With the new animated Super Mario Bros. movie coming soon from Illumination (and unfortunately starring Chris Pratt), a lot of fans have been talking about the ill-fated 1993 live-action film as of late. One of the key aspects of the film – besides its abject critical and commercial failure – is how different it was from the video games themselves. Rather than being a fun, light fantasy story, it was instead a (relatively) dark, cyberpunk, dystopian story.
However, despite that, there are some pretty fun Easter eggs from the games that the film utilizes, which are often difficult to spot.
11 Wigglers And Other Neon Signs
In the Super Mario Bros. movie, there are a bunch of Easter eggs from the original video game hidden within the many neon signs scattered throughout the dystopian cyberpunk “Dinohattan” city (designed by Blade Runner‘s own production designer, David L. Snyder). This includes the names of characters, enemies, power-ups, such as the Wigglers (as the name of a branded beverage), the boss Boom Boom from SM3 (as the name of a nightclub), and The Hammer Bros. (as a tattoo parlor), and many other references as well.
10 Thwomps Make An Alternative Appearence
While there are no Thwomps in the film as they’re depicted in the game, there are two major references to them. The first is the name “Thwomp Stompers,” which is what those weird futuristic boots (later used in the action movie Face/Off) that Mario and Luigi wear to jump higher are (basically the sci-fi version of a power-up).
There is also a neon sign for a store called “Thwomps” that sells the aforementioned Thwomp Stompers, which is the setting for a quick action scene towards the end of the movie.
9 Bullet Bills Are Much Smaller
In the Super Mario Bros. games, the Bullet Bills were large, black bullets (more like missiles) with faces painted on them that were shot from cannons meant to kill our Italian plumber heroes. In the original games, they were about the size of a small Mario (or Luigi), but in later games – starting with Super Mario World in 1990 – they were actually huge and took up most of the screen.
However, in the movie, not only are they tiny (they can fit into the palm of your hand), but they’re not weapons at all and are instead energy cartridges for the Mario Bros. weird Thwomp Stomper boots. And, as mentioned in the previous two entries, there’s also a neon sign for a bar called “Bullet Bills” seen in the background as well.
8 Fire Flower Guns Are The Ultimate Power-up
In the Super Mario Bros. game, the Fire Flower is a power-up that Mario (or Luigi) can use. They change their blue overalls to white and grant them the power to shoot fireballs from their hands. It’s honestly one of the most effective power-ups in the game.
In the film, the flamethrower weapon – called a “Fireball Gun” – is pretty much a sci-fi/cyberpunk version of the aforementioned Fire Flower from the video game. Not only is the tip of the gun spiraled in a flower-like shape, but the flames shoot out like, well, fireballs, which is much closer to the way the Fire Flowers work than a standard flamethrower.
7 The Koopahari Desert Is Koopa’s Kingdom
The Koopahari Desert was the second world gamers traveled to in Super Mario 3 (also sometimes known simply as “Desert Land”). In it, they battled some of the rarest enemies in the game, such as the Angry Sun and the Fire Brothers (a flame-based variation of The Hammer Brothers).
In the movie, the Koopahari Desert is what makes up most of Koopa’s desolate kingdom (where Dinohattan is the only real functioning civilization on the entire planet). At one point, the Mario Brothers find themselves briefly stuck there, after an explosive car chase evading Koopa’s corrupt police force.
6 Big Bertha Wears Cheep Cheep Red
Cheep Cheeps are those annoying redfish enemies from the first Super Mario Bros. game that jump out of the water, often in swarms, or attack gamers during the even more annoying underwater levels. Big Bertha, meanwhile, was the nickname given to the big Cheep Cheep introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3.
It’s not really clear why that name was given to the character in the film, played by actress Francesca Roberts, since she’s not a fish at all. But she is wearing all red, which is the same color as her video game counterpart at least.
5 Mario Kart Appears With A Car Chase
Mario Kart, the classic Mario Bros. racing game, came out for the Super Nintendo a year before the Super Mario Bros. movie was released in 1993. And in the middle of the film, there’s an extended, explosive car chase. There’s even a scene where the police use “power-ups” by shooting fireballs at the escaping Mario and Luigi (the police accidentally blow themselves up instead). Now, while the movie had been long in development before 1992, there have also been numerous stories about constant script rewrites on set all throughout the troubled production. Furthermore, the cars in Dinohattan seem to run on electric wires – like bumper cars at an amusement park – which is also where you’d find people go-karting.
4 The King Is Transformed Into A Fungus
In Super Mario Bros. 3, King Koopa uses magic to turn all the kings from the various lands in the Mushroom World (such as the previously mentioned Desert Land) into things like bugs, animals, and plants. It then becomes Mario’s (or Luigi’s) mission to transform those kings back to their original human forms.
So, the fact that the king in the Super Mario Bros. movie is transformed into a fungus (similar to the Pipe Land King from SM3 turning into a plant), and has to be transformed back into human form by the end of the film draws heavily from SM3‘s storyline.
3 Characters Go Down Pipes
Traveling through pipes is probably the most iconic Super Mario Bros. thing ever. In fact, it even predates Super Mario Bros. and was a main feature in the Mario Bros. arcade game from 1983. So, it makes sense that it would appear in the Super Mario Bros. movie in some capacity.
In the film, Mario rescues a group of missing Brooklyn women (who were mistaken by King Koopa’s henchmen for Princess Daisy) and uses a mattress as a bobsled to ride down a large air conditioning pipe, pursued by Goombas and Koopa Troopers. However, the most notable thing about the scene is how the entire sequence is scored to the song “Breakpoint” by famed metal band Megadeth.
2 Tower Walls With Castle Designs
One of the most criticized aspects of the Super Mario Bros. movie is that the art direction is cyberpunk-inspired rather than the more Medieval/fantasy aesthetic of the original games (especially during the Bowser castle levels). This includes King Koopa’s lair in the film, which is a skyscraper based on the Twin Towers (since King Koopa is more of an evil businessman, viz. Donald Trump, as opposed to an evil lizard king like in the games).
However, there are still glimmers of the games’ level design seen in the tower, especially the spikey blocks that align the building’s hallways, which are similar to the blocks in Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s not much, but it’s something at least!
1 Shy Guys Make An Appearance As Garbage Men
The Shy Guys were first introduced to the Super Mario Bros. mythos in Super Mario Bros. 2 (which, in America, was actually a reskin of the Arabian Nights-themed game Doki Doki Panic, since Japanese developers felt American gamers couldn’t handle the harder levels of the official SM2). But, nevertheless, afterward, the Shy Guys began to appear in subsequent Mario games, such as the main antagonists in Yoshi’s Island and drivers in Mario Kart 7 and 8.
Towards the end of the Super Mario Bros. film, we see the Shy Guys portrayed as garbage men in a giant landfill, who Mario and Luigi quickly subdue and steal the masks of to sneak into Koopa’s tower. At least the heroes didn’t throw a giant turnip at them.
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