Four Nintendo Worlds That Could Make Good Movies

Let’s pretend the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie never happened.

Ever since the early 90s, Nintendo has been understandably weary of Hollywood adaptations of their films. Back in the early 2000s, John Woo was set to make a Metroid adaptation… but Nintendo made the development process a living hell for the filmmakers and the film never came together. The superb Wreck-It Ralph allowed some Nintendo properties to hit the big screen as background characters… which turned out rather well.

Now, it seems, Nintendo is more interested in branching out its intellectual properties into films. In an interview with Fortune, Shigeru Miyamoto said they’re focusing on other entertainment mediums, “As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo’s role as an entertainment company, we’re starting to think more and more about how movies can fit in with that – and we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future.”

While that’s great news… how could it be done in a way that avoids making films that are disliked by critics and fans alike? Well, we’re breaking down ways to approach some of Nintendo’s most beloved properties in ways we think will please everyone, from the most hardcore Nintendo nerds to the casual moviegoer.

Zelda

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The most obvious movie ready property Nintendo has at its disposal is The Legend of Zelda. It’s every Jospeh Campbell-esque hero’s journey wrapped into one game series, which when combined with some fantastic gameplay and art direction made for a very popular series.

The key to getting Zelda right is to tap into the same “hero with a thousand faces” narrative that the original Star Wars did so well without making it feel cliché. If you adhere too closely, the movie doesn’t feel unique. Stray too far and it’s not Zelda anymore.

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A razor focused narrative needs to be employed, which means strong character relationships and a very clear goal. Ocarina of Time has a wonderfully clear narrative full of some clever twists to work off of, while Twilight Princess has the strongest character relationship in the form of your companion Midna. Our advice is to keep it the story simple, don’t take the job too seriously (just seriously enough), and make something recognizable without falling prey to the troupes of the genre.

Metroid

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Metroid was originally inspired by Alien, so we can think of no better movie to draw inspiration from than the 1979 classic. The key with Metroid is to preserve the feeling of isolation, dwindling resources, and the fear that comes from looking into the face of the unknown. Filmmakers can’t fall prey to the temptation for making an action film more like Aliens, as that would betray what makes Metroid special.

Samus doesn’t necessarily need to be alone, but keep her more as the Boba Fett figure we first met. If Metroid Other M taught us anything, it’s that learning too much about a character can destroy what made them work in the first place. She’s the Man With No Name. Surround her with a team of people getting picked off one by one, but never have her take off the mask.

Super Mario Bros.

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This is a tricky one… as let’s face it: the premise is utterly ridiculous.

It’s about a plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom who’s repeatedly tasked with saving the land’s Princess (named Peach) from being kidnapped by a lizard king named Bowser for reasons unknown.

I think we can all agree this one needs to be animated.

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In fact, there’s totally a way to make this movie a hit: make it in the same style as The Lego Movie. That film had the impossible task of making a narrative based on nothing but building blocks, but a healthy tongue in cheek wit combined with a healthy dose of blockbuster movie parody made it one of the best films in years. Let’s do the same thing with Mario.

Embrace the craziness and have fun. There’s really no other way to make it work.

Unless we want to make a Soviet propaganda film. We’d be all for that.

Star Fox

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Star Fox is a story about an enormously talented yet cocky pilot, a wingman who gives him guff, and a superior officer who’s constantly comparing him to his famous father.

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Seriously, just remake Top Gun.

We mean, animated of course. Anything else with anthropomorphic animals is creepy.

So, yeah. Make it animated and remake Top Gun. Boom.

3 Comments

  1. You’re right on just about everyone in the list except Zelda. Although a Zelda movie is ideal, defining Link’s character/personality and the set storyline and surrounding characters would be tough. Where would the storyline be set? Ocarina of Time? Link to the Past? Twilight Princess? How is Link going to sound when he talks and how is his personality going to be like? Who are going to be the other supporting characters aside from Zelda, and the Kokiri(if we assume it’ll take place in Ocarina of Time timeline)? The thing about movies is that since its a passive, linear experience you’re going to have to give much more depth/backstory to the characters and story in the Zelda movie than you would it its interactive games. The Zelda series isn’t known for story-telling but rather puzzle-solving, and ultimately free-roaming sandbox experience. Yes its possible to have a good script writer behind the Zelda adaption and yes its possible to make it work but to what end? Link as a character is defined by the player. Portraying him in any way outside of his heroism might anger Zelda fans, which are very vocal about the series. But just making him defined by “heroism” would also bore the non-Zelda/video game fans quick. So its a tough thing to do.

  2. I feel like I’m the only one who remembers those fun cinematic cutscenes in Super Mario Galaxy. If it was well directed and stayed true to the canonized Mario Universe, an animated Mario film could turn out great. It annoys me that people dismiss the possibility of a Mario movie that actually works, just because two idiot directors decided to assassinate a decent film project 20 years ago.

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