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In short: Super Smash Bros.meetsSin City as well as Watchmen and Silence of the Lambs (but, oddly enough, not There Will Be Blood).There Will Be Brawl is a webseries that was eventually hosted by The Escapist and was directed by Matthew Mercer. Featuring live actors, it takes the most famous characters from Nintendo's library and puts them in a situation far removed from the bright and cheery childhood games we remember. The plot follows Luigi, who is now a jaded drug dealer trying to make ends meet in the seedy underworld of the Mushroom Kingdom for both himself and his brother. As the plot thickens and new dangers arise, Luigi searches for a reason to keep fighting for a city that seems beyond salvation.The overall dark tone of the series is accompanied by an engaging plot, good writing and acting, as well as some clever Mythology Gags from all over the Nintendo universe. In addition, the sheer effort put into the costumes, make-up and production design impresses to no end, even though some costumes that required a little extra creativity involved (Kirby, Fox, Dedede etc) can be a tad distracting at first, you can generally get too immersed in the story to notice after a while. The series seemingly aims to be a Deconstruction of Nintendo franchises in general, but often ends up as more of an Affectionate Parody of the plots and mechanics from the respective games.After the series ended they announced plans of a DVD, but that seems to have gone into Development Hell.The complete series can be found here.
This show provides examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: Young Link and Toon Link were folded into the character of "regular" Link. A photo of Link in his earlier days was "played" by stock pictures of the world's most famous Young Link cosplayer, and a doodle Zelda apparently drew some years ago resembled his Toon incarnation.
Adaptational Villainy: At least half the cast. This version of the hero of dreams and innocence (Kirby) is especially jarring.
Annoying Arrows: Link shoots Ganondorf twice in the shoulder, to no effect whatsoever.
Anti-Villain: King Dedede. He may be a corrupt, hedonistic mafia don with his flippers in all kinds of illegal doings, but he really wants to end the violence and, of the four mob bosses, stands the best chance of doing so. Until the butcher gets him.
Basically, he manages to be the closest to a Reasonable Authority Figure that Luigi and his friends have encountered during the series, as he genuinely wants to help find the Serial Killer and is the one person with powerful enough connections and resources to accomplish it.
Bowser — it turns out that he no longer cares about kidnapping princesses or conquering the kingdom now that the Mario Brothers aren't around to fight him. Now he's a Buddhist.
A bit closer to Worthy Opponent than Anti-Villain, though — whereas Dedede genuinely wants peace, Bowser still seems to hunger for the "good old days" of honorable brawling between clearly defined heroes and villains. Dedede was willing to cut a deal with Link, whereas Bowser responded to the chaos by sending his soldiers into the streets to take the kingdom by force, leading to tremendous bloodshed — and, of course, his own death.
Anyone Can Die: In the end, there are more dead Brawl characters than there were characters in Super Smash Bros Melee. Let's run down the body count in roughly chronological order, shall we? Daisy, Roy, Pichu, Mewtwo, Peach, Wolf, possibly Donkey Kong, Dedede, Isaac, Saki, MetaKnight, Yoshi, Falco, Bowser, Red, potentially Ike, Link, Zelda, Telma, Rosalina, Jill Dozer, Fox, End of Days (Olimar), Mr. Game & Watch, Wario, Ganondorf, Lucas and Ness, Masahiro Sakurai, and probably Shigeru Miyamoto and Kirby is AWOL... Phew!
Bad Ass: Mario. In Episode 6, he fights three rabid attack Yoshis with his bare hands then rides one of them around. A little on the Ax-Crazy side, but Bad Ass nonetheless. He also beats Donkey Kong so brutally in a fight that most assumed he was dead until it was confirmed that he was merely hospitalized.
Actually most characters are badass in the series, given it's a dark parody of a fighting game.
Breather Episode: Between Episode 4 and 5, and again between 7 and 8, consisting of gag reels from the Mushroom Kingdom news station.
Long time fans were disappointed by the first, as it was assembled from clips of four gag reels that had been on the series' official site since before the show moved to The Escapist, meaning it was nothing new to them. The second one was not filler, on the other hand, and Episode 8 came out almost immediately after.
The Cameo: Out of the main brawlers, Pikachu, Lucario, ROB, and Young and Toon Link are relegated to walk-on roles. There are also the assist trophies, Issac and Cyborg Ninja.
Lots of minor or lesser-known Nintendo characters make cameo appearances throughout the series, they can be seen in the characters page.
There's even the Excite Bike pilot assisting in the prison break in Episode 8.
Casting Gag: Matthew Mercer (AKA Ganondorf) and Joellen Elam (AKA Zelda) were dating while There Will Be Brawl was filmed. This was most likely the basis for the Ganondorf and Zelda romance subtext.
Cheerful Child: Red, the Pokémon trainer. He takes care of the Pokémon after Mewtwo is killed. Unique in that he's one of the only non-Gray characters, being simply Good. This makes his death all the more shocking, especially since Luigi was indirectly responsible.
Consulting a Convicted Killer: Kirby is re-imagined as an Expy of Hannibal Lecter, presenting him as an imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer that is consulted in the hope of solving other murders going on.
Creator Cameo: Zach Grafton and Matthew Mercer make several small cameos as Toads, policemen, and cultists.
Creepy Child: Ness and Lucas, to a ridiculous extreme given that they are the butchers.
Cryptic Conversation: When Luigi meets Olimar/End of Days, he seems to spout a bunch of nonsense and generic doomsday prophecies. When listened to again retrospectively, it turns out to be pretty clear cut Foreshadowing.
Cult: Olimar leads a cult centered around Master Hand.
Fox: More like...Crazy Hand!
If you want to get really technical, Fox is actually correct: the hand on Olimar's little shrine is a left hand. Master Hand is the right hand, Crazy Hand is the left.
Da Chief: Link is in charge of the police force of the Mushroom Kingdom, and he's not afraid to remind you about it either.
At the end of the series, Marth takes up this position.
Despair Event Horizon: Ganondorf's motivation in Episode 10 appears to more or less boil down to "how can heroes possibly go on when evil like Ness and Lucas exists?" The same applies to villains. See Even Evil Has Standards below.
The Mushroom Kingdom as a whole are on the verge of this from the beginning right until the end.
Surprisingly subverted in that Peach doesn't live to get rescued by Luigi.
Dramatic Shattering: Luigi, despite being The Stoic for most of the series, vents his frustration by chucking a glass against a wall in Episode 3, cutting out the background music.
Dramatic Unmask: In Episode 10 what looks like Metaknight umasks himself to show he is Kirby, who killed Metaknight and stole his mask and sword. This is pure Nightmare Fuel.
Drowning My Sorrows: Both Mario brothers have a tendency to do this at times, Mario more so than Luigi. So does Link, as we see when he interrogates Luigi.
Dual Wield: In the final episode, Marth wields Ike's old sword as well as his own, while Fox takes up Wolf's blaster. While facing both of the aforementioned, Nana beats down Popo and takes his hammer.
Ermine Cape Effect: Zelda appears in a business suit, but Hyrule's been absorbed by the Mushroom Kingdom so she's not really a princess anymore. Princess Peach on the other hand is always wearing her classic pink dress and crown, even when having sex.
Eye Beams/Eye Scream: As part of his cult's ritual sacrifice, Falco stares into ROB's eyes and gets lasered in his own.
Fallen Hero: Mario was on the border for awhile, but after hospitalizing Donkey Kong in a bar fight, he crossed into outright Anti-Hero territory. That's not to say that most of the cast aren't Anti Heroes to begin with though.
Link is enormously bitter and depressed, and has resorted to heavy alcoholism.
"Come back sometime, and maybe you can... show me your moves."
Foreshadowing- In episode 8, Zelda appears to break up a fight between Mario and Link, and the 2 men start arguing about princesses, to which Mario responds: "That bitch will be the death of you!", and in episode 9...
Bowser gives one too: "Let them know...no one made a trophy out of the king!"
The butcher's identity is faintly hinted at, though probably not enough to guess ahead of time: "As long as there is a single child..."
Grey and Grey Morality: Very few characters are clear-cut good or evil in TWBB. Red is the only completely Good characters, while only Kirby, Olimar, and the Ice Climbers are clear-cut Evil. Kirby himself is explicitly stated to be the reason everything fell apart—he taught the people to fear and it broke Mushroom Kingdom culture in half. Peach is the exact opposite—she's been explicitly stated to be the one thing holding the whole place together.
The finale reveals that Ness and Lucas are also VERY clear-cut evil. Of course, they've been completely broken by Kirby, so there's the question of how responsible they are for their own actions that makes their morality far more ambiguous.
Also, when Kirby shows up at the end of Episode 10 and tells Ganondorf he did a good job of watching the butchers in his absence before lopping his head off with Meta Knight's sword.
It's amusing how much more often that trope is used when the man himself is in the work in question. Ganondorf just can't seem to help himself from hijacking plots. It's what he does.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Samus, of all people, but she uses her position (not that kind of position...) to gather information, and is a very handy source of connections for Luigi.
Hope Spot: In the final episode, the previously impaled Link shoots Ganondorf with his light arrows, reveals he's at full health, shoots Ganondorf some more with the Master Sword...and then Ganondorf simply grabs him and explodes his head.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Link in Episode 7. He doesn't bother with the line and has more than one source of ready alcohol on hand...
Karma Houdini: By the end of the series, Kirby is still on the loose. Given the overall tone of the series, it's not terribly surprising. Karma seems to have long since decided to take its business elsewhere.
Mind Screw: The series leaves constant clues in reference to the identity of the butcher; in Episode 9 we're led to believe that it's Zelda. In Episode 10 the butchers turn out to be Ness and Lucas (two characters that had gotten no direct clues associated with them and have only had four seconds of total screentime in the entire series before Episode 10).
Depending on how strict or loose you are in deciding which ones count, there were somewhere around sixteen "___ is the killer" or "___ did it" Wild Mass Guessing threads, and not a single one of them got it.
Mob War: Between Bowser, Ganondorf, King Dedede, and Mewtwo. By Episode 9, only Ganondorf is left standing, and then it comes full circle when he's killed by Kirby, the original cause of the chaos.
The Mole: Wario, who sells the main characters out to the corrupt police force.
The identities of the serial killer's first victims: Pichu, Roy, and Mewtwo. (They were playable in Melee, but weren't included in Brawl.)
Dr. Mario is also brought up as Mario's failed medical practice. The pills Mario takes are from that game, and in the final episode, when Mario is suiting up, his doctor outfit is hanging next to his cape.
In episode 3, when Mario and Luigi are arguing, just after Luigi notices the pills Mario took, Mario pins Luigi against the wall, and you'll notice a poster for Super Mario Bros..
Luigi drinks from one of those Potion Flasks you got in Super Mario Bros. 2.
When Luigi unlocks his apartment door in episode 1, he uses a key from Super Mario Bros. 2, then one of those floating mask enemies appears behind him.
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it, there are two Zelda ones in a row: Link hurls his flask at Navi after one too many "Hey Listen"s[[in-universe]], and then in the next shot pulls another from his pocket. Multiple bottles, indeed.
Possibly unintentional, but in episode ten Link only gets two shots of his full health magic sword off at Ganondorf. The cartoon show had Link proudly announce that three shots of the sword would finish Ganon.
Luigi wasn't capable of saving Daisy from Kirby in the backstory; Luigi wasn't playable in the one title (Super Mario Land) where Daisy needed saving.
Waluigi references his actual appearances in games in the order he does things, starting with holding a tennis racket (his first appearance was in Mario Tennis) and then the Mario Party line (his next in-game appearance). A bit after that, Red then asks if Waluigi wants to go play go kart with him, which is the next game he appeared in. Finally, he says he has to go to play "Olympics" after giving Red a gift, another game in which he appears.
Relatedly, this may be why Waluigi is a mentally challenged man obsessed with games: he's never been in a proper Mario game.
In a sinister vein, the titular Brawl had its basis laid down due to Kirby's reign as the cannibal, and was kicked into motion with Ness and Lucas' actions as the butchers. HAL Laboratories is responsible for the Kirby games, the Mother trilogy, and the Super Smash Bros. series. In fact, if you count Ness as different from Ninten, Kirby was created first, then Ness, then Lucas, and then Super Smash Bros..
The kids are from Earthbound, a game where everything starts looking childish and innocent, but ends up being full of Nightmare Fuel. Lucas and Ness looked nice at first, but it turned out they were not what they seemed.
"They've been here since the beginning" is said by Olimar when talking about Mr.G&W and R.O.B, two of Nintendo's first creations, which had practically dissapeared since The Eighties. When did they decide to return? In Super Smash Bros., to kick asses! Hence the second part of the quote: "and they don't like what they see".
Olimar is referred to as End Of Days. This is a reference to the he stars in Pikmin where you have 30 in game days to complete his ship, as well as his Final Smash in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, "End of Day".
In episode 9, Captain Falcon mentions that Pit is Samus's younger brother. Kid Icarus and Metroid were designed by the same person, made on the same engine, released on the same day, and even share an enemy (the Metroids/Kometo).
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mario goes to root out the corruption in the police department and save his brother. He even uses the Master Key to open up and rescue everyone unfairly imprisoned... but he also ends up freeing Kirby. Oops.
Not only that, but remember how Meta Knight was killed by being burned so badly that they mistook his corpse for Kirby's? Kirby probably did that with the fire flower that Mario was carrying around and dropped in the confusion. If not for Kirby getting hold of the fire flower there's at least a decent chance Meta Knight would have beaten him again.
Old Shame: Mario very nearly goes berserk[[in-universe]] when the addled Waluigi says at his arrival, "It's Mario... It's a Mario party!"
Also, any mention of plumbers, for both Mario Brothers. Luigi is rather annoyed, but it's Mario's Berserk Button.
One Last Smoke: In a form; the last thing Red does is give Luigi a Jigglypuff so he could listen to her singing. One last random act of kindness. What's even worse is that Jigglypuff was also already killed in the blast and Red doesn't realize it.
Jigglypuff actually managed to survive. Leaf attacked Wario with her and then gave her to Paula at the end of Episode 10.
Maybe Jigglypuff had merely fainted?
The Oner: In the finale, the scene where Mario uses an Invincibility Star to pound his way through about twenty of Wario's goons for nearly a minute is shot without any breaks. A particularly impressive bit of work, considering the both the low-budget style of the series and the relatively complex fighting that ensues.
One-Woman Wail: Or in this case, One-Pokémon Trainer Wail. It provides the background for Peach's kidnapping.
Red does it again over his own funeral and Yoshi's murder.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Meta Knight seems to be this way with Kirby, seemingly dedicating his life to keeping guard over him. And then when Kirby escapes, Meta Knight responds to it by saying to Luigi; "He's mine... At last." before proceeding to fight him.
Mario seemed pretty angry after learning that Bowser was already dead before he had a chance to fight him personally.
Pet the Dog: Wario looks after his mentally handicapped brother, Waluigi. Of course, he later had Waluigi assist in the murder of Red.
Red Herring: The characters don't notice or mention it at all, but there's a brilliant one directed toward the viewers in the form of Jigglypuff. Red was seen conspicuously hiding her from the others a few times early on, which directly led to a few Wild Mass Guessing theories involving either Red or Jigglypuff being the murderer. Episode 9 reveals that both were innocent in every sense of the word, and Red was merely trying to keep Jigglypuff a surprise for Luigi until he finished training her to sing. This makes Red's funeral a gigantic Tear Jerker for the viewers who believed in him the whole time and an even more gigantic one for the viewers who didn't.
Another one: Bowser was innocent all along.
And yet another one, one that was believed far more frequently: Meta Knight wasn't the butcher; he was killed by Kirby, who turned out to be the Big Bad, but not the butcher.
Luigi's entire profile of the butcher as being "fast, and good with a blade" was wrong! The actual butchers didn't have any particularly notable speed (but did have PK Teleport in the games, though it was never referenced in any of the ten episodes) or proficiency with a blade, like many of the other characters do. They had a snake and a baseball bat and they disembowel their victims using psychic powers. The baseball bat was used to cause blunt force trauma and the snake was used to poison victims. Brilliantly, Kirby actually chastises Luigi for this and hints that he’s on the wrong track. Near everyone ignored this as Kirby just playing mind games.
The music playing when Olimar takes Luigi to his spaceship in Episode 5 is haunting, but not quite scary. It does, however, start setting the tone for what comes next. Once they enter the spaceship, the music gets creepier, and the violin screeches when Olimar kills and chops up the Pikmin, combined with their death screams, will make you shudder every single time, even when you know it's coming.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Leaf plays a tape of Red singing a slower, almost melancholy rendition of the main Pokémon theme (Gotta Catch 'Em All) at Red's funeral. Considering the circumstances, it was almost an unintentional Video Will.
Take That: Sonic and Snake, the two non-Nintendo characters in the SSB series, are depicted as homeless and crippled, living in boxes in a back alley. The living arrangements, as noted above, are a reference to their Canon Immigrant status. The handicaps, on the other hand, are pure Take That.
Arguably the entire story could be considered to contain an underlying Take That against Nintendo's recent policies in marketing and game development. The Neglectful Precursors themes, the abandonment of the old "heroes and villains" dichotomy... perhaps a statement about Nintendo's apparent abandonment of old fan-favorite game styles to push for the non-gamer market?
This is heavily implied by End of Days in the final episode when he mentions how the Nintendo Building is a monument to those who had long abandoned them. Makes you wonder why Kirby killed Sakurai at the end of the series when it was Nintendo's abandonement that caused his rise to power in the first place.
This one is kind of a stealth Take That: Meta-Knight, who in Brawl is widely considered to be the best character in the game to the point of being a game-breaker, gets his long-awaited fight with Kirby, who was ranked as one of, if not the worst character in Melee. And then loses. His body is so badly burned that he's mistaken for Kirby - Mario dropped a Fire Flower a few minutes earlier, presumably Kirby got hold of it and used it to win the fight. This could possibly be a Take That to people who prefer to use Meta-Knight in tournament play.
Alternatively it could be a Take That to item usage, implying it messes up the balance of the game.
Take-That Kiss: Zelda kissing Ganondorf grossed out some people. Most people agree that the second kiss, after he stabbed her is squick, though.