I’ve been a Nintendo fan my whole life. Mario, Link, Samus, Kirby, and Donkey Kong were my childhood. These are characters with stories that have always interested me. With Mario getting an animated film and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu launching next year, it got me thinking. Nintendo owns so many IPs that deserve the film treatment.
Mario and Pokémon are two properties that are obvious choices for a film. Mario is no stranger to the silver screen. The year 1993’s Super Mario Bros. was a critical and financial failure that didn’t even follow the source material closely. It was one of many video game adaptations that fell flat. Studios have learned a lot in the past two decades. People won’t just flock to a film because of the name alone. Shigeru Miyamoto’s involvement in the animated Mario film ensures that it will feel more like the game, an aspect many adaptations fail to achieve.
Actors and actresses are gamers too
With Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, it feels like an authentic Pokémon experience that appeals to all ages. Taking iconic characters and bringing them into a new medium is a step in the right direction. When you have actors/actresses that want to portray characters, it’s best to work with them. Henry Cavill is a fan of The Witcher. Now, the actor is playing Geralt. It’s great to see someone passionate about the source material front and center. A few weeks ago, Brie Larson dressed as Zero Suit Samus for Halloween. The Oscar-winning actress wants to play Samus and is an avid Nintendo fan. The company should seek out Larson and come up with a film adaptation of Metroid.
.@brielarson dressing up as Samus Aran for Halloween is as close as we're going to get to a Metroid movie, isn't it?
— Simon Hernandez-Arthur (@SimonHernandez) November 1, 2018
Nintendo has diverse franchises
One of Nintendo’s most prevalent franchises is The Legend of Zelda. The iconic series is full of adventure, memorable characters, intense set pieces, luscious landscapes, and terrifying creatures. In other words, The Legend of Zelda would make a perfect movie. Think a mixture of Lord of the Rings and Gladiator. Metroid is another fan-favorite, but not as well-known as Zelda. A big screen adaptation of Samus’s adventures could be a sci-fi horror film with a darker tone, unlike other Nintendo games. Studios could also make films based on Fire Emblem, Kid Icarus, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong. From children’s movies to more adult fare, Nintendo can cater to a wide demographic.
Films may lead viewers to video games
My parents play video games, but they are not well-versed in a lot of franchises. After watching Resident Evil, my dad became interested in the games. He watched me play the 2002 remake and was fascinated by it. When a video game adaptation is enjoyable, it may convince people to seek out the source material. Imagine Nintendo releasing a film based on a lesser known franchise. What if that gets someone to buy a Switch and a game from that franchise? Situations like this would be beneficial to not only Nintendo but the movie studio as well. All it takes is one instance to get a foot through the door.
Nintendo and film: Breaking the mold
Let’s be honest — video game films suck. None of them are particularly good, and the ones I enjoy are guilty pleasures. Resident Evil is mediocre at best, Silent Hill is atmospheric, and Need for Speed is cheesy fun. We’ve seen some improvements with Tomb Raider and Rampage, but reception is still mixed. The latter is the highest rated video game film on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 53%. This means that the other 45 theatrically released video game adaptations scored even worse, with Tekken sitting at a whopping zero percent.
Nintendo is in a position to do something different. The company’s two biggest franchises will be hitting the big screen in the future. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is garnering a lot of buzz, and Mario is being handled by Illumination Studios, a company with an excellent track record, and overseen by Miyamoto. Nintendo has been reluctant to bring its IP to film over the years, but something is changing. As a fan of the company and films, I’m very optimistic that we’ll finally see wonderful adaptations in the theater.
The question is — will Nintendo continue to turn more of its franchises into films? With guaranteed moneymakers in these two upcoming projects, I think Nintendo would be crazy not to keep experimenting with film. I just hope they take some risks with what IPs get the spotlight because there are so many deserving characters outside of the popular ones that need some time to shine.