When the live-action sci-fi adventure movie, Super Mario Bros., hit the big screen in 1993, it’s fair to say it wasn’t met with a warm reception. The film – based on the computer game series of the same name – was seen as a weak adaptation of its original source material, and a picture which played fast and loose with its core characters.
The biggest criticism directed at Super Mario Bros. was that the film was nothing like the games. And to be fair, this was a valid criticism, as the movie – which starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo – was a very different affair to what gaming fans were used to and it certainly came as a surprise to audiences.
But did the Super Mario Bros. movie completely ignore the games or did it include a number of references that were either missed or forgotten about? Well, let’s take a look at the gaming references that were included in Super Mario Bros. to see what attempts were made to link the movie with the games.
First up, the most obvious thing to note is that as with their computer game counterparts, both Mario & Luigi are depicted as plumbers – a profession closely linked with the super siblings. This is something referenced in the games, and the cartoons, and it does play a big role in the movie.
Next up, is the inclusion of the character, Princess Daisy (as played by Samantha Mathis). Now, while Daisy isn’t the princess featured in the main run of Super Mario Bros. games (that is Princess Peach/Princess Toadstool), Daisy is a Nintendo princess nonetheless.
Daisy made her gaming debut in the Nintendo Game Boy game, Super Mario Land. Since then, she has become a key part of the Mario mythology, and is often closely linked to Luigi – which is why she is romantically linked to Luigi in the movie.
As fans of the Super Mario Bros. games will know, Bowser is Mario’s chief villain; yet in the Super Mario Bros. film, it is King Koopa (as played by Dennis Hopper) who is the main adversary. So, what gives?
Well, for those who didn’t grow up playing the original Super Mario Bros. games, Koopa is Bowser. Originally, Bowser went by the name of King Koopa in the games, before he got a name change. This name change occurred after the movie was produced.
Iggy and Spike
Sticking with Koopa for a moment, Super Mario Bros. also includes two villainous side characters called Iggy and Spike, who work closely with Koopa. The characters are played by Fisher Stevens and Richard Edson respectively, and appear in the movie as King Koopa’s cousins.
Are they connected to characters from the games? Yes, sort of.
Introduced in the NES game, Super Mario Bros. 3, Iggy is one of Bowser’s seven children (along with Larry, Morton, Wendy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig). Meanwhile, Spike is a Koopa creature from the same game, who uses spiked balls as a weapon.
Another character who appears in the Super Mario Bros. movie is Mario & Luigi’s friend, Toad. The character is played by actor and musician, Mojo Nixon, who pops up in a fairly small role.
Now, this version of Toad is nothing like the character from the games, but he does provide Mario & Luigi with assistance in the film, as well as some helpful information about the Mushroom Kingdom. So, brief as his part may be, he does help out his pals, similar to the assistance he sometimes provides in the games.
Yet another character who appears in Super Mario Bros. who takes their name from a gaming character is that of Big Bertha – the crimson clad woman who appears twice in the movie. Big Bertha is named after a Cheep Cheep that appears in the Mario games.
When Mario made his debut in the gaming world, via the iconic arcade classic, Donkey Kong, the character was initially given the name, Jumpman. And following on from this appearance, and once he was renamed ‘Mario’, the ability to jump became one of Mario’s signature moves.
This jumping ability is incorporated into the Super Mario Bros. movie on a couple of occasions, with both Mario & Luigi able to leap great heights, thanks to a pair of special boots. These ‘Thwomp’ boots – known more commonly as Stompers in the movie – aid Mario & Luigi in their adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom, and allow them to jump aware from harm.
And if all that wasn’t enough, other gaming references in Super Mario Bros. include Goombas; the use of tunnels which lead to a desert setting and allow for some ice-covered fun; the use of a Bob-omb and Bullet Bill cartridges; and the inclusion of Yoshi and the Mushroom King (played by Lance Henriksen). There is also the brief sight of a store sign for the ‘Hammer Brothers’; and the use of a Super Nintendo Super Scope 6 gun, which is repurposed in the film to become a ‘de-evolution’ weapon.
And in addition to all that, two-thirds of the way through the movie, Mario & Luigi don their iconic red and green overalls; while during the climax, Koopa is (briefly) de-evolved into a dinosaur, bringing his appearance closer in line to that of his computer game character.
While Super Mario Bros. isn’t an accurate adaptation of the Mario games, and it does commit the cardinal sin of causing harm to Yoshi (stabbed) and Toad (Goomba-ed and set alight), the film does incorporate a number of characters, names, and ideas from the games. And if you’ve not watched the film in a while, there’s every chance you had forgotten about some of this, so hopefully this post is a nice little reminder.
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