The Super Mario Movie was one of the runaway successes at the box office this year. Grossing over $1 billion at the time of writing, the collaborative project between Nintendo and Illumination has taken the theaters by storm and charmed its way into the collective consciousness of every viewer.
The movie itself, though quite simple in premise, was a fun, lighthearted adventure that captures the spirit of Mario for both longtime fans and people who know Mario only by name. The movie’s stellar cast also breathed fresh new life into the characters, despite reservations prior to the movie’s release. Jack Black’s Bowser is one hell of a highlight.
It would be foolish to not capitalize on the Super Mario Movie’s immense success and Mario’s creator Shigeru Miaymoto recognizes this, teasing a potential silver-screen future for some of Nintendo’s biggest brands. Obviously, nothing concrete has been stated, but the door has been left wide open after Mario’s entrance.
What movie should Nintendo make next?
Another of Nintendo’s most immediately recognizable mascots, Kirby would be a darling for the silver screen. The colorful and bouncy aesthetic of the Kirby games would lend themselves well to the movie medium and seem right within Illumination’s wheelhouse of animation, complete with annoyingly cute marketable mascots to boot.It would make for a cute, light-hearted romp across Dreamland that the whole family can enjoy.
The games themselves have a well-spring of ideas to draw from to craft a story perfect for a movie. Ideas can be lifted from The Amazing Mirror, Nightmare in Dreamland, The Forgotten Land, and even Epic Yarn to give movie goers an homage-laced experience in the same vein as The Super Mario Movie did.
Also, if the producers want to be a little devious, the potential Kirby movie could throw in the macabre, eldritch monsters Kirby faces off against, many who clash severely with Kirby’s usual cutesy appearance. It would show viewers a taste of some of the adversaries Kirby faces off against on a daily basis and how this cute, tiny pink puffball can rise above some of the most intimidating foes the galaxy has to offer. It would put some respect on the Kirby name and teach a lesson at the same time. What more could you ask for?
4. Luigi’s Mansion
One of the biggest complaints the Super Mario Movie had was the lack of Luigi. Without delving too much into spoiler territory (as all of this was already spoiled via trailers), Mario and Luigi get split up upon arriving in the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario embarks on his hero’s journey while Luigi is relegated to mostly cutaways to keep the movie’s pace. Luigi does get some more screen time towards the end of the movie but it only left viewers hungry for more of Mario’s cowardly brother.
That is why a movie with a bigger emphasis on Luigi would make for a fun experience and what better way to do that than giving Luigi his titular mansion?
The brief Luigi-centric sequences in the Mario movie definitely lifted inspiration from the Luigi’s Mansion games, complete with notes of isolation, dreariness, and just enough horror to keep your attention. Obviously, as a children’s movie can’t delve TOO deeply into the scares but skirting the lines and toying with the viewer would definitely uphold the Luigi’s Mansions atmosphere and give some much needed attention to Luigi Mario. Also, more Charlie Day Luigi is NEVER a bad thing.
Perhaps one of Nintendo’s most ignored franchises, F-Zero has seen better days. The high octane and death-defying racing of F-Zero truly was one of a kind in a gaming landscape littered with realistic sims and zany kart racing. The stylish, breakneck pace of F-Zero would make for a perfect, albeit niche drama on a movie screen. It would also revitalize some much needed attention to this neglected franchise.
It would not be the first time F-Zero got a media adaptation outside of games. F-Zero is one of the rare Nintendo IPs that received an animated series back in the early 2000s. However, anime was rather niche in the West at the time and F-Zero even more so. It was pretty much doomed to flop in western markets.
Even now, that risk persists. Captain Falcon, the flagship character of the franchise, is recognized more as that Super Smash character than the pilot of the No. 7 Blue Falcon. When people say Big Blue or Mute City, is it more likely people see those courses as Mario Kart tracks than the fields of death-defying racing they were in their home games.
Still, if there is some chance of an F-Zero revival happening in the future, a movie would be the perfect way to advertise a return to the breakneck Grand Prix.
2. The Legend of Zelda
A Zelda movie almost sounds sacreligious. At least, it would have prior to Breath of the Wild giving the denizens of Hyrule voiced speaking roles. Fans have wondered what a Zelda movie would look like given the rich history and lore that comes with the territory. Incredibly creative content creators have taken the matter into their own hands, crafting together wonderful animations and what-if’s that could happen in the world of Hyrule.
However, one rule has been kept universal in all these projects, which the games have also upheld after all this time: Link is a silent protagonist.
To many fans, giving Link a speaking role would feel like a cardinal sin (and we don’t talk about the cartoon series or the forbidden CD-i games). Link is the “link” between the player and the character, and giving Link a voice of his own might sever this connection. He has always been the vessel of player agency and his lack of voice is what gives the player personal presence in Link’s characterization.
However, I do not think giving Link a speaking role would be as catastrophic as many fans tout. Since Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has been moving away from allowing players to name Link. In fact, Breath of the Wild outright denies players the ability to do so. BOTW Link, despite being a blank slate due to his amnesia and inner turmoil, feels like a character of his own due to dialogue choices and flashbacks, not just a vessel for the player’s will. The diary entries of characters and champions also allude to the kind of person Link is pre-Calamity, which cannot be affected by player input.
This characterization is also technically nothing new. The jump to the Gamecube era allowed Link to be expressive in ways his prior brethren could only dream of. Toon Link from Wind Waker is wonderfully sassy. Twilight Princess Link balances the light and dark between his brooding and smiling. Skyward Link is optimistically heroic.
As a compromise, movie Link could take notes from his compatriots and utilize body language, facial expressions, and actions to characterize who he is, using the Doom Guy method of characterization while also giving him subdued speaking roles to pronounce those moments where he actually speaks.
The only issue would be the story. The Legend of Zelda has many games to pull story threads from. However, Zelda fans will get disappointed when their movie adaptation inevitably has to cut corners to protect pacing and runtime. A Zelda movie would also be a lot harder to jump into than the Super Mario Movie was, unless precious screen time is dedicated to exposition about the world of Hyrule and lore.
Regardless, a Zelda movie would be incredibly cool and I would love nothing more than to see the worlds of my childhood brought to life on a movie screen. However, I do recognize the hurdles writers and producers will need to overcome to make that a possibility.
A Metroid movie would be a dilemma. On one hand, Samus’ adventures are a lot more intense than the likes of Mario and Zelda. It would be a hard movie to market to children and making a potential movie anything less would be a disservice to fans of the series.
The Metroid Prime games were a stark departure from the 2D games, breathing life into some of the space horrors Samus faces in a way my childhood self was not prepared for. I still get flashbacks to the Prime game over screen, complete with Samus’ shattered visor and her heartbeat flatlining. It contrasted so much from other Nintendo game overs, where players are encouraged to give the level another go with some goofy music playing in the background. Metroid Prime ditched all that and blasted in your face that Samus just died in terrible fashion and it was your fault.
Metroid Dread also proved that the games did not need to be 3D to maintain a level of abject terror. The cold, calculating machine E.M.M.I., impervious to Samus’ abilities, can fill players with the same level of dread the same way a horror game can. Metroid Dread truly lives up to its name. It’s horror adjacent.
That’s some tough stuff for a kid to deal with, doubly so if projected onto a movie screen. That’s what Metroid brings to the table. It’s the risk Nintendo would be taking on if a Metroid move is greenlit. It would alienate a good chunk of a younger audience from watching it with their family, something the Mario movie managed to easily circumvent.
However, on the other hand, a higher-rated, mature Nintendo-supervised movie would prove that Nintendo is not afraid to show the darker, mature games to a wider audience, making a statement that the Nintendo movie machine is willing to market to both children and adults. It would open the floodgates on the sort of movies and stories Nintendo would be capable of telling in the medium of cinema, showing that video game movies are not just cheap filler adaptations destined for merchandising.
With the Mario movie, the ball is now in Nintendo’s court. We can’t wait to see what it can cook up next.
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