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14 Other Nintendo Franchises That Should Be Given The Super Mario Bros. Movie Treatment

Video games unfortunately have a bad reputation in the world of film and TV adaptations. In the past, films like "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" and "Monster Hunter" have overwhelmingly disappointed long-time fans of their respective franchises. However, that seems to be changing in recent years, with blockbuster film franchises like the "Sonic the Hedgehog" movies, Nintendo's own "Detective Pikachu," and HBO's adaptation of the critically acclaimed 2013 game "The Last of Us."

In April 2023, the company behind "Despicable Me" and "The Secret Life of Pets" will be joining the party with "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." Although Nintendo has been hesitant to adapt its projects in recent years after failures like the 1993 "Super Mario Bros." starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, early teasers have fans excited for the promise of a proper Nintendo film adaptation. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" has been in development since 2017, with Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, heavily involved as a co-producer.

If fans are pleased with "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," this could be the start of a potential billion-dollar Nintendo cinematic universe helmed by Illumination. While some of Nintendo's most popular franchises, like "Pokémon," are no strangers to the world of film and TV, there are plenty of other beloved Nintendo series that could receive adaptations if "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is a success. These 14 franchises spanning the developer's past and present would definitely be the ones to get hardcore Nintendo fans the most excited.

Donkey Kong Country

Even before any teasers or sneak peeks were shown of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," talk of expanding its universe was already happening. In September 2021, Nintendo revealed the movie's voice cast, including Chris Pratt as Mario and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach. One surprising casting choice was Seth Rogen as Mario's first-ever nemesis, Donkey Kong. In the movie's official trailer, Donkey Kong appears during a scene where he and Mario throw down in front of an audience of Kongs.

However, only two months after Rogen's casting as Donkey Kong was confirmed, the rumor mill alleged that a solo Donkey Kong film featuring Seth Rogen was in development. This would be an obvious choice to follow up "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," given that Donkey Kong was the origin of Nintendo's iconic red-suited plumber. Donkey Kong originated in his self-titled 1981 arcade game, before transitioning to playable character with the 1994 Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) title "Donkey Kong Country," developed by Rare.

The "Donkey Kong Country" series shows a lot of potential for a Donkey Kong-led project. In fact, the game franchise was adapted into a Canadian TV show on Teletoon, which aired from 1997 to 2000, featuring recurring characters from the games like Funky Kong, Diddy Kong, and the villain King K. Rool. Furthermore, the character of Cranky Kong is already confirmed to be appearing in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" voiced by Fred Armisen, which could lay the groundwork for a "Donkey Kong Country" film.

Luigi's Mansion

One of the more exciting voice castings for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" for fans is Charlie Day as Luigi. For those who know Day from his work in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," or even "The Lego Movie," there's no one better suited to voice Mario's cowardly twin brother. However, where this really excited many fans is the possibility of getting more of Day in spin-off projects, such as a potential film or series based on the fan-favorite "Luigi's Mansion" franchise. 

"Luigi's Mansion" began as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, featuring Luigi exploring a haunted mansion in search of a kidnapped Mario. Luigi encounters ghosts as well as Professor E. Gadd, who aids Luigi in catching the specters. It was one of the most beloved standalone spin-off titles in the "Super Mario" franchise until it finally received a sequel in 2013 with "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" on the Nintendo 3DS. The series has since received a third installment, "Luigi's Mansion 3," on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. 

Given the popularity of both Day and Luigi, it should be relatively easy for a "Luigi's Mansion" movie to be greenlit (pun intended). Even the voice actor himself has expressed interest in a solo Luigi film, telling in an exclusive to ComicBook.com that his son is a fan of "Luigi's Mansion 3" on the Switch. For now, fans will have to enjoy Luigi's spooky adventure in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."


"Punch-Out!!" has a long history with Nintendo, debuting in arcades in 1984 before making its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987 as "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" The game finds players controlling underdog Little Mac as he fights his way through a gauntlet of international boxing champions, including characters like Glass Joe and King Hippo. The series later received a reboot in 2009 for Nintendo Wii and has been dormant ever since, although Little Mac made his debut as a playable fighter in "Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U."

Significantly, in the 1987 NES version, Mario cameos as the referee, counting down the players' time to get back up when they've been knocked out. Although Mario doesn't return in the 2009 reboot, Donkey Kong appears as an opponent during the game's endurance mode, which is unlocked after completing the main story. However, the biggest connection between the "Super Mario" series and "Punch-Out!!" will be in the upcoming Illumination film.

In a cast interview with Fandango, Chris Pratt revealed that characters from the "Punch-Out!!" series cameo in early scenes of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which makes sense considering Little Mac hails from the Bronx, while Mario and Luigi are Brooklyn natives. Additionally, Pratt mentioned that the cameo suggests a future for a "Nintendo cinematic universe." Hopefully, someday that will include "Punch-Out!!," which could be Nintendo's animated take on "Rocky."

The Legend of Zelda

"The Legend of Zelda" is one of Nintendo's biggest and most cinematic franchises. Beginning on the NES in 1986, the "Zelda" series is heavily story-focused, often centering on the swordsman Link attempting to protect the kingdom of Hyrule, including the titular princess, from evil forces. Things really changed for the franchise with the 1998 Nintendo 64 title "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," considered by many to be one of the greatest video games ever made. 

The lore of the "Zelda" universe has only continued to expand in future titles, such as "The Wind Waker" and "Skyward Sword," which could both serve as inspirations for a possible film or series adaptation. However, it'd be likely that Nintendo would take an approach like the Nintendo Switch launch title "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," which somewhat resets the accepted "Zelda" timeline while incorporating many characters and aspects of the franchise's history. Furthermore, the success of "Breath of the Wild" among gaming fans would all but guarantee its success as a film.

However, trying to get a "Zelda" movie made has been no easy feat. In 2015, it was reported that Netflix was developing a "Legend of Zelda" TV series, which would have tried to capitalize on the success of shows like "Game of Thrones." Any series adaptation would have to win over "Zelda" fans, since the last adaptation of the series was the 1989 animated cartoon, which by today's standards is wildly outdated.


When it comes to Nintendo's more narrative-focused franchises, "Metroid" is among one of its most popular and most complicated. Like "The Legend of Zelda," "Metroid" began in 1986 on the NES, centering on bounty hunter Samus Aran's conflicts against the cruel Space Pirates who murdered her family, as well as parasitic creatures known as Metroids. The series received frequent installments throughout the '90s and 2000s, though "Metroid Prime 4" has been in development hell since Nintendo announced it in 2017.

Despite this, the series has remained popular thanks to the "Super Smash Bros." franchise (just ask all the fans who clamored for Samus' rival Ridley to be added as a playable fighter) as well as the recent Switch title "Metroid Dread" in 2021, which harkened back to the franchise's 2D origins. Though the mainline series has been on a hiatus while Nintendo perfects "Metroid Prime 4," it's possible that a film adaptation could also enter development around this time, as there are some pretty big names who want to see it happen.

Notably, "Captain Marvel" star Brie Larson has personally campaigned for a "Metroid" movie where she gets to play Samus. The actress is an avid fan of Nintendo, once dressing up as Samus Aran for Halloween, and saying in 2020, "Nintendo, once again, I would love to do it!" Hopefully, if Illumination ever makes a "Metroid" movie happen, the company can also make Brie Larson's dreams come true.

Star Fox

Of all of Nintendo's biggest franchises, "Star Fox" contains the most characters who seem primed and ready for an animated film adaptation. The series began in 1993 with the SNES title "Star Fox," which was a pioneer in utilizing three-dimensional models with its polygonal art style. In 1997, the series was rebooted on the Nintendo 64 with "Star Fox 64," which included voice acting that shaped the series' main cast: flight team leader Fox McCloud, his fellow pilots Falco, Peppy, and Slippy, as well as antagonists Andross, Pigma, and Wolf.

The story of "Star Fox 64" is beloved by video game fans, though Nintendo opted to re-release it again with "Star Fox 64 3D" on the 3DS, and an additional time with "Star Fox Zero" on Wii U, which got a mixed reception from critics and fans. So many "Star Fox" sequels attempt to reshuffle the series' winning formula, often with divisive results.

A "Star Fox" movie might face the same criticism if Nintendo chose to once again re-hash "Star Fox 64," though it could be an opportunity to tell a story with these characters that may not work as well in a video game setting. There's at least support from some industry professionals, such as Gary Whitta, a story writer for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" who expressed interest in writing a "Star Fox" animated movie in 2020.


It's pretty easy to imagine a company like Illumination helming a "Kirby" film adaptation, especially given the adorable design of the franchise's characters. Kirby was created by "Super Smash Bros." captain Masahiro Sakurai, who explained on his YouTube channel "Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games" that the character was designed to embody the gameplay mechanic of using your enemies, which Kirby does by inhaling them and spitting them back out against other enemies, as well as in later games when he copies their abilities.

Although Sakurai has moved on from the "Kirby" franchise, the games remained a relevant staple of Nintendo's lineup, more recently including "Kirby and the Forgotten Land" on the Nintendo Switch. Despite being very gameplay-focused, the "Kirby" series has enough elements to make up a film adaptation, such as his rival Meta Knight, the greedy King Dedede, or cute antagonists like Marx.

Additionally, "Kirby" has received adaptations before, such as an anime series called "Kirby: Right Back at Ya!," which aired between 2001 and 2003 and was supervised by Sakurai alongside the development of "Super Smash Bros. Melee." It was later dubbed in English and released in the United States on Fox. Despite airing for 100 episodes 20 years ago, the series is still fondly remembered by fans of the "Kirby" franchise." Suffice it to say, a "Kirby" film adaptation by Illumination would definitely have fans of the anime on board, with fans of the game series likely won over by the charm of its titular character. 

Animal Crossing

"Animal Crossing" has always been one of Nintendo's most popular casual franchises, allowing players to experience life in a remote town or island and interact with villagers while making their towns as comfy as possible. Things really went up a notch for the series when the latest installment, "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," was released at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Animal Crossing" quickly became what The New York Times called "a conveniently timed piece of whimsy for gamers" in 2020.

Given the series' popularity, it could be a prime subject for a future Illumination film or series. The games have had no narrative throughline other than the return of characters like Tom Nook, K.K. Slider, Blathers, Kapp'n, and Isabelle, but that looseness could work to Illumination's advantage in crafting the perfect breezy film that could be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Furthermore, the potential of an "Animal Crossing" movie has already been explored.

In 2006, "Gekijōban Dōbutsu no Mori" (which roughly translates to "Animal Forest: The Movie") was a Japanese-exclusive animated film in theaters. The film grossed a modest 1.7 billion yen ($16.216 million), but it was never released outside of Japan. The film premiered following the second "Animal Crossing" title, "Animal Crossing: Wild World" for the Nintendo DS, although the series has greatly increased in popularity since with "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" on the 3DS and the inclusion of playable fighters in the "Super Smash Bros." series.


Most of the fan anticipation for the release of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is due to the heavy involvement of series creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Given the Nintendo veteran's relationship with Illumination, it's possible future adaptations of Nintendo properties could be inspired by some of Miyamoto's other projects. In recent years, Miyamoto has been deeply involved in the development of the "Pikmin" franchise, which he created in the early 2000s for the Nintendo GameCube.

The first two games in the "Pikmin" series center on Captain Olimar, a space explorer who crash-lands on a mysterious planet (implied to be Earth) and befriends the leaderless creatures known as Pikmin, who help him rebuild his spaceship and survive in the unfamiliar environment. The series combined the leisure of the "Animal Crossing" franchise with real-time strategy as Olimar commands the Pikmin while avoiding certain death from the planet's fauna.

Since the "Pikmin" games focus on storytelling, particularly in installments like "Pikmin 3" that centers on a trio of astronauts searching for the missing Olimar, it could likely translate well to an Illumination film with Miyamoto involved. Furthermore, the cute, nonverbal Pikmin would fit right in next to Illumination's mascot, the Minions. With "Pikmin 4" heading to the Nintendo Switch in 2023, the series could potentially become popular enough to be targeted by Illumination for the studio's next Nintendo film.

Kid Icarus

"Kid Icarus" is an NES classic that debuted in 1986, though the series remained quite dormant until its protagonist, the flightless angel Pit, was added into "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" as a playable character. Afterward, director Masahiro Sakurai took his redesigns of Pit and the goddess Palutena from "Brawl" and put them at the center of his next project: "Kid Icarus Uprising" for the Nintendo 3DS, a narrative-driven shooter that finds Pit representing Palutena's army in a war against the forces of the Underworld.

The game's story, written by Sakurai himself, has been praised by many critics. This single installment in the series not only revitalized the franchise but imbued it with characters and themes that would translate beautifully into an animated film or TV series. Nintendo knows this all too well, and the company released several animated shorts coinciding with the release of the 3DS title.

Among them includes "Palutena's Revolting Dinner," produced by the animation studio Shaft, which offered fans a glimpse of what a "Kid Icarus" anime would be like. Another, "Medusa's Revenge," provides the backstory to "Kid Icarus Uprising" with an action-packed view of Pit and Palutena's initial conflict with Medusa. These shorts show that the strength of "Kid Icarus" lies in its storytelling, making it a prime choice for Illumination to turn into an animated film. 

Fire Emblem

In the west, most people know "Fire Emblem" through the "Super Smash Bros." franchise, with characters like Marth, Roy, and Ike being playable, despite the franchise's lack of popularity outside Japan. That all changed with the 3DS title "Fire Emblem Awakening," which the developers have credited with reviving the franchise due to its success overseas. "Awakening" captured something that many other Nintendo franchises haven't: a compelling, original story filled with sympathetic characters that audiences can't stop revisiting.

The story of "Fire Emblem Awakening" revolves around a war between the kingdoms of Ylisse and Plegia, led by the soldier Chrom — voiced by "Critical Role" star Matthew Mercer. Along the way, Chrom encounters a mysterious swordsman named Marth, who turns out to be his future daughter, Lucina, in disguise, having traveled into the past to prevent her father's terrible fate. The strategy RPG finds players gathering an army to take on the Plegian army, uncovering twists and turns along the way.

Although "Fire Emblem Awakening" features characters and storylines that bear no connection to the rest of the "Fire Emblem" franchise, including future titles, its popularity and concise storytelling make it perhaps the best contender to represent the series in an animated film. The game's cinematic cutscenes already promise so much for a potential "Fire Emblem" feature film or series, perhaps giving Illumination the chance to expand on the story past the point where "Awakening" ends.


RPGs are known for their focus on storytelling and characters, though few are as legendary on both accounts as "EarthBound," the second installment in the short-lived "Mother" franchise. Released in 1994 for the SNES, it is considered one of the most influential RPGs in video game history, despite bombing commercially due to a confusing American marketing campaign. As Matt Gardner described for Forbes, it was protagonist Ness' inclusion in the Nintendo 64 title "Super Smash Bros." that "put ['EarthBound'] on the radar for people like me, living in Europe, which hadn't even heard of the original release."

Nowadays, people view "EarthBound" with respect and reverence for its originality. The game follows Ness, a boy living in the town of Onett, who is tasked with preventing an alien entity named Giygas from consuming the world with hatred. Ness goes on a journey through a wonderfully absurd universe, gathering allies and eventually overpowering Giygas with his own humanity. Along the way, he encounters insects from the future, traveling musicians, and traitorous neighbors. 

Although "EarthBound" is still highly regarded by fans and industry professionals, the series has remained dormant since the Japan-only "Mother 3." Perhaps, with a better marketing campaign, an animated "EarthBound" movie would revive the franchise, which still remains a strong representative in the "Super Smash Bros." series. At the very least, the engaging story is already there, waiting to be mined and adapted for a wider audience, which Illumination could certainly achieve.


"Splatoon" is a more recent addition to Nintendo's video game canon, originating on the Wii U in 2015. The series centers on players controlling squid-human hybrids known as Inklings, who engage in online turf wars against teams of opposing colors. It's Nintendo's counterpart of massive multiplayer online games like "Overwatch" and "Fortnite" (which "Splatoon" predates), with an additional single-player campaign centered on battling the Inklings' long-time rivals, Octolings. However, the multiplayer aspect of "Splatoon" is where the game really shines, and as IGN put it, the series "has also carved a space for itself in the competitive scene that Nintendo supports."

"Splatoon" was followed up by a sequel in 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, as well as a third installment in 2022, with each installment accruing more and more sales and popularity thanks to its active online community and esports presence. Only a few years since the franchise first debuted, "Splatoon" has earned a playable character in "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate," live concerts from its animated characters, and sales that overperform other fan-favorite Nintendo titles like "Luigi's Mansion 3" and "Kirby and the Forgotten Land," though it's yet to top series like "Mario Kart."

It'd be no surprise if Illumination targeted this popular and, more importantly, fresh Nintendo franchise for an animated feature. Though it may be a challenge to translate its lack of narrative and turf war gameplay to a feature film, this could potentially be Illumination's attempt at a kid-friendly war movie. One thing is certain: The "Splatoon" movie would have a stellar soundtrack.

Super Smash Bros.

One thing every franchise on this list has in common is playable representation in the iconic "Super Smash Bros." franchise. Beginning in 1999 with the Nintendo 64 title "Super Smash Bros.," the series centers on Nintendo all-stars (as well as plenty of third-party faces) battling it out in a fighting game arena. The series has continued onto every mainline Nintendo console, most recently with 2018's "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate," which celebrates its series' history by including every playable character from the franchise's past, as well as iconic characters like Sora and Banjo-Kazooie.

Furthermore, the "Super Smash Bros." series has already incorporated storytelling that blends together these iconic characters into one shared universe. The single-player mode of "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," titled "The Subspace Emissary," follows Nintendo's characters coming together to save one another from a mysterious evil force known as Tabuu, who is taking over their world by plunging them into an alternate dimension known as Subspace. "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" also contains a single-player narrative in "World of Light," though it's less cinematic than the one in "Brawl."

With "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" on the horizon, fans will be eagerly hoping Illumination can pull off a proper adaptation of Nintendo's most iconic character, Mario, with the hopes the film will someday lead to the biggest video game movie crossover of all time. If "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is Illumination's "Iron Man," a "Super Smash Bros." movie would be its "Avengers."