Up until very recently, Nintendo has been guarded with its wide net of beloved video game franchises. After the total critical failing of the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993, the video game maker has been understandably cautious about sending Legend of Zelda, Metroid, or Donkey Kong to Hollywood, and has kept to what it knows: making awesome video games. Apparently, at some point down the line, Nintendo realized it could make a zillion dollars by cashing in their characters in new media. Not only is a Nintendo theme park coming, but Detective Pikachu and Super Mario Bros. are getting movies. It's the latter that has us especially excited... and a little concerned.
Nintendo's most iconic franchise will be turned into an animated movie by Illumination (Despicable Me, Secret Life of Pets) with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto producing. Detective Pikachu is a fairly low stakes situation, but Super Mario Bros. getting a movie is a big deal. It's a pretty big sign of trust from Nintendo and could very well start a new saga of video-game movies. Trouble is that video games movies are typically terrible but there are steps that Illumination and Nintendo can take to make it so they learn from the mistakes of Mario's first movie. Here's what we want to see in the Super Mario movie.
Keep Illumination In Check
Illumination has obviously found a lot of success, having made some very popular animated movies that have gone on to make a ton at the box office. However, these movies are more often than not just kind of okay, quality-wise. They are making movies targeted primarily at kids, which is totally fine, but to Illumination, that means putting lots of farts jokes, butt cracks, and other low hanging fruit. Super Mario isn't anything like that and is charming as hell, filled with well-designed creatures and incredibly imaginative worlds. I don't want to see Toads become the new Minions. Illumination is pretty good at emotion, though, so Nintendo just needs to reign in the studio's worse impulses.
Don't Make It One Big Reference
The appeal of a Mario movie doesn't really need to be explained, given the importance Hollywood places on recognizable IPs and nostalgia. Movies and TV shows with an emphasis on nostalgia (like, say, Stranger Things) run the risk of not being anything more than the sum of its references. With dozens of games and characters, the Super Mario movie shouldn't get too hung up on callbacks. These callbacks are nice for fans, but all good things come in moderation. If the movie was one reference after the next, it wouldn't be fulfilling. There also needs to be a worthwhile story to get us entertained, and it wouldn't hurt to break some new ground.