[Let's Talk] What would you want out of an animated Mario movie? - Nintendo Everything

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[Let’s Talk] What would you want out of an animated Mario movie?

Posted on November 18, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, Let's Talk

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a new animated Mario movie is on the way. Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind the Despicable Me and Minions films, has been apparently pegged to work on Nintendo’s project. It’s far from an announcement, but The Wall Street Journal tends to be accurate with these kinds of reports.

Just the thought of any new Mario movie may strike fear into the hearts of dedicated Nintendo fans. There was a Super Mario Bros. movie way back in 1996, though many would say that it was downright terrible. If Nintendo is making a new Mario movie, you still have reason to be cautious. However, there would be a couple of things going for it.

First, Shigeru Miyamoto should be on board. The Wall Street Journal said that Miyamoto was pushing for a producer role. The fact that it would be animated also helps big time. Live action doesn’t make much sense for Mario, but animation is much more appropriate.

So let’s just say that this movie is in fact happening. Is there anything in particular you’d like to see from it? What about things you’d like to see Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo avoid? Let us know in the comments below.

Highlights from last week’s topic: What are you playing? – November 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX on the 3DS. I’m about halfway, and it’s been amusing so far.

I’ve been playing Odyssey, the Octopath Traveler (which may make me buy the game) and Bravely Second demos, daily Badge Arcade / FE Heroes / YGO Duel Links / Tales of the Rays / FF Brave Exvius, and debating whether Pokkén will entertain me long-term. I also played Dead Space for the first time on Halloween.


Odyssey, ya see!

Not even Fire Emblem Warriors could keep me from playing Salmon Run on Splatoon 2 literally every time it was live, but Odyssey is now occupying 100% of my Switch time. I went on vacation last Friday and you bet I played Odyssey in handheld mode every day until I got back. An experience like that is only possible on the Switch!

Been having a complete blast exploring each area thoroughly instead of rushing ahead in the story!


Fire Emblem: Warriors. Got me all the special weapon scrolls and am now on the looooooooooooong road to unlock a certain character 😛

Lord Drieg

I wasn’t interested in Odyssey, so I havent bought it yet. It’s something I think I’ll look at buying when it’s on sale. Or maybe if I win it in a giveaway.

So what have I been playing instead?

Been splatting squids, kids, & salmon in Splatoon 2, sure. But WayForward, Tom Happ, & Sumo Digital have stolen my heart, money and time with The Mummy Demastered, Axiom Verge, and Snake Pass respectively.

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  • Mark

    Honestly? All I can hope is that it’ll be funny, witty, and bring in a great amount of self-referential humor, like the Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi series. I’m rather happy with the choice of Illumination Entertainment; while none of their movies have been critically acclaimed, they do have a strong record of bringing box-office hits to the silver screen, and I think that they would be respectful of being able to use the Mario universe, especially as they like to serialize some of their highest grossing movies. If they can put in a story that is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, I think that it could be really good.

    My biggest fear, and I know it’s going to be controversial… I don’t know what they’re going to do about voicework. Charles Martinet *is* Mario, but his voice really only works good for sound clips or sound effects. I’ve watched videos where he’s had a longer speaking role… and I just can’t imagine listening to an hour and a half of Martinet’s high-pitched Italian stereotype voice. I love Mario, but honestly, it would grate after a while.

    • JasonBall

      Great point about the voice. Maybe it’ll be a story told mostly through actions. Have grunts and exclamations and basic words of course. Like the minion characters. From Illumination as well. You can tell exactly what they’re doing and why, all without words.

      • Mark

        Yeah, but what works for Minions wouldn’t exactly work for Mario. First of all, the Minions are *always* portrayed with an English-speaking companion, even in the Minions movie, to give definition and context for what they’re doing. It’s true that there are moments when it’s just Minions alone, but those are usually restricted to visual and slapstick gags.

        Mario *has* to be the hero of a Mario movie; he can’t play second banana to someone else. Furthermore, having Mario non-speaking and other characters speaking slightly dehumanizes him. Plus, what about Bowser? Bowser *has* to speak; he’s got such an interesting personality and is really the life behind the Mario series. But he’s never, NEVER spoken well AND intelligibly.

        Personally, I think that the Mario voice needs to have an evolution. The character of Mario had a graphical evolution between the SNES era and the GameCube era; certain parts of his appearance were refined until an ideal version came about. The same thing has to happen here: the voice needs to evolve. Martinet (if he is able to do it) really does need to retain what makes the voice uniquely Mario… but perhaps lowering the tone and tempo of the normal speaking voice, and diluting the “Italian Stereotype” accent, would make a big difference.

        • JasonBall

          Ooh, that’s very good reasoning there.

          Since the story has to be more derivative than not anyways or else it’ll suck, I wonder if they can actually have like a different original main guy who just has the Mario Bros along with him? Like a guy stuck in a game? With meta jokes a la Wreck it Ralph? I really don’t know if Martinet’s voice can evolve as necessary.

          • Mark

            I could see that working, to a degree… it’s a common trope in film and movies to have a character who the audience can identify with – why Jurassic Park had to have two young kids, for example, in order for the kids to find it interesting.

            Altogether, I think that it just all depends on how iron-fisted Nintendo is with what they’ve established for Mario. He’s a character who is suited perfectly for a video game with little story and no spoken words. What works well for Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi is that they’re still working with text, rather than voice, and they can play off and make fun of the trope of the silent protagonist. If Nintendo keeps too tight of a hold on Mario and doesn’t adapt him to change, it’ll be like watching an hour and a half of Mario Sunshine cutscenes. If they loosen their grip too much and let Illumination run wild, they might get some weird movie that kinda looks like Mario but doesn’t have any of the heart and soul of the games. An intelligent balance is key; making changes where is necessary in order to fit the new medium.

            It kind of reminds me of the process of making movies based on books. Many authors are shocked at how they almost never have any influence over the project. However, that’s almost necessary because a novel -can’t- turn into a movie without making some pretty significant cuts and changes. There’s a huge difference between adapting a book which might take 20-30 hours to read into a movie that takes 2 1/2 hours at most to watch. The reason that almost all video game movies are bad is because of the limitations between one medium and the next; no one’s really figured out how to make a good adaptation. I really hope that Illumination Studios does it right, because a bad movie could really hurt Nintendo. Not as badly as it hurt Squaresoft back in the “Spirits Within” days, but it could give a negative impression of Mario in the public eye that could haunt it for years.

          • JasonBall

            Totally. I’m surprised they’re even considering doing it.

            The Star Fox animation last year was superb, but I attribute that to the fact the game is already cinematic with full voice.

        • MagcargoMan

          “Furthermore, having Mario non-speaking and other characters speaking slightly dehumanizes him”
          That’s literally no different from what the games do though.

          • Mark

            That’s the difference, though, between a movie and a game. With a game, a silent protagonist *works* because the person consuming the media plays as that character. Characters like Mario and Link are free to be silent because they’re a blank canvas; the players project onto them and respond to the other NPCs, either emotionally or through actions on screen.

            For a movie, it doesn’t work so easily: the viewer doesn’t automatically self-identify as the main character. They might eventually self-identify, but the movie has to build a connection between the viewer and the characters first. And while there are some movies that can do a great deal with a character who is limited in speech, the character is usually sub-human for it to work.

            Consider Wall-E, a little robot who’s limited to saying “Wall-E”, “EE-vah”, and random squeals. When it came out, Wall-E was considered brave to start the movie with 20 minutes of silence, and it works. The movie freaking earned that audience empathy by portraying the main character as a quiet, desperately lonely soul, spending eternity alone with an impossible, tedious task that the world clearly didn’t care about anymore. If Wall-E started on the ship in space, with a little junky squealing robot running around all the other characters, he wouldn’t be important anymore. We wouldn’t care about him.

            More importantly, if Wall-E wasn’t a robot but instead a person who didn’t speak, it doesn’t matter how much audience empathy you get: the audience is going to think something is wrong with him. Speech is our primary method of communication as human beings. If a person *doesn’t* speak in our society, it’s assumed that either they’ve taken some sort of oath of silence for personal or spiritual reasons, or have some sort of disorder. For Mario, the first doesn’t match his character (it barely matches Link, and they used that excuse in BOTW) and the second would not be something Nintendo would want associated with their flagship character.

  • jimmy

    Animation and Mario

  • i’d want it to be over

  • JasonBall

    As much involvement from Miyamoto as possible. And a derivative story. Translating a game to a movie doesn’t work well because games rely on choice, and the plot usually just guides the choices. So a movie needs to take some liberties in order to make a plot worth watching.

    And please God no game tie in.

    • MagcargoMan

      “As much involvement from Miyamoto as possible”

      I don’t think a movie with no plot would be very enjoyable.

      • JasonBall

        Haha, nice one.

  • Billy Bob Throrton

    It’s pretty obvious, an all ages adventures set not in an “alice in wonderland” style world but actually recognizes Mario has a signature style all it’s own.
    a natural progression from the more cinematic Odyssey.
    Personally,I would go not for just a brothers dynamic but also,more importantly the bond of beating a Mario game with another person.

  • Paddy Alfan

    Mario and luigi is gay and peach in charge of everything.
    Winderwoman proves that boring movies could turn into critical and commercial gold if you put women empowerment theme.

  • FutureFox

    The Yoshi and Poochie animated shorts were done very well. Not sure is Miyamoto had a hand at those but I think if you take that little bit of charm and carry it over consistently over a film then things could work for the movie.

  • MajoraMan28

    While I would definitely not want Illumination to be responsible for the film, given their track record and the fact that I think Nintendo has the creative force for such a film, I sure want a few things to be in an animated Super Mario film:

    – For the Super Mario film to acknowledge the canon instead of featuring Mario as a game character in a real world (like Wreck-it Ralph)
    – I want it to feel like Mario. This means Mario not talking much at all, leaving it to the secondary characters (classic movies and films with more silent protagonists worked great before, animation being one of the main mediums for them).
    – Adding to the previous point, Super Mario should be something for the FAMILY, NOT for kids only. Mario has its universal appeal but has a degree of epic and seriousness (see the Galaxy games, SM64 and even Odyssey). They should remember that most of the fanbase are not kids anymore and are in their mid-20s to early 30s, and thus, the entertainment should please this audience as well. Think Pixar.
    – I want the Toads to NOT be like Minions, for Hylia’s sake.
    – Honestly, adapt the original SMB. That would be a good starting point.

    Let me just say that I think instead of them, while Nintendo may never had experience with film before, they have experience with certain directing techniques that apply to games AND film, animating cutscenes, etc.
    They know what and how their characters should be portrayed. If they don’t know much about top of the line graphics in animation and need help, I would’ve gone and made a partnership with Square-Enix themselves. They are the leading company in making solid animation, work in the same industry as Nintendo, and live the culture that Mario is inserted in (remember that Mario is Japan’s biggest icon alongside Pikachu and the Ghibli brand).

  • Derek Foreal


  • キロ

    A remake of the live action one just animated.


  • Billy Bob Throrton

    It should be based on the main series (2d and 3d) but use Super Mario RPG,Paper Mario,Luigi’s Mansion and the Yoshi games to flesh out the characters when needed.

  • Auragar

    Something actually good.

  • DemonKingBowser

    I always imagined a Mario CG animated movie in the shape and way of Tom & Jerry style. In Tom & Jerry, the characters’ movement and expressions were in total harmony and sync with the music, which played a key role through the animation. Additionally, the characters almost never talked, and everything they meant to be said (or rather be undesrtood by the public) would be through the music and the body language and expression from the characters.
    I would say that kind of animaton perfectly fits with the Mario world, with Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser and a big etc showing much emotion through music and body language. Mario characters almost never have voice acting, which also adds to the perfect fit to the style.
    I don’t know, that idea has always wandered around in my mind.

  • Tlink7

    Nothing, Mario doesn’t work in films or TV shows

  • Jag Gentlemann

    Another company making it.

  • NONA


  • ben

    What if they made Mario an Origin story.. Start in Brooklyn in 1977. all in animation.
    Donkey Kong then after the fight with DK he falls into the Mushroom Kingdom. Everyone talks to Mario… just makes Mario noises..

    Mario`s moma starts the movie telling Mario he needs to find himself a nice girl…(complete Italian cultural stereo types need to be over cooked to the point of just whakyness … After all this is an American Italian designed by a man who had never left Japan at that time.

    I think the best thing they can do to please the fans is use as many art styles as possible. From 8 bit to Paper Mario and the 3d stuff.

  • Max

    I want Mario to meet Bowser and Peach for the first time in this movie, completely retconning Yoshi’s Island. Mario is born in New Donk City. He is a bit of a local celebrity due to saving Pauline from Donkey Kong. Tired of city life and some unfulfilled romance with a busy Mayor Pauline, he finds a brochure in the mail about the Mushroom Kingdom and sets off for a new life.

  • R.Z.

    I guess I would like the movie to distance itself from the games and be good in its own right.
    I don’t think Mario’s canon universe can translate well to a non-interactive-narration-based medium. I think a faithful adaptation would result in a mediocre feature-length movie at best and would probably hurt the games themselves, setting up narrative expectations that the Mario games have done well to avoid all this time.
    All in all I think what I would most want of such a movie is for it not to exist.

    Maybe the movie could work if they used Mario as a background theme, or if they went in completely unexpected directions, kind of like the Super Mario Bros. movie, only good.
    The best thing in my opinion would be to make it a documentary, but it would be hard to not make it look like a commercial.

  • DeltaPeng

    It may be difficult to really do a full length feature film (especially without much dialogue). Depends on their target audience as well, if it’s for an older crowd I love it when they do intense fighting / character crossovers like Smash Bros (Melee intro, Brawl story, Smash4 reveal trailers).

    But that’s assuming they’re doing animated vs live action.

  • MagcargoMan

    Well for one I don’t want it to be made by Illumination (seriously Nintendo?), don’t know why they would do that. Miyamoto being on board isn’t exactly comforting either given how he’s known for axing story in Mario games.

    But anyway, for what I want are a few things. For one, voice acting. Mario can stay silent/very few words like the norm, but Peach, Toad and Bowser have gotta have fully voiced dialogue. Luigi too. And secondly…

    Actually I really don’t know what I want because I don’t think Mario makes for very good movie material. Just make sure Wario has some sort of role, even if a minor one.