The Sonic the Hedgehog movie was, without a doubt, one of the biggest surprises of this year just because of how massive it was. It had a rough start given that first trailer (more on that later), but overall, both adults and children alike were impressed with Sonic, which was based on the popular video game character of the same name. So with word of a new Super Mario Bros. movie slated for a 2022 release from the Illumination animation studio, there are quite a few pointers that the mustachioed plumber could learn from the blue blur.
In case you didn’t know, this won’t be Mario and Luigi’s first outing to the big screen. In fact, the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie was the very first video game adaptation to ever be brought to theaters. Unfortunately, most fans (myself included) will tell you that it was a big heaping of dino dung. That’s why I think there’s a great deal that this new animated movie (thank God it’s not live-action again) could learn from Sonic the Hedgehog. We already covered 9 things we need to see in this new film, but here are five things that I think Mario can learn from his former rival when it comes to the cinematic treatment. Here we go!
Make Bowser The Main Antagonist
You ask any fan of Mario—any fan at all—and they’ll tell you without hesitation that Bowser is Mario’s main antagonist. So why did the original Super Mario Bros. movie make King Koopa the main bad guy? And yes, before you jump down my throat, I know, King Koopa was Bowser’s original name in the first Super Mario Bros. video game. But that movie came out in 1993! This was well after Super Mario Bros. 3 and even Super Mario World, where the name and likeness of Bowser was already established as a giant, reptilian creature with a spiky shell. Instead, the studio cast Dennis Hopper, and they had him saying lines like “Monkey!”
One of the only things that the Sonic the Hedgehog got right almost immediately was making Dr. Robotnik the main bad guy, and casting Jim Carrey as him was just the icing on the cake. So yes, this new Mario movie must make the bad guy Bowser, and he should look almost identical to what the fans are used to, especially since this film is animated.
Reference The Games, But Don’t Strictly Adhere To Their Logic
Another aspect that made Sonic the Hedgehog successful was that it was a Sonic story, but it wasn’t beholden to the logic of the games. Yes, rings are a key component in the games, and rings were prominent in the Sonic movie. But it’s not like Sonic is running through rings for health in the movie, and when Dr. Robotnik hits him, rings just come flying out of his body.
That’s a cue that the Super Mario Bros. movie needs to take from Sonic. Of course we don’t want it to get super abstract like the first Super Mario Bros. movie. Nevertheless, this new movie doesn’t have to follow all of the video game’s logic, like collecting floating coins or punching blocks. Make references to all that stuff, but don’t make it a prominent part of the story.
Don’t Stick To Any Specific Game In The Series
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a lot of people’s favorite Sonic game. If this were a comic book franchise, writers would have likely pulled from this game for the movie's source material. But Sonic is not a comic book franchise (well, I mean, it is, but... you know what I mean), and the movie doesn’t really pull from any specific Sonic game. Instead, it’s a story featuring Sonic that is wholly different from the games. Sonic is just kind of in it.
That’s what the Mario movie should do. Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 are completely different games, but all very popular. So to prevent turning off any fans who might feel slighted when elements of their favorite Mario game isn’t in the movie, just make this a Mario film in general rather than pulling from any specific game in the series. It’s the smartest decision.
Save Yoshi For The Post-Credits Scene
The world of Sonic the Hedgehog has a lot of characters, and there are many that I would love to see in the inevitable sequel. But one really smart move that the first Sonic movie made was having Tails in a post-credit scene rather than featuring him in the plot. Having Tails in the actual movie would have just been too much to explain. Like, is he an alien, too? And if so, where did he come from?
Super Mario Bros. should do the same with Yoshi. He’s one of the most popular characters in the franchise, but introducing him in the movie could be a mistake unless handled correctly. But having him at the end would be a lot more exciting since it would open up a lot of possibilities, just like the next Sonic movie.
Release A Good First Trailer
Lastly, this is one of the biggest bungles of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and the people behind Super Mario Bros. can actually learn a lesson from it. When they finally show what Mario and Luigi look like, make sure they resemble something fans of the characters are actually familiar with. That first image of Sonic was a nightmare, and fans immediately took to social media decrying how horrible he looked. In fact, it caused the studio to go back and fix Sonic's look. Since the Mario movie is animated, Illumination would be smart to get this right the first time around.
There are some who theorize that Paramount intentionally made Sonic look hideous so that it would get people talking about the movie, but that’s ludicrous given how much crunch time and money it took to “fix” Sonic. So don’t make the same mistake that Paramount made when coming out with that first Sonic trailer. Make a trailer that will appeal to fans and non-fans alike so that there doesn’t have to be some kind of course correct which pushes the movie back several months. Yes, the change probably helped the Sonic the Hedgehog in the long run, but lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. Make that first trailer count!
And those are all the things I think Super Mario Bros. could learn from the Sonic film. But what are your thoughts? Are there any things you think Mario could learn from his former rival? Sound off in the comments.
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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