Adored by the Network: Really? The top-selling video game series starring Nintendo's mascot is also the one most beloved and heavily marketed by the company?
Cash Cow Franchise: Mario is the best-selling video game franchise of all time, by a MASSIVE margin. Pokémon, which is in second place, only has half the sales (though it is close to beating the main series in sales).
Mario's (and Luigi's) character design is one, as the mustache and overalls were only designed by Shigeru Miyamoto as a greater contrast for players due to the 8-bit graphical limitations of Donkey Kong.
Right in Yoshi's character design this whole time. According to Takashi Tezuka in "Super Mario History 1985-2010" (which was bundled with Super Mario All-StarsLimited Edition), the reason Yoshis have saddles in the first place is because it's a visual leftover from the time in development they were meant to be a type of Koopa, originally making it their shells. As a result, their saddles have been stated to be shells on occasion.
Fandom Life Cycle: Stage 5, because the Mario series is basically the most well known, popular video game series in history. Especially true of the 'Mario Mania' years, wherein American children knew Mario better than Mickey Mouse.
Surprisingly enough, the exact relationship between Mario and Peach. Given that in most games, the whole point is to rescue Peach from Bowser. Some games all but outright state that they're an Official Couple while others only have them as Implied Love Interests. Other characters like Luigi and Daisy also muddy the situation.
Sources aren't really sure if Wario and Waluigi are brothers or not. They also aren't sure if Toad and Toadette are siblings, love interests, or entirely unrelated.
Is Yoshi a dinosaur or a dragon? Most sources state dinosaur, but at least one instance (the Japanese "Nintendo Kids Space" official site) has denied it.
Do Mario and Luigi have last names? Over time the official word has flipped between "no, they don't", "Yes, but it's unstated", and "yes, and it is 'Mario'".
The Koopalings' relation to Bowser. From their introduction in Super Mario Bros. 3 to as late as Super Smash Bros. Melee, they were explicitly stated to be Bowser's own children. Then in 2012 Shigeru Miyamoto went on record saying Nintendo's "current story" is that they're unrelated to Bowser; however, they're still high-ranking members of Bowser's army whom he treats as such. Then in 2014, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U shifted the relationship again from a definite "No!" to an ambiguous "Maybe" with some of them being labeled as Koopa royalty and their relationship to Bowser being described as "unknown". Despite a phase in which Nintendo also had a direct hand in historical revisionalism, it has been relented and accepted that the Koopalings are still at least referred to as Bowser's children in re-releases of older material.
Is Rosalina a queen or a goddess? What we only know that she is the "Mama" of the Lumas, with her clothing designs related to royalty, but her Long-Lived lifespan suggests agelessness. She's been stated to be a princess in the official guides of Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel as well as online material for Mario Kart 8, but unlike Peach and Daisy, she's almost never referred to as Princess Rosalina.
Franchise Zombie: Some of the subseries are considered this, churning out regular sequels of generally diminishing quality and originality with no involvement from the creative teams that worked on their earliest installments. The Mario Party and Mario Tennis spinoffs are two of the more notable examples.
Nintendo never retconned anything about Mario being a plumber in 2017, in fact, they never made any meaningful statement about his current job at all. The Japanese Twitter linked to a profile that happened to refer to him being a plumber in the past tense, but this was specifically referencing the original Mario Bros. game, which was one of the few times he's actually done a plumbing job. In response to the misunderstanding, the profile was updated again in 2018. Clearly stating that, yes, Mario is a plumber, but he's not limited to just that.
No, the developers of Super Mario World didn't confirm that Mario abuses Yoshi, misleading headlines simply lead people into believing they did. They said that while it was originally conceived as Mario hitting him, most of the development team found that too mean for Mario and revised it into him simply pointing and telling Yoshi "Go". So they, in fact debunked the idea that Mario abuses Yoshi.
The 30th anniversary year of Super Mario Bros. saw the release of Super Mario Maker, a level-creating and -sharing game for the Wii U allowing players to make levels in the style of SMB, SMB 3, Super Mario World, or New Super Mario Bros. U. A downgraded port was also release to Nintendo 3DS the following year.
In Mario Party 1 and 2, the Japanese version of Mario Kart 64, and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Luigi is voiced by a French localizer called Julien Bardakoff. His take on Luigi is completely different from Martinet's. You can hear him here. In those same games, German localizer Thomas Spindler voices Wario, so he has a slight accent. It even caused the infamous "D'oh I missed!"/"So ein mist!" Mondegreen.
Peach had a much lower voice in the International versions of Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, provided by Nintendo Localization Director Leslie Swan. This voice was brought back in Super Mario 64 DS, complete with newly recorded lines for the ending to take the added playable characters into account... and then she's back to her high voice for the subsequent games.
In both Galaxy games and in Mario Kart Wii, Rosalina was voiced by Mercedes Rose, but from Mario Kart 7 onwards, she is instead voiced by Kerri Kane. Her voice actor changes yet again to Laura Faye Smith for Super Mario 3D World.
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto infamously stated in a 2012 interview that the Koopalings aren't Bowser's children, as described above.
The nicknames the developers respectively gave the Blue and Yellow Toads are, allegedly, Buckenberry and Ala-Gold.
Word of Saint Paul: Charles Martinet (talking in-character as Mario) confirmed the Mario last name at Comic Con 2012, prior to the Flip-Flop of God finally settling on same. Mind you, he also confirmed that Mario's mother is named "Mama Mia Mario", so how seriously you take his statements in that role is up to you.
The infamous The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Kootie Pie Rocks", where Milli Vanilli guest star as themselves. In November 1990, just two weeks after it first aired, Milli Vanilli were outed as lip-syncing their songs and their popularity plummeted. In addition, the series itself is based on one of the best-selling video games of 1990.
Super Mario World was based on the game that launched the Super NES. It couldn't have come out in any year other than 1991.
The Alcoholic: John Leguizamo admits in his autobiography that he and Bob Hoskins got through production mostly by being drunk off their asses and (pardon the pun) doing shots in-between shots. In one case, Leguizamo was forced to drive the van while being so drunk that when he swerved, the sliding door crushed Hoskins' hand, hence the inexplicable pink cast Mario has.
Box Office Bomb: Budget, $42 million (not counting marketing costs), $48 million (counting them). Box office, $20,915,465.
Creator Backlash: Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo disliked the film, though the latter seems to have eventually warmed up to the film, per this video.
Creator Killer: Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields), the producer of the film, never really recovered from the film's failure, though the similarly In-Name-Only adaptation of The Scarlet Letter he directed that was released two years later certainly didn't help. Also, this is the last theatrically released film with which the directing team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, of whom Bob Hoskins said "[their] arrogance had been mistaken for talent" in a 2007 interview, have been involved to date.
Deleted Scene: Nearly a half-hour of footage was cut to give the movie a proper running time. Deleted scenes include:
An extended sequence of Koopa chasing Daisy's mother in New York, which featured him gazing admiringly at the buildings which would later inspire his warped construction projects in Dinohattan.
Mario and Luigi actually confronting the "Scapelli brothers", Mike and Doug, in the River Front Café. They threaten the café's owner, Pascal, by invoking their boss' name. Pascal takes Mario aside and offers him and Luigi a free lunch to make it up to them, which leads to:
An alternate scene of Mario and Luigi eating. Daisy enters the café and uses the payphone inside, slipping on a wet floor as she leaves. Luigi catches her and the movie continues that way.
Mario and Luigi getting ready for their dinner date, during which Luigi expresses embarrassment at being a plumber. Mario chastises him and tells him he has no "family pride."
An extended sequence in the de-evolution chamber, during which one of the devo technicians is de-evolved into slime. A puddle can still be seen on the floor in the final film.
Iggy and Spike get drunk at the Boom Boom Bar and rap, which Lena cites later to Koopa as them "preaching your overthrow."
Various assorted scenes, including additional sequences from the cut "family pride" subplot.
Development Hell: Went through a rapid version of this, with over a half-dozen different writers, three sets of directors, and both Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman expressed interest in playing Mario before executives rejected them. In the end, the script was almost entirely rewritten on set with mutual silence between the cast, director, producers, and Nintendo brass. Then, allegedly due to drinking on set, Jankel ran into Leguizamo with a car, breaking his leg. You can even see the cast in some shots of the movie.
Enforced Method Acting: Mojo Nixon, who played Toad, was legitimately terrified of Dennis Hopper's performance as Koopa, particularly the scene where he was de-evolving and strapped to the chair.
The script by writers Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais was so clever that it inspired Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper, and Fiona Shaw to sign onto the project. However, the producers feared it wasn't kid-friendly enough, so they forced heavy rewrites and barred directors Jankel and Morton from contributing to them.
Further changes to the script in terms of special effects and character-development severely limited their vision even further.
In the end, over twenty minutes of footage was cut to get Mario and Luigi into the parallel world sooner while the atrociously animated intro was inserted to make up for it.
Follow the Leader: The directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel went in hoping to make this movie their Batman, which is what put the fellow eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton on the map. With that in mind, the tone being darker and the setting being that of stylized sprawling cityscape make a bit more sense.
Genre-Killer: For video game-based movies as a whole, for it was one of the first such films of this kind and set a very low standard for future such films to come.
Looping Lines: According to the post-production supervisor, Super Mario Bros. had the most ADR-looping of any film she had ever encountered.
Money, Dear Boy: The reason this film has one of the highest Embarrassed Actor Quotients since 1990. Apparently, many very good actors were having critical shortages of money around the same time … both Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins admitted they did it for the paycheck (in Hopper's case, it may have been a joke).
Dennis Hopper: I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time — he’s now eighteen — he said, "Dad, I think you’re probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?" and I said, "Well, Henry, I did that so you could have shoes," and he said, "Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly."
As noted under Creator Backlash, Leguizamo, who became Older and Wiser, is far less negative about the movie nowadays. Though he admits the movie isn't very good, he none the less has fond memories of working on it, says they all had a blast and was thrilled to get to work with Hoskins and Hopper. He also points out that even though the film wasn't great, the fact that people remember it 20 years later means it certainly left it's mark for better or worse.
Conversely, many of the non-leads have stated it was one of their favorite movies to work on. Some even say it is their favorite movie.
Orphaned Reference: There's a puddle of slime on the floor of the de-evolution chamber. This is left over from a deleted scene where a technician is de-evolved into slime.
Stillborn Franchise: The movie's troubled production, box-office failure, and resulting mandate from Nintendo ended the production of a sequel, and dashed studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg's dreams of bringing Nintendo products into Disney's business model. More drastically, it put Nintendo off licensing their products for live-action films to this day.
Throw It In!: Fisher Stevens and Richard Edson improvised most of their lines as Spike and Iggy.
Troubled Production: As Dennis Hopper put it, "It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn't talk before they made decisions... I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for seventeen. It was so over budget."
This interview reveals more of this film's troubled production.
To cut a long story extremely short, it's safe to say that literally everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The script changed several dozen times, including by the day during filming, the directors and writers being forbidden from interacting, the directors being locked out of the editing booth during the editing process until they got the Writer's Guild to back them up, and gigantic amounts of Executive Meddling.
Multiple figures were once involved in the project, from the directors wanting Kevin Costner for Koopa, Dustin Hoffman lobbying for the chance to play Mario as a treat for his kids, and Harold Ramis, the producers' original choice for director (contrary to popular rumor, Danny DeVito was never a choice for the role of Mario).
As far as casting Mario, Tom Hanks was initially hired for the role, but was fired and replaced with Hoskins, whom the executives thought was more profitable. In addition to Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Keaton were considered for Koopa.
An early draft of the script shows that Bowser only disguises himself as a human in his first two scenes, the Princess character is named Hildy, and Bowser wants to marry her in order to obtain the Crown of Invincibility with which to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. Actual game enemies such as Piranha Plants and Thwomps make appearances, Toad accompanies the Marios throughout their journey as a main character, a baby dinosaur named Junior thinks Mario is his mother, Luigi gets Raccoon Power at one point, one of Bowser's lackeys (a possible prototype for Kamek) tells Mario "Your Princess Is in Another Castle", Mario and Luigi sing a Villain Song for Bowser, Bowser ends up falling into a pit of lava … In other words, this draft is much more faithful to the games.
Mario's character was written differently before Bob Hoskins was attached to the role. Screenwriter Parker Bennett described him as "Bill Murray-esque", closer in age to Luigi,note Hoskins and Leguizamo were twenty-two years apart. and that they had Bruno Kirby in mind for the role.
[…]what we decided is, "Okay, Mario has a big chip on his shoulder about being a plumber. He’s inherited his dad’s business [and] it’s not what he wants to do"; it’s sort of a It's a Wonderful Life thing with Jimmy Stewart at the bank when he wants to be traveling the world. […] And in the end he learns through the adventure that he’s the greatest plumber in the world and he needs his brother and they’re a team together and that was sort of what we were trying to do for that.
The biggest one was the reason Jeffrey Katzenberg bought the rights to this film for Disney. Had the film been successful, the Walt Disney Company would have then started efforts to market Nintendo and their franchises, led (of course) by the Super Mario franchise, in the Disney Theme Parks. Katzenberg and Disney Animation were also working with Sega to a limited degree for the same reasons with the Aladdinvideo game,note Also, the Sonic SatAM and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series were distributed by Walt Disney Home Video on VHS and LaserDisc through DiC Toon-Time Video (these tapes start with the green FBI warning screens that also started this movie's VHS and which first appeared on the Walt Disney Studio Film Collection video series; they appeared on all tapes after the Walt Disney Classics video of Fantasia), long before Sonic appeared in the Disney Animated Classic Wreck-It Ralph. and both attempts virtually faded when Katzenberg departed the company the nextyear. Their attempt specifically to bring the Nintendo franchises into the Disney parks ended up biting them in the ass later on when major rival Universal Studios struck a licensing deal with Nintendo in May 2015 (and it ended up stinging Disney even more when Universal later announced that it would be producing an animated Mario movie through Illumination Entertainment in 2018).
Write Who You Know: Mojo Nixon, who played Toad, has stated in interviews that "...I'm not really an actor. I was a drunk musician playing a drunk musician."