turned a script for a Super Mario Bros movie that wasn’t perfect, but was certainly waaaaaaaay more faithful.
It still featured the brotherly pair of Brooklyn plumbers, Mario and Luigi, in modern times, but goes completely fantasy when the pair try to rescue Luigi’s crush Hildy after she’s kidnapped by somebody/something named Koopa. They track the culprit down to a big green drain pipe behind a restaurant and when they enter it they find themselves transported to a fantastical land of rolling green hills, populated by turtles and mushroom people, and join up with Toad and Yoshi to take down the tyrannical Koopa. And instead of a creepy Dennis Hopper, here Koopa is a real dragon-like lizard who lives in a flying fortress. Hell, there’s even a climactic boss fight between Mario and Koopa that happens over a pool of lava.
In the end though, the fantasy script was rejected over budgetary concerns as the type of visual effects needed to pull this whole thing off convincingly just didn’t come cheap or easy back in 1991. It would be a totally different story today though, and could be a really cool, lighthearted all-ages fantasy romp the likes of which we haven’t really seen in a while in Hollywood.
You can go read Jennewein and Parker’s entire script over HERE along with several other Super Mario Bros scripts that also got rejected, including a Mad Max inspired take. Yes, seriously.
- Captain N: The Game Master
Okay, I admit that I’m cheating a bit here. Captain N: The Game Master isn’t actually a Nintendo video game, but it did feature several of their characters and would be a great of using them while overcoming that very same “no narrative” problem I previously mentioned. Released back in the late 80’s as both a comic book and Saturday morning cartoon series, Captain N followed the adventures of Kevin Keene, a teenage gamer who ends up getting zapped into a fantasy dimension known as Videoland, where video game characters are real. Teaming up with the likes of Mega Man, Kid Icarus and Castlevania’s Simon Belmont to form the N Team, Keene aka Captain N has to battle all sorts of Nintendo villains led by Metroid’s Mother Brain, as he fulfills a prophecy to save Videoland from her Forces of Chaos.
Yes, it’s cheesy and cliched, but with the right script and casting it could also be pretty damn fun. And having Captain N travel to the various areas of Videoland will give Nintendo a way of bringing a number of their properties to the screen at the same time without getting overly convoluted about it.
- Star Fox
Just picture it: A thrilling animated Top Gun styled action adventure in space. Only with no topless volleyball matches and way more anthropomorphic animals. Star Fox followed the shoot ’em up adventures of Fox McCloud and his Star Fox team of mercenaries: Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi. The game is set in a distant solar system known as the Lilat System, where two planets populated by human-like animals, Corneria and Venom, are at war with each other.
When an evil scientist is banished from Corneria he flees to Venom and amasses a gigantic army to take revenge on his former homeworld. Corneria has the experimental fighter craft known as the Airwing, which could turn the tide of battle, but not enough time to train pilots for it. Resulting in the elite Star Fox crew being brought in to pilot the Airwing and lead Corneria to victory. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly seen way worse storylines in several big budget Hollywood action flicks.
To make a feature film adaptation of Star Fox even easier, the first game in the franchise was already turned into a comic book series back in the early 90’s, putting in a narrative that strung all the game’s action set pieces together.
Nintendo may be best known for light and fluffy adventures, and the same approach would certainly work best for most of their planned movie adaptations. Most but not all. Especially not for Metroid, the darkly atmospheric action adventure platformer that could make for one really cool sci-fi blockbuster.
The game series tells of the intergalactic exploits of Power Suit wearing bounty hunter Samus Aran and her battles against the villainous hive-like Space Pirates as they try to harvest the parasitic Metroid organisms to use as biological weapons against their enemies, starting with their nemesis: Samus. An ex-soldier who was orphaned by the Space Pirates as a child and then raised/physically enhanced by an alien race on the planet on which the Metroids exist, Samus Aran is one of gaming’s most beloved and most badass heroines. Lauded as one of the first videogames to ever feature a female protagonist, it’s a trailblazing videogame, often ranked in the top 10 games of all time.
It’s also incredibly awesome, just oozing buckets of dread-filled atmosphere, boasting a very memorable cast from Samus herself to the Metroids’ Mother Brain to the Pterodactyl-like Space Pirates leader Ridley and is ripe for a movie makeover. Let it tell Samus’ origins, and then skip ahead to her fight against the Space Pirates and you have the makings of a solid movie. Cast a great female ass-kicker in the lead and you have an even better one.
- The Legend of Zelda
Hollywood has been making sword and sorcery epics for about as long as there has been a Hollywood, and in The Legend of Zelda it could find another blockbuster entry in the genre. The reason why so many fans were so perturbed when it turned out recently that Netflix were not actually making a live-action Zelda series is because it’s such a perfect fit for that form of narrative. The Legend of Zelda series is set of mostly unrelated titled, but all focusing on the heroic Link as he has to rescue the Princess Zelda, guardian of the magical Tri-Force, from some calamity – usually the antagonistic Ganon – in the fantastical land of Hyrule.
That may sound like very run of the mill high-fantasy storytelling, but across the nearly 20 games we’ve seen so far, there has been some seriously epic tales told about Link and Zelda. The best of the lot, 1998’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is about ripe for adaptation a fantasy story as you can find. Spanning years, its an epic tale that features crazy characters, big battles, magical realms and all kinds of twists and turns to the plot.
It’s a story that may require at least two movies to tell properly – especially with the 7 year jump ahead in time at the mid-point of the story – but in the hands of the right director/screenwriter and with the right cast could essentially become like the family-friendly rival to The Lord of the Rings.
Last Updated: August 27, 2015