We knew it but now it’s official: Super Mario Bros. The Movie it’s a commercial triumph across the board. At a cost of $100 million (excluding marketing costs), the Illumination Entertainment film adaptation of the beloved gaming icon Nintendo has currently grossed 716 million dollars worldwide, a figure reached in just two weeks of programming. The billion mark is an attainable and passable mark despite the uncertainty of the percentage of the inevitable drop in the box office this weekend, and this obviously paves the way for an active expansion of the franchise on the big screen, certainly with a sequel that could also see Wario voiced by Pedro Pascal and who knows what other exploitative ideas. Net of the widespread criticism of the narrative aspect of the transposition, considered more or less superficial and not very elaborate by the press, the film in fact respects the production policy of the studio of despicable Me e Petsproving to be an excellent title for families with a children’s target but capable of winking at adults and fans of the first hour with an unstoppable avalanche of fan service and easter egg.
This is in summary the basis of its success (without obviously forgetting an incredible colorful and effective animated sector), but it is above all with the service to the fans that Nintendo and Illumination enjoyed filling entire scenes of the feature film between explicit, implicit or hidden references . We have tried to identify them all, from the most obvious and eye-catching to the more difficult and subtle ones. Excluding those blatant and obvious such as power up or locations – including direct rearrangements of music – we report them to you in the story a little further down, asking you too to participate in the challenge and report any omissions or curiosities. After all, this is also (video)playing, don’t you think?
Necessarily having to create an incipit unrelated to the Mushroom Kingdom, screenwriters and directors have decided to insert many references to Nintendo glories into the “real” world of Mario and Luigi. We can start with the commercial of the plumbing company of the protagonists, which already hides several. First of all the logo we see on the van is the same as New Super Mario Bros. Wii of 2009, considered the best for “work” purposes, evidently. Then there’s the woman in the commercial who calls out to our heroes to battle a nasty sink leak. The girl in question is dubbed in the original by Jeannie Eliasformerly the voice of Princess Peach Toadstool in the legendary animated series Super Mario Bros. Super Show of 1989.
At the end of the commercial we then see Mario and Luigi standing out like superheroes over the city, complete with yellow capes tied around their necks to simulate capes. Precisely those yellow capes directly recall the capes of the same color that the two wore in the first and legendary one Super Mario World from 1990 and which in the gameplay also allowed him to fly. The number and website of the Super Mario Plumbing they also really exist: if you want to take a tour of the site you can click here, while a specially designed bot such as inside joke for the viral promotion of the film.
Super Mario Bros. The Movie, the review: an adaptation in the service of the Nintendo icon
We then leave the spot and enter the Pizzeria Punch Out, which is a clear easter egg referring to the famous Nintendo sports franchise about the world of boxing. Inside the venue there are also framed shots that immortalize various protagonists of the video game, even if a duck-shaped wooden trophy appears in a corner, to be precise that of the memorable Duck Hunt from 1984 (which also gives its name to a restaurant in a later scene), also part of the Nintendo catalog. Meanwhile, the superimposed headlines on the news announce the re-election of the mayor Paulinenothing but the first “damsel in distress” saved by Mario at the beginning of his career and returned in political guise in Super Mario Odyssey to rule the city of New Donk City, the same where the film is set on the model of New York City. We then see it directly on the screen in a later scene.
In the pizzeria Mario and Luigi are arguing with their ex-employer Spikehead of the carpentry company Wrecking Crew, title of a videogame from the Mario series for the NES from 1985, where a certain Spike appeared as the boss of the company (and with the same absurd sunglasses). Also in the pizzeria there is a man, Giuseppe, who is playing an arcade cabinet game entitled Jumpman. To lend his unmistakable voice to Giuseppe is none other than Charles Martinetofficial Super Mario voice actor from 1992 to today, while Jumpman was the name by which Mario was known right at the beginning in Donkey Kong of 1981. Still in the club, when Luigi’s smartphone rings (with the call icon that mentions a classic Mii) you can hear the unmistakable ringtone of your device opening theme of the Nintendo Gamecube, one of the extraordinary consoles of the Japanese company.
In the city
Then Mario and Luigi dash out of the Pizzeria to answer an emergency call, they get into the van but it doesn’t start. However, we can focus on the travel agency Sunshine Travelwhere Sunshine is spelled identically to the logo of Super Mario Sunshine of 2002, where Mario and company happened to fly on holiday to Isola Delfino, the same animal that also appears on the agency’s sign. Once they get out of the vehicle, the two travel a route fraught with obstacles that explicitly show and mime level 1 of Super Mario Bros. in a 2-D view, complete with a final jump on the flag, triumphal descent and castle behind them (although is a fast food chain known as Castle Burger). And right on the corner of the street, as soon as you come out of Punch Out, you also notice the silhouette of Mr. Game and Watch on a van parked there. Once at the house of the couple who had called them we then notice a glass statue dedicated to Pikmin, some stained glass with a theme similar to that of a level of Super Mario Bros. 3 and a magazine called Galaxy with a planet on the cover, a clear reference to Super Mario Galaxy.
Back at their home (full of references: trofie from Mario Kart, mushroom-shaped coat hangers, small ornaments of sheep with sombreros taken from Odyssey), the two plumbers have dinner with their family (their surname is Mario, for whom didn’t know it), and dubbing both in the original version and in Italian Papà Mario we find once again the one and only Martinet. In the bedroom, Mario then plays a Kid Icarus at the NES and the posters behind it show classic sports Nintendo games also for the NES but also the original F-Zero and Ice Climber. Also included is a Star-Fox R-Wing model and a tennis racket taken directly from Mario Tennis. When they then break through the sewer wall in the city (among other things mentioned as level 1-2, exactly like the first sewers in Super Mario Bros), the hole they create has the characteristic shape of the head of Mario in 8-bit.
Super Mario Bros. The Movie seen by those who have never had Nintendo
The Mushroom Kingdom
Once catapulted into the fantastic, let’s start immediately with the pins on the backpack of what it should be Captain Toad. The three memorabilia show Peach’s castle, the inverted pyramid in the desert and a tyrannosaurus-rex, all well-known levels of Odyssey, which remains the most cited title of the saga because it is the chapter best known by the new generations. Toad Townat the foot of the Castle, should be modeled on mixed architecture between the Toad Town of Paper Mario and the tall, rolling hills seen in many games in the series. The fruit sold on street corners is that of Sunshine, the Candy Shop recalls Odyssey’s shop once again and the antique shop has an “open” sign that mentions the Super Mario Bros title logo directly in the font, not to mention the Super Mario World dragon coins or treasure chests of Super Mario Bros. 3 for sale in the shop.
Then there are Toad Carpenters everywhere taken from Super Mario Maker and the Mushroom Kingdom map is styled after the one from Super Mario World. Once at the castle, the toad guards tell Mario that “the princess is in another castle”, which is a quote from the iconic phrase at the end of Super Mario Bros levels, while the interior is the same as Odyssey’s castle did except for the stained glass window with the figure of Peach which instead recalls that of super mario 64.
We repeat: we will not talk about the presence of power ups such as fire flowers, mushrooms, leaves or flying hats, of settings such as red desert, smack fish bridge or the island of Yoshis. They are visible and revealed specifically to be immediately recognizable, and we are sure that you will have noticed them all. Furthermore, we would unnecessarily lengthen the speech rather than fill it with real gems, such as the fact that without a hat Mario becomes emotionally vulnerable in the impossibility of physically making it so due to a physiological imposition of the narrative. We can mention the marked bowser piano Ludwing from Troopahwhich in addition to playing with Beethoven also refers to the name of one of the seven “sons” – now no longer canonical – of Bowser, the oldest and most intelligent of all.
Let’s also see Kamek vestito da Peach for his master’s wedding rehearsal, and the reference is actually directed to a scene from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where he appears disguised as the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom and in a cage. Perhaps the most missing detail of the race on the rainbow track among all the objects that are used and the references to the various karts is certainly that relating to the drifts. Mario Kart is in fact entirely structured on this racing tactic, and also in the film we see Mario drifting and keeping the drift until the sparks of the tires turn from blue to pink, exactly as happens in the video game, so as to have more acceleration when exiting and overcoming the opponents. In addition to seeing Bowser with Odyssey’s white dress and Peach with the bouquet of piranha flowers in hand, at their forced wedding we see the legendary guests among the guests King Boo e Re Bob-ombaprobably as representatives of the various kingdoms they ruled.
Once we return to the real world in the final battle, we still see new and missable easter eggs. The first is the one referring to the video game Balloon Fight for NES and always branded Nintendo, which is mentioned with the giant illustration of the mascot of a car wash. And finally there is a shop called Disk Now whose mascot in the sign recalls that of Famicon. If they are not all, we are close, but we have not been able to do better without sifting through the net and rewatching the film just a couple of times. If you have to add, now is the time to do it. It’s up to you. Let’s go!