When Nintendo got back into making films after a decades-long hiatus caused by the disastrous Super Mario Bros. movie, their first attempt was 2019’s Detective Pikachu, a perfectly fine effort accepted by critics and fans alike that confirmed the world was ready for decent video game movies. Since Nintendo won’t stop at just this single off-brand Pokémon adaptation or the upcoming Super Mario animated feature, it’s worth considering which property we’ll see on the big screen next.
In the years since Nintendo’s first foray into movies, fans have done a lot more than just “consider” – they’ve been making their own Nintendo fan films. With filmmaking tools more readily accessible than ever, it feels like we’re entering a golden age of fan works. With Illumination’s Super Mario animated movie set to hit theaters in 2022, we wanted to look back at some of the Nintendo fan films that filled the holes in our hearts before the officially licensed movies start hitting theaters.
6. There Will Be Brawl (Zach Grafton & Matthew Mercer)
There’s a lot about this Super Smash Bros.-themed noir murder mystery/adult dark comedy that hasn’t aged particularly well. But There Will Be Brawl was an influential piece of Wii-era internet culture that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to achieve by reinterpreting Nintendo characters as edgier versions of themselves. It’s also worth checking out if you’re a fan of voice actor and Critical Role host Matthew Mercer, who plays several different characters across the series.
5. Metroid: A Live Action Short Film (Ideas for Hollywood)
Of all Nintendo’s many properties, the Metroid series feels like the easiest to adapt for the big screen. It’s a space adventure with alien pirates; how could you possibly go wrong? Plus, the Metroid lore is fairly straightforward, giving filmmakers an easy template. The YouTube channel Ideas for Hollywood agrees, having put together a well-realized pitch for a Metroid film that shows off how Samus and her suits could work in a physical space.
4. Pokémon: Call to Adventure (Blister Cinema)
Since most video game fan films are working on a limited budget, many of them are designed to build to one big shot or moment in the finale that evokes the underlying feeling of those games, saving their resources for something that matters. Pokémon: Call to Adventure is a great example of that mindset, using its running time to build up to a quintessential Pokémon showdown.
3. Zelda: The Blood Moon (Zane O’Gwyn)
There have been plenty of Zelda fan films in the past, and there will likely be more long after we’re gone. But they mostly take the form of trailers for hypothetical films, opting instead to imply the epic scope of a Legend of Zelda title to make up for a lack of time and budget. The Blood Moon, on the other hand, is more a complete chapter in the never-ending story of Link and Zelda’s reincarnations. More importantly, an elderly version of Link does a sick backflip, certifying this as the greatest live-action Zelda fan film to date.
2. Metroid: The Sky Calls (Rainfall Films)
Unlike the previous Metroid fan film, which used mostly physical props, The Sky Calls opts to go the Iron Man route — a CGI Samus with live-action helmet inserts. This opened up a lot of new spaces for the filmmakers to explore, like Samus’ iconic Morph Ball ability or a heads-up display option for her helmet where she changes her weapons. Although some commenters weren’t completely on board with this portrayal of Samus, it’s hard to deny the cool, intentionally low-fi future aesthetic on display in The Sky Calls.
1. Majora’s Mask: Terrible Fate (EmberLab)
If not for requiring context by virtue of being a prequel to Majora’s Mask, the CGI short Terrible Fate would be a festival-ready short film. Made as a “labor of love,” the prequel follows the Skull Kid and the Happy Mask Salesman before the game kicks off. Terrible Fate is a beautifully animated tribute to one of the best games of all time, one of the rare fan films that supports and improves an existing work. If Nintendo ever decides to release a full-scale Majora’s Mask remake, they should consider licensing this film as the opening cutscene. It’s that good.
And those are our thoughts on the best Nintendo fan films out there! If there are any you think we missed, leave a comment below so other fans can check them out. It’s cool to watch people explore filmmaking through some of their favorite Nintendo franchises, especially when those fan films lead to real opportunities in video games and entertainment. Hopefully someday one of these directors will have the chance to bring their vision for a Nintendo movie to life.