Inspiration Behind the Mario Movie


Illumination Pictures

Super Mario Bros. Movie Poster

Every movie has a plan behind it from the universe of Marvel to Jurassic Park, the inspiration behind movies is why they turn out amazing. Speaking of movies, the new Mario movie has just come out starring Chris Pratt (Mario), Seth Rogan (Donkey Kong), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach), Jack Black (Bowser), and Charlie Day (Luigi). Some people think the inspiration behind this movie was just a video game series but was it all based off video games or was there more behind this cinematic movie?  

The Super Mario Bros. film is centered around two Italian-America brothers Mario and Luigi, who have recently started a plumbing business. After seeing a significant water main leak on the news, the two brothers go underground to fix it but end up getting sucked into a Warp Pipe (a method of transportation in the Super Mario universe.) Mario emerges from the Warp Pipe landing in the Mushroom Kingdom, ruled by Princess Peach. With help from Princess Peach, Mario must get ready to square off against the all-powerful Bowser to stop his plans from conquering the world and save Luigi from King Bowser.  

Mario and Princess Peach in the Mushroom Palace. (Illumination Pictures)

The decision to create a Mario film was heavily debated as the 2023 animated film is not the first Mario movie to be made. In 1993, there was a critical commercial failure of a live-action film Super Mario Bros. Because of the film’s failure, Nintendo was hesitant to release the rights to another Mario film. Through Nintendo’s work with Universal Parks to create a Super Nintendo World, it wasn’t hard for Nintendo and Illumination to reach an agreement with Universal producing the film. The Super Mario Bros. Film has been a massive success, grossing over $1.218 billion worldwide.  

Before getting to the movie, knowing the inspiration of the games will allow a better understanding of the adaptation of these games to the movie and every franchise created for Mario. The creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto is a legend for creating many of the popular arcade games like “Donkey Kong.” Shigeru got his inspiration for Mario after creating the game Donkey Kong where a protagonist Mario is trying to save his girlfriend from a giant ape who is Mario’s pet, that is when the inspiration hit him to change his profession into creating a “Mario Bros” franchise.

Nintendo Released Donkey Kong the game to replace their other game Radar Scope, Mario was originally named Jump man because of the fact he jumped over objects, to continue Nintendo decided that “Jumpman” needed a better name which is where Mario was decided because he resembled a property’s landlord Mario Segale. Donkey Kong ended up becoming one of the most famous games in America, which made Nintendo continue to create Mario themed games.  

Super Mario Bros. King Bowser and magikoopa
(Illumination Pictures)

The whole movie is based off the franchise there are a lot of hidden references to the games inside the movie. Creating the Mario movie was a passion project for many of the actors and animators, ensuring that they add extra care, love, and details into the film. 

One of the most famous courses in the Mario games is Rainbow Road. This road is part of Mario Cart and is one of the many roads Mario and other characters race on not only in the movie but in the game world as well. At the start of the Mario Movie a man can be seen playing an arcade game, this is game that was shown was the first Donkey Kong game that ever-featured Mario in it. There are so many more surprises that the movie gives, a lot of it can lead to spoilers to the ending of the movie, but a lot of the features are referenced to the Mario games and indicate to a lot of other games that Nintendo created.

Super Mario Bros. Rainbow Road race. (Illumination Pictures)

For example, the arcade game Duck Hunt created by Nintendo showed up as a restaurant called chasse au canard’ which is French for duck hunting they also use an image from the game to highlight this French restaurant. This shows just how much thought was put into the movie’s design and how much the creators wanted to add to the cinematic universe by bringing a video game character to life on the big screen.  

To conclude, the Mario movie has a lot for it, the comedy and cast complement each other so well. The time and effort to really animate and bring characters to life on screen that people have only seen in arcade games from Nintendo. It is very intriguing to learn about the wonders that this movie holds and all the connections that it brings, from the way it connects to the original Mario games, but to the other references to other masterpieces that Nintendo has created.