In 1993, Lightmotive made a Live-Action Adaptation out of Super Mario Bros., which was later bought by Disney (or, more specifically, its banner Hollywood Pictures) under Jeffrey Katzenberg's (now of Dreamworks) direction. That's right, an attempt was actually made to make a coherent narrative out of plumbers, killer turtles, and mushrooms — and it did so by reimagining the franchise in a cyberpunk fashion.
Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and his younger brother Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) are Italian-American plumbers trying hard to earn a living in Brooklyn. A run-in with Daisy (Samantha Mathis), a paleontology student in her 20s, has Luigi very interested and the two quickly bond. However, all their lives are turned upside-down when Daisy, as well as Mario's girlfriend Daniella (Dana Kaminski), are kidnapped and taken through a mysterious portal in Daisy's dig site after it's sabotaged by rival plumbers from the Scapelli corporation, which is looking to build there.
The portal leads to a parallel world where reptiles, instead of mammals, evolved into people and became the dominant species on the planet. The alternate world is mostly barren wastelands, except for Dinohattan, which appears as a dark and dystopian version of New York, run by the despotic President Koopa (Dennis Hopper) and his lover Lena (Fiona Shaw), and further besieged by a mysterious fungus. Attempting to rescue Daisy and Daniella, the Mario Brothers end up going on a crazy adventure through every tier of this "Mushroom Kingdom" and eventually realize it's up to them to stop Koopa from conquering Earth for its resources and turning anyone who opposes him into their evolutionary ancestors.
This film is notable for being the first ever full-length, theatrical, live-action motion picture to be based on a video game, though it is not the first feature-length theatrical production based on a video game in general; that title goes to the obscure 1986 Japanese animated film The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!, which was also a Mario movie adaptation.
While it failed at the box office, the movie developed a cult following and has a dedicated fansite that archived various versions of the movie, restored many deleted scenes and trailers, and released a Region 2 Blu-ray with many extras. In June 2021, the people behind the site pooled their resources with filmmaker Garret Gilchrist (of The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut and early RedLetterMedia fame) to create a Fan Edit combining over 20 minutes of deleted scenes with a re-edited version of the final film. It was released through Archive.org.
A sequel webcomic with creative input from one of the movie's writers was announced for the 20th anniversary. However, the comic hasn't been updated since 2015. Super Mario Bros 1991, an early script of the film, has its own page.
Decades after the film was released, Nintendo announced a new film based on the Mario franchise. It will feature an unrelated story, however, and be an Animated Adaptation courtesy of Illumination Entertainment, and is rumored to be released at some point in 2022.
The movie and comic provide examples of:
- 0% Approval Rating: Despite being the ruler of Dinohattan, Koopa gets no love from its citizens, who all celebrate when he dies. Toad lampshades this during his "The Villain Sucks" Song. Justified as Koopa is an evil, sadistic despot who turned their once thriving kingdom into a dystopian, fascistic hellscape.
- Averted. Koopa has a wanted poster of the plumbers posted all over the city, with an 800 number to call if they are spotted. The number is a legitimate toll-free number in the US, and if you call it, it's now a phone sex hotline.
- Played straight with the brothers' van, which has a fake number.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The one the brothers are shown running around in under Manhattan is about the size of a subway tunnel.
- Actor Allusion: Bob Hoskins manages to give the Big Bad a Karmic Death being Hoisted by His Own Petard and liquified in some form. Why does that sound so familiar?
- Actually, I Am Him: The lawyer assigned to the Mario Bros. warns them that they don't want to deal with Koopa, who he describes as "one evil, egg-sucking son of a snake." It's ultimately revealed that their "lawyer" is Koopa.Luigi: You're Koopa?! But you said you were-
Koopa: One evil, egg-sucking son of a snake. Did I lie?
- Adaptation Expansion: As this movie was being written, the Super Mario Bros. series didn't have much story or defined personalities for the characters outside of the various cartoon series or somewhat obscure comics. Because of this the writers decided to write the story from the angle of a prequel, exploring how the Mario Bros. became the Super Mario Bros. In the process, Mario and Luigi were given an older brother/younger brother dynamic/conflict, and Koopa was provided a more defined motivation for kidnapping the Princess other than his infatuation with her from the games. It also suggests how Toad and Yoshi came to be at the Princess' side.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Downplayed. Unlike the games, Mario is quite a grouchy and cynical man, and is initially the least willing to save Daisy. Over time, he gets better though.
- Adaptation Species Change: In the games, Daisy is a human, Bowser Koopa is a Koopa (turtle) and Toad is a humanoid species with a mushroom-shaped head of the same name. In the movie, they're a race of humanoid dinosaurs called the "Dinohattanites".
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Koopa is changed from a giant turtle monster to a relatively good-looking humanoid, until the end of the movie where he's devolved into a T-Rex...and then primordial slime.
- Adaptational Badass:
- Koopa Troopas and Goombas are hulking monsters armed with flamethrowers and devo-guns, making them harder to defeat than their game counterparts.
- The Bob-Omb. There's a reason everyone screams and runs away when Mario pulls one out late in the film. If Bob-Ombs caused that much destruction in the games, they would probably make the games unwinnable.
- Adaptational Nonsapience:
- While the Goombas' sapience in the games wasn't clarified until much later, the Goombas in the movie clearly lack the mental capacity to speak much, and instead hiss like lizards.
- Yoshi talks in most games, but doesn't in the movie, being more of a pet dinosaur.
- The normally living Bob-Ombs are reduced to non-sentient wind-up bombs.
- Adaptational Ugliness: The Goombas are Tiny-Headed Behemoths and definitely not as cute as their video game counterparts.
- Adaptational Wimp: Koopa was changed from a turtle dragon sorcerer into a humanoid President Evil with above-average strength. There's a brief moment at the end where he turns into a Tyrannosaurus rex, but he ends up devolved into primordial ooze in short order.
- Adult Fear: Daniella and Daisy's kidnappings are played to scary effect, and the other girls Iggy and Spike kidnapped are talked about before being seen. As far as the residents of Brooklyn knew, they were missing and probably dead.
- Age Lift: Mario is middle-aged in this film. In canon he's in his mid-20s, but this didn't come up till the 2000s (Mario's trophy information in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee says he's 26), and early material for the games show that Mario might have been originally intended to be middle-aged. Mario's also considerably older than Luigi, but the Bros. wouldn't be established as fraternal twins until 1995's Yoshi's Island, so that's forgivable.
- The Alleged Car: The Mario Bros.' van has seen better days, and breaks down shortly after arriving at the Riverfront Cafe.
- All There in the Manual:
- The name of the city that Koopa is ruling over is called "Dinohattan" (like the human world's Manhattan in New York City) in various promotional releases and a Freeze-Frame Bonus in-movie, but is never referred to by name in dialogue.
- The nation Dinohattan is in is "Saurasaland," a pun on Sarasaland, Daisy's kingdom from Super Mario Land.
- Lena's species is never stated in the film, but according to makeup artist Jeff Goodwin she's a Pterosaur.
- All There in the Script: The reason why Daisy is the only one that can merge the dimensions is because she's the sole survivor of the Portal-Keepers, an esoteric society mutated by the meteorite's radiation.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Mario and Luigi get mugged for the rock by a Never Mess with Granny type with a stun gun; unfortunately for her, a passing Big Bertha sees the rock and hurls the old woman off a walkway and into a passing car, claiming it for herself.
- Always Night: Aside from a brief scene in the Koopahari desert, Dinohattan is always seen at night.
- And I Must Scream: The King apparently spent around twenty years as a formless mass of fungus, but was still sentient and conscious through it all. It's not as bad as it could be, as he was able to keep tabs on the entire city, contain Koopa, and help the Mario Bros. restore him, but it's still very unpleasant.[Lena tells Daisy what happened to her mother.]
Daisy: What about my father, is he alive?
Lena: It depends on what you mean by living.
- And the Adventure Continues: The final scene before the credits has Daisy call upon the Mario Brothers once again.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: Following Koopa's demise, the entire city cheers the Mario Brothers and starts to dance and celebrate.
- Animated Credits Opening: Partially. The movie opens with a pixelated art style that shifts into live-action after the dinosaurs express their contentment with life, get wiped out by a meteor, and the parallel dimension concept is explained. This was due to focus groups, as test audiences weren't getting the concept of the parallel dimensions and needed it spelled out.
- Arc Words: "Trust the fungus" is spoken by Luigi as he urges Mario to trust in the fungi-fied king. It's later repeated by Mario as he heeds that advice.
- Artistic License Biology:
- The residents of Dinohattan, including Daisy, are said to descend from reptiles and yet somewhere along the course of their evolution, they developed the ability to grow hair, and (for the women) breasts, which would technically make them mammals.
- A modern-day skunk appears alongside dinosaurs in the brief animated portion of the opening credits.
- Artistic License Geography: The asteroid that rendered the dinosaurs extinct and opened a portal to another dimension supposedly struck what is now Brooklyn, New York City when a lot of evidence suggests that the asteroid really struck what is now the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Asshole Victim: The de-evolution of Anthony Scapelli; a hard-core Crooked Contractor, lecherous scumbag, and Unwitting Instigator of Doom, into a chimpanzee is played as a funny instance of karmic retribution.
- Bad Boss: Koopa outright threatens to kill Iggy and Spike unless they recapture Mario and Luigi.Koopa: Here's what's logical to me. If you do not return with the plumbers and the rock... I shall personally kill you.
- Badass Longcoat: All the Goombas wear long brown trench coats, making them even more intimidating.
- Bait-and-Switch: The movie opens with the iconic overworld theme from the original, but then shows pixelated scenes very different from the games' art style before moving into live-action.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Koopa has Lena clean Daisy up and give her a makeover before they meet face-to-face, including a princess dress that belonged to her mother, a different hairstyle, and red lipstick.
- Batman Gambit: Mario thinks he's pulling one on Luigi during the police chase, by asking him to pick a direction and then figuring the wisest decision is whatever Luigi doesn't choose. Luigi outsmarts him though and gets him to go through a tunnel by telling him to drive away from it.
- Because You Were Nice to Me:
- The devolved Toad, who Daisy saves while on fire, gives both her and Luigi Devolution rifles to defeat Koopa.
- It's implied that Yoshi is regularly abused, but Daisy treats him kindly and stops him from hurting himself trying to bite the chain loose. The little dino later tries to defend her.
- Although they are initially blackmailed into helping them, Iggy and Spike continue to assist the Mario Bros and Daisy because they were the only ones who appreciated their efforts.
- Big Applesauce: Like quite a few other Mario adaptations, Mario and Luigi are Brooklyn-based New Yorkers.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Koopa and Scapelli, though the latter edges into Big Bad Wannabe thanks to, well, being a normal human (as opposed to an evolved dinosaur-man) with little involvement past the first third of the movie until he shows up which leads to him being de-evolved by Koopa.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Big Bertha, the bouncer at the Boom Boom bar, is large and very strong. Mario dances with her in an attempt to get the meteorite necklace, and she later helps the Marios out when Lena and the soldiers invade the bar.
- Big Good: The fungus encroaching the city, who's really Daisy's father, helps save the Mario Brothers several times and gives them items to fight off Koopa at the end.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Mario tells Iggy and Spike to shut up before asking about the meteorite fragment.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Done with the death of Daisy's mother. As she is being killed by the cave-in, we cut to baby Daisy being "born" (hatching from an egg) in the church.
- Blame Game:Koopa: Where's the rock?
[Iggy and Spike look at each other in confusion]
Iggy: Rock, sir?
Koopa: The meteorite piece that she wears around her neck. I told you not to forget it!
Spike: Oh, that rock!
Iggy: (to Spike) I told you not to forget it!
Koopa: (to Iggy) And I told you to remind him!
- Body Horror:
- Daisy's father was transformed into a huge fungus that chokes the city.
- Toad is forcibly devolved into a Goomba.
- A deleted scene has Koopa de-evolve a technician into primeval ooze just for sneezing in his presence.
- Bond One-Liner: Luigi makes one in reference to Lena being fossilized. "She sure makes an impression."
- Bonding over Missing Parents: Luigi and Daisy bond at the restaurant over not knowing their parents, though Daisy does find her father later.
- Brick Joke:
- Koopa orders a pizza about halfway through the movie. Later, as he's about to prepare his Goomba army, he wonders what's taking his pizza so long. Finally, as he has cornered the Mario Brothers in the climax, he gets a phone call from the pizza joint that his pizza has arrived.
- As soon as Mario and Luigi are trying to get their bearings around Koopa's city, a cyclist collides with a yellow car and is electrocuted. In one of the last scenes, before the final confrontation with Koopa, the same car can be seen with a skeleton on the hood.
- Brooklyn Rage: Mario has a temperamental personality and, appropriately enough, sports a Brooklyn accent. Luigi is considerably more mellow.
- Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Iggy and Spike are Koopa's two main henchmen and are initially dumb as rocks, having mistaken 5 different girls for Daisy under the basis of having two arms, two legs, and one head.
- The Cameo: Lance Henriksen appears as the Mushroom King for about five seconds.
- Canon Foreigner:
- Captivity Harmonica: Toad, who is depicted as a street musician, plays one after he and the Mario Bros. are arrested, and placed in giant cages. He even plays it after his de-evolution to a Goomba.
- Card-Carrying Villain: When Mario and Luigi meet up with their "attorney," the attorney tells them that they don't want to meet Koopa, as he is "one evil, egg-sucking son of a snake." When it is revealed that Koopa was the person who acted as their attorney, Luigi expresses shock, to which Koopa then repeats the above description and asks "Did I lie?"
- Chest of Medals: Koopa's military uniform has tons of medals, as well as spikes.
- Clipped-Wing Angel: Koopa is de-evolved into a T-rex near the end, but easily de-evolved further into primordial slime.
- Composite Character:
- Daisy has Princess Peach's personality and looks with Daisy's name and kingdom traits. This was done because the writers felt "Toadstool" (the only other name available at the time) was "just weird", with the fantasy draft naming the princess Hildy.
- In addition to Foreman Spike, Scapelli is based on Donkey Kong as well, due to his harassing Daisy at a construction site and his de-evolution into a monkey.
- Cool Car: The Koopa-Troopamobiles, aka the Dinohattan police cars, are powered by an electrical grid and create plenty of sparks when in action.
- Crapsack World: Dinohattan is a sprawling police state filled with crime and fungus. Toad suggests that life wasn't always so bad, but things went south fast after Koopa took over.
- Crooked Contractor: Scapelli, who makes his Establishing Character Moment by talking to Daisy about how her archaeology work is getting in the way of his construction contracts like a standard big-shot member of The Mafia (lecherous looks included) and sends goons (who don't even bother to avoid wearing stuff with the company logo) late at night to sabotage the site.
- Crowd Hockey: At the Boom Boom Bar, Lena and her soldiers try to take the meteorite necklace away. Mario and Luigi keep it away from her a couple of times by ducking through the crowd and tossing it back and forth, but eventually she takes it from them.
- Cut Short: The film left room for a sequel in the ending, but any plans for a sequel were all but cancelled due to the bad reviews and middling sales for the movie.
- Damsel in Distress: Daisy, Daniella, and other girls from Brooklyn were all captured and must be rescued by the Mario Bros.
- Damsel out of Distress: With help from Yoshi, Daisy manages to escape briefly and alert the Marios to her location, as well as save Toad from being set on fire.
- Darker and Edgier: The "Mushroom Kingdom" is a Blade Runner-esque dystopia being slowly overtaken by sentient fungus. Goombas and Koopas are seven-foot-tall reptilian humanoids with tiny heads, and industrial-looking flamethrowers are the film's answer to the Fire Flower.
- Defiant to the End: Toad continues to rant at and badmouth Koopa as he is shoved into the Devo Chamber.Toad: Our old king, you tried to get rid of him! But the king's everywhere! You can't get rid of him! EVER!!
- Delusions of Eloquence: Iggy and Spike think they're smarter when they're mentally evolved, but despite the added brainpower they're just as incompetent.
- Depraved Bisexual: Lena is a power-hungry villain, and shows interest in both Koopa and Daisy. The movie writers confirmed she was bisexual as well.
- Devolution Device: Koopa's Devo-Chamber, which he uses to create his Goombas. Near the end of the film, portable gun versions were created, which Koopa tests on Scapelli, turning him into a monkey. The Mario Bros. later use the devo guns on Koopa.
- Digital Destruction: The 2003 Region 1 DVD release from Disney is a phoned-in transfer of the Laserdisc master, which, among other things, suffers from massive DVNR, poor color correction, and constant motion smearing. Even worse, because the transfer is non-anamorphic, widescreen televisions read it as a full screen image, resulting in black bars on all four sides of the screen. Its only saving grace is the surprisingly impressive 5.1 surround sound mix. Compare this to Second Sight's 2014 Blu-ray release, which boasts a 4K restoration with much crisper picture and properly formatted for widescreen. Sadly, said Blu-ray release was released only in the UK and region-locked, so North American fans are still stuck with the DVD with no plans by Disney for a Blu-ray release.
- Dinos Need Aliens: The evolved dinosaur humanoids of Dinohattan saw the end of Koopa thanks to two human brothers from a parallel dimension who, to them, would be aliens. Lampshaded.Police Scanner: ALIEN SPECIES ESCAPING FROM POLICE DETENTION...
Luigi: Aliens? What we gotta deal with aliens too?
Mario: Luigi, we're the aliens!
Luigi: We are? Whoa cool!
- Disappointed in You: Koopa says this to Iggy and Spike when Lena informs him of their, in her words, "preaching your overthrow at the Boom Boom Bar".
- Disaster Dominoes: Minor example. When the Goombas are distracted by Toad's harmonica playing and stand in a line, a frustrated Koopa punches one, causing the expected chain reaction.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Early on, Luigi calls their house to see if they have any messages. He has his eyes on Daisy while a message plays, where a guy fanatically tells them he's got a very huge flood, but he gives her the phone and turns it off.Mario: Any jobs?
Luigi: Uh... no.
- Doing In the Wizard: The film removes most of the colourful fantasy elements in the original games and replaces it with a dark sci-fi skin akin to Blade Runner (although its use of "science" is rather loose). Instead of being a turtle-dragon beast who can use sorcery, Koopa uses a technological "de-evolution" ray to transform his subjects and he's a humanoid evolved from a Tyrannosaurus rex.
- Domesticated Dinosaurs: Yoshi is a pet of the royal family, and while Koopa mistreats him, he quickly bonds with Daisy and helps her escape captivity.
- Doorstop Baby: Daisy was left on the door of a convent.
- The Dreaded: Thanks to its Adaptational Badass in the film, the presence of a tiny Bob-Omb forces almost everyone to scramble out the area.
- Dull Surprise: Koopa goes into this when Mario sets the Bob-Omb.
- Dumb Dinos: While exceptions exist, the sapient dinosaur-people are generally more stupid, violent, and crude than their human counterparts.
- Dumb Muscle: The entire point of the Goombas, as Koopa takes every opportunity to hammer in.
- Dystopia Is Hard: Seen in-universe as Koopa's motivation. His dictatorship mismanaged Dinohattan so terribly that the world is running out of resources, so he plans to leave everyone there behind while he takes over Earth.
- Early Adaptation Weirdness: The film contains a lot of old remnants, such as the manual's plot of Toadstool being the daughter of the Mushroom King, Koopa transforming Toads and other creatures with magic, Goombas being traitors to the throne, and Mario being a middle-aged man (which he originally was, but even in Japan this was changed by the late-1980s) and several years older than Luigi because they wouldn't be revealed as twins until Yoshi's Island.
- Egopolis: Koopa Tower, Koopa Station, Koopa Square, Koopa Kino Cinema, Koopa Canyon, Koopahari Desert, Koopa coins, and even the "Koopa Special" pizza. Possibly done not only out of narcissism, but also propaganda aside from his campaign ads posted all throughout the city. It's surprising he didn't rename the city "Koopahattan".
- Empathic Environment: After Koopa's defeat, the fungus recedes and water floods the streets of Dinohattan, symbolically showing the city's on the road to recovery.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The popularity of dinosaurs with children in the '90s thanks to the "Dinosaur Renaissance" is thought to be the reason they were so integrated into the setting. Super Mario World's Dinosaur Land was also cited as a reason for the setting.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Koopa turns minor antagonist Anthony Scapelli into a monkey, and intends to do the same to the other humans.
- Evolutionary Levels:
- Koopa "evolves" or "de-evolves" several characters physically and mentally, later weaponizing the technology as portable guns. Interestingly, the shooting script for the movie avoids this by explaining that the technology doesn't reverse the evolutionary process; it's just a standard Transformation Ray that forcibly mutated (or evolved) beings by triggering latent genes. Separate settings were meant to affect either an organism's physical or intellectual state.
- The concept of the parallel world "Dinohattan" runs on the premise that humans evolved from dinosaurs instead of mammals. Aside from laying eggs and Koopa having a lizard tongue, they are physically and behaviorally identical to human beings despite a completely different ancestry. The Mushroom King also apparently evolved into a human from... fungus.
- Exact Words: Seen when Daisy asks Lena for help to escape.Daisy: Lena, will you help me get out of here?
Lena: Alright... (pulls out a knife) I'd love to get you out of here!
- Daniella is based on Mario's first girlfriend Pauline, sharing similar hair and clothing and being in an established relationship with Mario. This is made even more obvious in the script, which reveals that Daniella's full name is "Daniella Pauline Verducci".
- King Koopa himself is one for Dennis Hopper's memorable villain, Frank Booth. His appearance is based on Max Headroom, a character previously created by the film's directors.
- Anthony Scapelli is based on Foreman Spike from Wrecking Crew, in that both are mean construction company bosses who are always trying to interfere with work of the Mario Bros.
- External Retcon: According to director Rocky Morton, the film was meant to show the "real" story that the games were based off of which became distorted over time like classical myths, which is supported by the post-credits scene where Iggy and Spike are commissioned to make their own video game.
- Fakin' MacGuffin: Mario decides to bluff Koopa into thinking he has the meteorite necklace by holding shoelaces in his hand so Luigi has time to get the real one.
- Fan Sequel: Courtesy of a web comic.
- Fantastic Racism: Koopa just cannot let that mammal thing go. If the "throwback" line is any indication, Koopa also looks down on Yoshi and any other dinosaur who hasn't evolved.
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Discussed by Iggy and Spike when one of them says that Koopa's going to kill them, only for the other to say, "He's not gonna kill us, he's not that nice."
- Koopa de-evolves Toad into a Goomba as punishment, making him work for the society that did it to him. He plans to do it on a larger scale to the inhabitants of Earth with handheld devo guns, and in the movie's climax Koopa is de-evolved further back into primordial slime.
- Foreshadowing: In the scene where Koopa de-evolves Toad, he notes that his ancestor was Tyrannosaurus rex, also curling his hands at chest level like the dinosaur's arms. Koopa is eventually de-evolved into a Tyrannosaurus.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Daisy uses the light-gun communicator, the name of Koopa's city◊ can be seen, as can the various◊ systems◊ the communicator taps into.
- Fungus Humongous: Taken to a literal level with the transformed Mushroom King.
- Funny Background Event: After Koopa's defeat, Mario, Luigi, and Daisy can be seen dancing with Bertha and the old lady that stole the rock earlier.
- Genius Loci: The fungus, who's actually the transformed king, occasionally drops weapons (like Bob-Omb) to aid Mario and Luigi and attempts to communicate with them.
- Gone Horribly Right: After finally getting sick of Iggy and Spike's stupidity and incompetence, Koopa uses the Devo Chamber to vastly augment their intelligence before sending them out to the Koopahari Desert to recapture Mario and Luigi. However, Iggy and Spike are now smart enough to think for themselves and pull a HeelFace Turn.
- Good Republic, Evil Empire: Inverted, as the good King Bowser was overthrown by the despotic President Koopa.
- Green Aesop: Koopa mismanaged Dinohattan so terribly that the people are running out of food, water, and clean air, prompting him to invade Earth, where the same thing would likely happen. While made clearer in the novelization than in the finished film, Daisy's father managed things wisely and ensured there was enough for everyone.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Lena is intensely jealous of Daisy and Koopa's interest in her.
- Groin Attack: Mario hands Luigi his boots by dropping them on his crotch.
- HeelFace Turn: Iggy and Spike turn good after becoming smart enough to think for themselves. They claimed to have always been the royal family's "loyal supporters", but the scene that confirmed it was cut from the release version.
- Hellish Pupils: Koopa's eyes revert to a dinosaur's reptilian pupils after he's briefly trapped in the evolution machine.
- He's Got a Weapon!: "It's a BOB-OMB!" "HE'S GOT A BOB-OMB!"
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Lena ends up literally fossilized by the very power she tried to use to merge dimensions.
- Koopa is defeated with his own devo guns.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The introduction comments on how the dinosaurs evolved into "intelligent, vicious, aggressive beings... just like us."
- Human-Focused Adaptation: Unlike the video games (but somewhat like the first two cartoons), the film distinguishes the "real" world and the setting of the games as being separate, adding in some human drama for the Mario Bros. (who are not from the video game setting) before entering Dinohattan with the Scapelli brothers. A variant of this trope is that many totally non-human characters from the games like Koopa, Toad, Iggy and Spike are turned into completely Human Aliens (although Toad and Koopa are de-evolved into speechless reptiles at points).
- I Choose to Stay: Daisy decides to stay in the other world to repair the damages caused by Koopa and leaves Luigi.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Between Koopa and Daisy, though Lena gets in on it a bit as well.
- If Jesus, Then Aliens: Luigi is presented this way at the beginning of the movie. His hobbies include weird tabloid magazines and bizarre mystery shows, and his mind is open to pretty much all of it. It's presumably the reason he so easily accepts the idea of an alternate dimension. This is echoed at the end when Mario comes around to his way of thinking after the unbelievable things they'd witnessed first-hand.Daisy: You gotta come with me, I need your help!
Luigi: What's wrong?
Daisy: You're never gonna believe this.
Mario: I believe it!
Luigi: You do?
Mario: Oh, I believe.
- I'm Melting!:
- Koopa is de-evolved all the way back to primordial ooze. Barely subverted with the King who, while de-evolved into fungus, remained sentient and active enough to help the Mario Bros.
- In a deleted scene, Koopa de-evolves a technician into slime saying that "It's more than just dead, it's being...(shudders)...undone."
- In Name Only: There's the Mario Bros., a captured princess, Yoshi, and the Koopas, but almost everything else is very far removed from the games.
- Ironic Echo: "See ya later, Alligator!" is used first when Koopa de-evolves Toad, and later when Mario and Luigi de-evolve Koopa.
- It's All About Me: Seen as Lena tries to kill Daisy.Daisy: Why are you doing this?
Lena: Because everyone deserves what they've earned. And I've earned this!
- It's Personal: Koopa grows to hate Mario after he's briefly put through the Devo Chamber, and targets him specifically when he attempts to take over."I'LL KILL THAT PLUMBER!"
- Jump Scare: A surprisingly effective one when Koopa's Tyrannosaurus form lunges out.
- Karmic Death: Koopa is de-evolved into a Tyrannosauras rex and then into primeval slime just like every person he had de-evolved or killed.
- Kick the Dog: Koopa, in anger for making a bad impression on Daisy, literally kicks Yoshi.Koopa: Throwback!
- King of the Dinosaurs: Koopa is descended from the T. rex and turns into one in the end. Yoshi also somewhat resembles a miniature Tyrannosaurus.
- Lady Macbeth: Lena supports Koopa's plans to take over Earth, sharing his disgust for mammals and the fungus-infested city, and mentions to Daisy that he needed her close by, hence her promotion. Later in the film, she betrays Koopa and tries to kill Daisy, intent on merging the dimensions herself.
- Large Ham:
- Koopa is played by Dennis Hopper. Did you expect anything less?
- Fiona Shaw's performance as Lena is pretty cold and understated... until she's trying to merge the dimensions. Then she reaches Rita Repulsa levels of hamminess. Of course, considering she had just been severely electrocuted, her new hamminess may be the result of having her mind fried.
- Laser-Guided Karma: For his efforts to sabotage Daisy's archaeological dig and the Mario Bros' plumbing business, Scapelli gets turned into a monkey by Koopa's devo-gun.
- Laser Sight: Mario and Luigi get arrested by Koopa's men and have their mug shots taken, but the cameras have laser sights, making them briefly believe they are guns.
- Living Dinosaurs: The inhabitants of the parallel dimension are evolved dinosaurs.
- Losing a Shoe in the Struggle:
- Daisy struggling against Iggy and Spike's kidnapping leads to her pendant necklace breaking and Luigi retrieving the rock.
- In the climactic battle against Koopa, Mario and Luigi lose their caps due to the strong beams from their devo guns.
- Lost World: It's implied that dinosaurs have escaped from the parallel dimension into our world and humans into theirs throughout history.
- Mage in Manhattan: Koopa's whole plan is to merge his dimension with ours so he can devolve everyone into monkeys and take over both worlds. He even temporarily teleports to Manhattan, but only manages to fire his de-evolution gun on the secondary antagonist before he's sucked back to the Mushroom Kingdom.
- Male Gaze: Daisy's necklace dangling over Bertha's ample cleavage. Mario tries his best Leisure Suit Larry routine, but really, he's just desperate to get the crystal back.
- Meat Moss: The King is slowly but surely strangling Dinohattan with his tendrils.
- Meet Cute: Luigi and Daisy meet by chance when Daisy needs the phone Luigi is currently using. An earlier version of the script had a more traditional Meet Cute where Luigi helped Daisy after she slipped on some water coming out of the Riverfront Cafe.
- Merged Reality: Koopa wants to make this happen so he can take over the resulting merged world. It briefly happens until Luigi and Daisy manage to reverse it, and in the shooting script it went even further with New York locales being displaced into Dinohattan and vice-versa.
- Military Coup: It is strongly implied that this was the method in which Koopa took control of Dinohattan.
- Missing Mom: Daisy's mother is killed escaping Koopa.
- Mood Whiplash: The dancing Goombas in the elevator scene is followed by an intense scene of Lena attempting to kill Daisy and stabbing Yoshi, then goes back to the dancing Goombas.
- Mook Lieutenant: Sergeant Simon first appears to be just a random Dinohattan desk sergeant but is given increasingly more important duties.
- Mythology Gag: Plenty to the games and even other Mario media. A more comprehensive list can be seen here.
- Much like the fish's depiction in the Nintendo Comics System, the movie's Big Bertha develops a crush on Mario.
- Luigi thought he was flying after running and jumping off the elevator shaft. Turned out a hook caught his overalls.
- Near the beginning of the movie, the Mario Bros. pass by a store called "Mr. Video III", a reference to one of Mario's original names, "Mr. Video".
- The barrels of the "Fry Guy" flamethrower guns look vaguely like red flower petals while they are obviously named after the fiery boss of Super Mario Bros. 2.
- The cartridges which power the jump-boots (themselves a reference to the Bros.' incredible jumping ability in the games and visually modeled after Thwomps) resemble Bullet Bills.
- Various bars/restaurants are named "Thwomp," "Bullet Bill's" and "Rex."
- A guy is selling Tweeters in hot dog buns.
- Koopa is officially a president in the film, but in Toad's song he snidely refers to him as the "evil 'King' Koopa."
- The "1-up" sounds can be heard in the background during Koopa's conversation with his henchman. They're heard again repeatedly when Daisy tries to find the Mario Brothers.
- Koopa's last dino form before becoming slime, resembles a bit of his game counterpart.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: There's a brief moment when Simon passes another cop in the hallway, who raises his arm in a salute and says "Hail Koopa."
- Never My Fault: Iggy blames Spike for getting the wrong girl, and for forgetting about the meteorite piece.
- Nice Hat: Near the climax of the film, Mario dons a red flat cap and Luigi a green baseball cap.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Koopa makes Iggy and Spike smarter after failing to get the rock several times. This leads to the two joining forces with Mario and Luigi to stop Koopa's plans.
- No Ontological Inertia: The King suddenly turns back to normal without the need of re-evolution as soon as Koopa is defeated.
- Noodle Incident: Iggy and Spike kidnapped the Brooklyn girls (and one from Queens) offscreen because they mistook them for Daisy, with only Daisy and Daniella's kidnappings being seen onscreen.Spike: Wrong again. How many times we got it wrong?
Iggy: You got it wrong 5 times.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Iggy and Spike are as dumb as a sack of rocks but are surprisingly good at kidnapping people, successfully kidnapping the Brooklyn girls, Daniella, and Daisy without anyone noticing.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The de-evolution guns are Super Scopes (the SNES' light gun) painted black. This actually works pretty well, considering the Super Scope's sci-fi design.
- Oh, Crap!: Subtle one for Koopa with Spike's first words after being evolved:Spike (toward Koopa): Ah! Our not-so-benevolent dictator!
- Only the Chosen May Wield: Princess Daisy is the only one who can withstand the force of the meteorite; when Lena uses it to merge the dimensions she's fossilized by its power.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: Princess Daisy wears a meteorite fragment around her neck that she never takes off since it was the only thing left with her when she was left in the human world. The meteorite fragment is the one thing Koopa needs to orchestrate his takeover of our world. Earlier scripts indicate the metallic egg was also necessary for Koopa's plan to merge the dimensions.
- Parental Abandonment: The Marios' parents died when Luigi was very young, leaving Mario to raise him alone.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: As evidenced by the various Vote Koopa posters, Dinohattan was at least officially a Democratic Republic. Unfortunately, Koopa, their current president, managed to remain in office via false elections. King Toadstool and Princess Daisy point toward it originally being a Constitutional Monarchy, suggesting Koopa performed a coup against the ruling house and "reformed" the government to give him complete control. The junior novelization and a deleted scene reveals that Koopa has consistently run against himself for his entire reign — all the candidates have been Koopa with a different title marketing him in a different way to the populace. It was one of many bits of heavy political commentary that were cut from the release.
- Pet the Dog: Even after Lena betrays him, Koopa cares enough about her to release her from arrest once he gets the rock back.
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Inverted. The meteorite that caused the dinosaurs' extinction actually split the world into parallel dimensions, one of which had the dinosaurs continue to thrive and evolve into sentient beings.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: One of the few Mario media that averts it and shows Mario and Luigi actually plumbing.
- Politicians Kiss Babies: Some of Koopa's election posters show him doing this labeling him "Koopa the Sensitive".
- Power Fist: Lena wears brass knuckles for her final outfit, which she uses to shove a man aside by grabbing his face.
- Practically Different Generations: Mario is middle-aged, while Luigi is in his early 20s.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: If you are going to adapt source material that cannot be adapted, then this is necessary. Most of the fantastic elements are given sci-fi trappings, Daisy's name is used instead of Toadstool, and Koopa is given a motivation for needing the princess.
- President Evil: Koopa is largely referred to as President Koopa in the film and his election posters pepper the background of the city. As elaborated on in the junior novelization, the people can vote for anyone in the elections... as long as it's Koopa.
- Product Placement: The Bob-Omb has the Reebok logo on the bottom of its feet.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Luigi and Daisy. Though it wasn't the first time they were paired up, Nintendo wouldn't start consistently Paring the Spares till the 2000s, and even then, this Daisy is more based on Peach than she is the actual Daisy.
- Promotion to Parent: Was apparently the case with Mario and Luigi. Mario, being the older brother, looked after Luigi since he was young.Luigi: Mario here brought me up. He's been my mother my whole life.
- "Psycho" Strings: A comical variation is used as the leitmotif for Iggy and Spike.
- Redemption Promotion: Iggy and Spike, after being made smarter through forced evolution, eventually join up with the Mario Brothers instead. It's implied from their statement to Daisy about being her father's most loyal supporters that their stupidity was probably the result of brainwashing by King Koopa. And you can see it coming a mile away, from the moment Spike comes out of the machine. A deleted scene during the victory celebration implies they might have been faking their loyalty to Koopa in the first place and deliberately set up his overthrow.Spike: Ahh, our not-so-benevolent dictator, as it were!
- Railing Kill: Any time a person is looking away from the railing, they're likely to fall over it.
- Repetitive Name: According to the movie, Mario's full name is actually Mario Mario.Police Officer: Okay, look, how many "Marios" are there between the two of you?
Luigi: There's three. There's Mario Mario and Luigi Mario.
- Ret-Canon: Certain traits made it into the series proper, such as Princess Daisy depicted as a love interest to Luigi and the Mario Brothers' last names.
- Ridiculously Potent Explosive: The Bob-Omb is a teeny-tiny wind-up bomb that realistically would hold about as much explosive as a cherry bomb. People standing on the other side of a city street run in terror when Mario pulls it out and when it goes off it sends Koopa (who is halfway into de-evolving into a Tyrannosaurus Rex) flying several meters.
- Running Gag:
- Koopa ordering pizza, which culminated in a cut scene of the delivery boy tossing the pizza onto Koopa's de-evolved slime.
- Luigi going the wrong way when driving.
- Save the Princess: Mario and Luigi rescue Daisy, Daniella, and the other Brooklyn girls Spike and Iggy kidnapped.
- Scenery Porn: Dinohattan isn't the most beautiful set in the history of film, but its design and construction is so well-thought out and elaborate that you don't even care.
- Seen It All: By the time Daisy introduces Mario and Luigi to her father, who's currently a de-evolved giant fungus, Luigi treats the conversation as perfectly normal and thanks him for his help.
- Shackle Seat Trap: Koopa's devolution chamber has a chair that straps people in and forces them into the machine. Mario and Luigi later use this against Koopa by knocking him into the chair, briefly de-evolving him so they can escape.
- Shipper on Deck: Luigi immediately likes Daisy, but he struggles to ask her out. Mario coaches him through it.
- Shirtless Scene: While the brothers are in the Koopahari Desert, Luigi has his shirt off the majority of the time, providing some fanservice.
- Shout-Out: Two to The Wizard of Oz.
- Upon arriving in the other dimension, Luigi says "I got a feeling we ain't in Brooklyn no more."
- The Thwomp Stompers work by clicking your heels together.
- After being briefly electrocuted, Lena gets a white streak in her hair reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein.
- Sinister Surveillance: Koopa's tower includes an audio-visual communication system, letting him keep tabs on prisoners, issue propaganda to the city, and order pizza.
- Small Role, Big Impact: The taser-wielding granny who briefly steals the meteorite necklace is the main reason the rock keeps changing hands throughout the movie.
- So Much for Stealth: Mario tries to sneak into the room the Brooklyn girls are being held in to rescue them. Daniella spots him, but he puts a finger to his lips and she gets the hint. Then another girl spots him and calls out to him. He sighs in annoyance before jumping down and taking out the guard.
- Sssssnake Talk: Koopa talks like this, though oddly only in his first scene.
- Spikes of Doom:
- The hallways of Koopa's tower are lined with these as a shout-out to the walls in Super Mario Bros. 3.
- Dinohattan's inhabitants wear these as part of their clothing.
- Star Scraper: This is how Dinohattan appears on Koopa's toy globe, surrounded by desert and nothing else.
- The Starscream: Lena eventually becomes this in the second half of the film, when, after a failed attempt to get Koopa to reconsider focusing on Daisy, she decides to betray him and achieve her goals on her own.
- Stating the Simple Solution: When Iggy and Spike report that the Marios are lost in the desert, Koopa immediately asks why they aren't out there holding them off.
- The Stinger: A Japanese video game company is interested in producing a game about... Iggy and Spike.
- Stripped to the Bone: Lena is fossilized by the meteorite's power, ending up as a skeleton.
- Stripperiffic: Some of Lena's outfits, as well as dancers at the Boom Boom bar in a scene that was cut from theatrical release. You can still see them in the background in some scenes.
- Super Soldier: Koopa was attempting to create a new breed of soldiers by transforming the denizens of his universe into exaggerated mutations of their ancestral DNA.
- Terrified of Germs: Koopa. In his first scene, while ranting about ruling a world overwhelmed with fungus and slime, he dunks his hands in mud to sterilize them. When he first meets the Mario brothers, he shakes their hands, but wipes his hand off with tissues afterward; after assaulting Luigi soon afterward, he has a police officer spray his hands with disinfectant. Taken Up to Eleven in a deleted scenenote , where he devolves a lab technician into primordial ooze simply for sneezing in his presence.
- Thwarted Escape: Daisy is able to escape her cell with help from Yoshi, but is recaptured when Koopa uses surveillance cameras and microphones to find her location.
- Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The Goombas are done this way, in the exact opposite of how they looked in the games.
- Title Drop: Seen near the end of the movie.Our Miraculous World Newscaster: I'd call them the Super Mario Bros.!
- Trash the Set: Koopa Square ends up getting wrecked between Koopa's flamethrower and various car crashes.
- Transformation Sequence: After spending the first 2/3 of the movie wearing various outfits that have nothing to do with their traditional video game appearance, the Mario Brothers find red/blue and green/blue jumpsuits in a maintenance locker, followed by a dramatic reveal shot of them in costume, complete with caps and jump-boots.
- Trumplica: King Koopa has many Trump-like elements in terms of his hairstyle and the clothing he wears, plus there's a "Koopa Tower" in Dinohattan. An earlier script had Luigi refer to the completed tower as being like Trump Tower, furthering the connection.
- Two Words: Added Emphasis: Mario uses this trope to emphasize "impossible": " "IM-PROBABLE. UN-LIKELY. But never IM-POSSIBLE."
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Koopa overthrew the King and took over Dinohattan, turning it into a police state overrun with crime and pollution; he's mismanaged the city so badly that the people are running out of food, water, and clean air. Toad even expresses how horrible Koopa's rule is in his "The Villain Sucks" Song, and screams as such in Koopa's face before being put through the Devo Chamber:Toad: What a lousy Kingdom ever since Koopa took over. And YOU, Koopa! You're a lousy leader!
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If Scapelli's illegal construction hadn't unblocked a way through, Koopa wouldn't have been able to get back into our dimension and try to remerge them.
- Utility Belt: Mario and Luigi carry their own tool belts (as they did in the live action segments of the animated series). Mario is attached in a sentimental way to his belt, treating it as a friend. He tries to make this lesson stick with Luigi.Mario: Strap your belt on, kid. We're goin' in!
- Vanilla Edition: The movie has only had three releases in the United States: one on VHS and two on DVD. The first DVD was released in 2003 and features nothing other than the movie and a horrible transfer sourced from the Laserdisc master, complete with non-anamorphic widescreen. The second DVD release came in 2010 and is the same exact movie, just with the logos re-arranged on the packaging. The Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray release finally averted this, having a full restoration and many extras (which makes North American fans all the more furious, since they're stuck with the DVD release).
- Villain World: Dinohattan has been ruled by Koopa for 20 years by the time the Mario Brothers arrive, and in that time he's turned it into a police state that's overusing the world's resources.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: Toad gets himself arrested for singing one. Mojo Nixon, Toad's actor, uploaded an extended version to YouTube.
- Weapon Stomp: Lena steps on the meteorite necklace as Mario and Luigi try to retrieve it.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Koopa plans to invade Earth and subjugate its people and resources for his own species' gain.Lena: All you care about is her.
Koopa: What I care about is the future of our species!
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Quite a few important plot threads are left unresolved and would have been Left Hanging had they not been put on the sidelines by numerous script rewrites and reshoots. Namely, the parallel world is still slowly dying from lack of clean, renewable resources, Toad and innumerable prisoners are still de-evolved, and rival plumbers Mike and Doug never get their comeuppance, with Daisy and her father hoping to eventually set things right. The King remaining a citywide fungus would have been this had Lance Henriksen not cameoed in a reshoot where his character returns to human form after Koopa's defeat. It's also never revealed whether or not Scapelli changed back to human.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In The Stinger, a Japanese game company is interested in developing a game about... Iggy and Spike.
- World-Healing Wave: After Koopa's defeat, the fungus recedes and water returns to Dinohattan.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Spike, after being turned super-intelligent, asks Iggy what the square root of 26,481 is, while delivering the answer immediately: 191. 191 is actually the square root of 36,481. Whether this is the fault of the writers for doing math wrong, the fault of the actor for just messing up the first digit, or actually deliberate (likely to show that Iggy and Spike aren't too intelligent, or just that it hasn't kicked in yet) is up in the air.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Despite Luigi, Daisy, and the Brooklyn girls chasing Lena, none of them do a thing to stop her from trying to merge the dimensions.
- Adaptational Badass: The Marios are drawn less like 1990s Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, and more like badass 2010s action heroes.
- Badass Longcoat: Toad wears a longcoat similar to the Goomba uniform.
- Big Bad: Wart.
- Co-Dragons: The villain is served by a male and female pair.
- Darker and Edgier: So far the sequel is mostly drama and action, with little of the comedy and none of the slapstick heavily used in the film.
- Desert Punk: Much of the story is set in the desert and sees the characters wearing desert-appropriate outfits.
- Fan Sequel: The project began when the SMB Archive staff interviewed the film's writer and the discussion turned to the unproduced sequel.
- Fingerless Gloves: Daisy can be seen wearing these in the story's opening. Mario, Luigi and Toad sport them as well.
- The Multiverse: The Portal Creatures invade the parallel dimension from yet another universe.
- Named by the Adaptation: While the Mushroom King was referred to as Bowser in supplementary materials, he was unnamed in the film. The comic goes with Reznor, a reference to the fortress boss from Super Mario World.
- Portal Door: Daisy accidentally opens one in the ancient Portal-Guardian chamber.
- Word of Dante: Invoked. Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss of the SMB Archive, the sole website devoted to the film, are scripting the story.
- Word of God: Invoked. The story is based off ideas from original writer Parker Bennett, as well as backstory he and partner Terry Runté wrote that didn't make it into the film.