Ranker Rundown: Mario Powers Up With 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'



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After dozens, if not hundreds, of mediocre video game adaptations that gamers had to sit through over the years, it looks like Universal is going to finally pull out a winner with The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

If you have not seen it yet, please stop what you are doing and watch The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer right now. It is imperative.

Fan reaction to the trailer has been tremendous, highlighting all the high points of the Mario Bros. gaming franchise. From Donkey Kong to Fire Flowers to Rainbow Road, the movie promises to include aspects from across the franchise, much to the delight of the fan base.

But before you buckle up and head out to the theater, here are few small details and backstory to help you power up before the feature. 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens everywhere April 5

  • First, A History Lesson
    Photo: Donkey Kong / Nintendo

    First, A History Lesson

    It all started with an ape...

    In 1981, Shigeru Miyamoto created a delightful little arcade game that involved a small plumber who needs to save a damsel in distress from a rather large gorilla. The game was originally based on Popeye and Olive Oyl with Bluto as the foil, but Nintendo's inability to nab the rights forced Miyamoto to change the characters.

    The success of the game both as a console and for home gaming systems immediately put Nintendo on the map. To follow the success of Donkey Kong, the company released Mario Bros. in 1983. Now featuring Mario and his brother Luigi, the plumbers are battling turtles, crabs, and vermin in a sewer.

    It was another hit. More and more spinoffs were released, as well as versions for any and every home gaming system at the time.

    In 1985, Super Mario Bros. made its debut and changed gaming forever, as it was one of the first modern side-scroller video games, moving gaming away from single-screen platformers. The game introduced characters such as Princess Toadstool (later Peach) and the Goombas, as well as revolutionary concepts such as power ups.

    Since then, the franchise has spawned hundreds of Mario games of various genres, from racing to horror. Mario can be found racing down Rainbow Road or on tennis courts. He's battled Donkey Kong, Wario, and Bowser, while his brother Luigi attempts to conquer haunted mansions. There are Paper Marios, flying Bee Marios, hopping Frog Marios, indestructible Metal Marios, undead Boo Marios, and lethal Fire Marios.

    But there has never been a successful movie…

    Ranker readers and gamers have been rating the top Mario games of all time, as well as the top Mario party games. You can also beef up on your Super Mario Bros. knowledge by checking out Things You Never Knew About Super Mario Bros.

  • Video Game Adaptations Are Hot Right Now
    Photo: The Last of Us / HBO

    Video Game Adaptations Are Hot Right Now

    Now is the right time for a good Mario movie, thanks to groundbreaking movies and TV shows that finally, FINALLY convinced audiences to trust video game adaptations.

    After dealing with rancid Resident Evils, mediocre Mortal Combats, trashy Tomb Raiders, and second-rate Street Fighters, to name a few, moviegoers practically lost all faith in the genre.

    But seemingly overnight, GOOD adaptations for video games were available. Sonic got a family-friendly franchise (after a much-needed makeover), while Castlevania found a fan base with the anime folks. The Witcher quickly earned a following thanks to Netflix, while Arcane got animated.

    In 2023, HBO put the full force of its prestige programming might behind the mother of all video game adaptation, The Last of Us. Brilliantly written and thought-provoking, the series quickly became a hit and proved once and for all that yes, video games can become more than niche content. They can be important.

    Will The Super Mario Bros. Movie be important or prestige programming? Probably not. But will it be fun and capitalize on the newfound trust in video game movies?

    Heck. Yeah. 

    Gaming fanatics have their own thoughts on the best video game adaptations to ever hit the silver screen with Best Movies Based On Video Games, as well as what they want to see with Great Video Game Movies Waiting To Happen and Video Games That Should Be Movies.

  • Not The First Time Mario Made It To Movie Theaters
    Photo: Super Mario Bros. / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

    Not The First Time Mario Made It To Movie Theaters

    Earning audience trust due to middling video game movies wasn't the only hurdle The Super Mario Bros. Movie had to jump. It also had to overcome its own infamy after a disastrous first outing.

    The original 1993 Super Mario Bros. was a movie built on good intentions… at first. It had a stacked cast that included Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hopper as King Koopa, Samantha Mathis as Princess "Daisy" (?!?), and Lance Henriksen as The King. It also had a budget of $48 million, so it was not a cheap movie to make.

    So what went wrong?

    The film was helmed by husband-and-wife team Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, co-creators of the Max Headroom series, and it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Morton and Jankel wanted to make a dark and gritty version of the classic game, which was not what Nintendo had in mind. The directing duo began clashing with their overseers. 

    There also wasn't a solid script, as a revolving door of writers was brought in to help punch up the script. The directors constantly changed the script and their thoughts on the project, eventually adding aspects that were not in the game.

    Once production started, executive meddling and the dour attitude of the leads led to a problematic and overwrought production.

    In the end, the final product was awful. Critics hated it. Fans hated it. Everyone who starred in it hated it. In an interview with The Guardian, Hoskins said:

    The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a f***in' nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F***in' nightmare. F***in' idiots.

    Though in recent years the film has found a following based on how friggin' strange it is, it is still regarded as a fascinating mess.

    But that was before. Now, good old Mario has a new lease on life.

    Need a deep dive into the mushroom-fueled world of the original Super Mario Bros. movie? We got you…

  • Don't Forget: Mario Was Also A TV Star
    Photo: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! / DIC Enterprises

    Don't Forget: Mario Was Also A TV Star

    For Gen-Xers and millennials, Mario used to be part of their Saturday morning ritual, with several series that highlighted the antics of Mario and his buddies.

    Saturday Supercade in 1983 was the first animated adaptation of any Mario-related show, offering a smorgasbord of Nintendo toons. It was followed by the short-lived The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! in 1989. Starring "Captain" Lou Albano of WWF fame and Danny Wells (aka Bartender Charlie from The Jeffersons), the series was a mix of live action and animation as a variety show.  

    Following the cancellation of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Mario was in and out of failed small-screen efforts, including Captain N: The Game Master (1989), King Koopa's Kool Kartoons (1989), The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), and Super Mario World (1991), to name a few.

    It wasn't until Donkey Kong Country (1996) and Donkey Kong Planet (1996), which aired only in France, that the Mario franchise finally had a hit. 

    Over on Ranker, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! can be found on several votable lists, including The Best Saturday Morning Cartoons For Mid-'80s To '90s Kids, The Best Cartoons Of The '90s, and The Best Cartoons Of All Time

  • Illumination Is On A Hot Streak

    The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be resurrected on the big screen by animation studio Illumination, which is currently giving Pixar a run for the money.

    Disney juggernaut Pixar has been a dominate force in the animation industry for the better part of three decades, even overcoming its own parent company at times in awards, prestige pics, and box office. But in recent years, Pixar has begun to lose its luster as films have started flailing at the box office, or skipping theaters entirely.

    In this void, Illumination has really begun to shine. The company's 2022 pic Minions: The Rise of Gru earned $940 million worldwide while parent company Universal has helped the animation house find new audiences through nonstop marketing and new rides in theme parks.

    After Super Bowl spots, colorful posters on every bus stop and city surface, as well as a highl -publicized land in the Universal theme parks, Illumination's take on the delightful plumber has hit full frenzy. 

    Ranker readers have been rating Illumination projects, including favorite characters from the Despicable Me universe, every song in the Sing franchise, and 31 Minion Quotes Your Mom Has Probably Shared.

    Also, find out where Illumination pics land in the heart of animation fans with this list on The Best Animated Films Ever, The Best Movies For Families, and The Best New Kids' Movies Of The Last Few Years.

  • Anticipation For The Movie Hits Hard With Almost Every Age Group
    Photo: The Super Mario Bros. Movie / Universal Pictures

    Anticipation For The Movie Hits Hard With Almost Every Age Group

    Because Mario has been around for over 40 years, the age demographic for the movie hits a wide margin. 

    Ranging from Gen-Xers who grew up going to arcades and playing Atari versions of the game, to Gen-Zers who still play Mario Kart, anticipation for the pic is through the roof and breaking most age gap barriers.

    Based on trailers, it looks like the writers did their research, blending aspects of each popular Mario game into the film, giving every age group something to relate to. Grew up on Donkey Kong Country? It's there. Spent time behind the wheel of a kart? That's there, too. Only know Mario from his side-scrolling adventures on the first NES? Don't worry, looks like Bob-omb and Bullet Bill will be well represented.

    In a nutshell, Universal, Illumination, and the creators behind this film know what they are doing, and keeping the fans from every generation in mind.