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If The Super Mario Bros. Movie Spawns A Sequel, There's Only One Game It Should Look To For Inspiration

Despite Chris Pratt's most boring efforts, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is going rake in some serious coin. It doesn't take a box office wizard to predict how a joint effort between Nintendo and Illumination will lead to butts in seats. The nostalgia connected to everyone's favorite plumber alone would be enough to draw a crowd but in the hands of the studio which created the Minions, an intellectual property somehow chemically constructed to both mesmerize and infuriate, even the non-gamer crowd will flock in — if only to distract their children from saying "banana" a thousand times a day. Have we mentioned that the Minions (and their language) are infuriating?

Long story short, expect "Super Mario Bros." to do really, really well. Nintendo and Illumination seem to be expecting the same thing because unconfirmed reports suggest that Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) is primed to receive a spin-off movie after his adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom goes live. Should that prove true, we might be witnessing the birth of a new world of animation in real time. The two studios could be laying the groundwork for a "Super Smash Bros." cinematic universe, where Mario (Pratt, unfortunately) and Link ("The Legend of Zelda") and Samus Aran ("Metroid") can exist in the same space.

But Warner Bros. and DC have long since proved how disastrous it can be to dive straight into the major crossover event. Spin-offs aside, the truth is that before Nintendo and Illumination can launch an "Avengers" level event, they have to develop their own equivalent to "Iron Man 2." And if the two studios want to avoid retreading the familiar "save the princess" plot while still building towards a larger universe, well, we've got a solid game recommendation for the perfect narrative inspiration.

Mario's competitive streak knows no loyalty

Even if all the "Bowser kidnaps Peach" plots are excised, there are actually quite a few Mario games left over. The "Paper Mario" series, for instance, features a more robust and layered story. That said, its charm is intrinsically tied to its aesthetic, which wouldn't really gel with 3D animation. There are also promising genre entries, like "Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker," the "WarioWare" series, and the "Luigi's Mansion" series but none of them focus on Mario, which is kind of the whole point of a "Super Mario Bros." sequel (though there's excellent spin-off potential in plenty of these Nintendo franchises). 

Here's an idea, though: has anyone ever noticed how much Mario seems to enjoy sports?

Seriously, Nintendo's brightest star spends as much time on the tennis court as he does in the trenches, if not more. And it's not just tennis, either, it's golf and baseball and soccer, too. It's obstacle courses and board games and Go Kart racing and really just anything that isn't plumbing. And Mario's love for competition knows no alliance because he's just as willing humiliate Yoshi in a brutal round of tug-of-war as he is to co-pilot a paddleboat with Dry Bones. These games are so politically homogenized that fans created a metanarrative which suggests the whole kidnapping and conquest thing is just to keep up appearances between kingdoms.

Any sequel to "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" should latch onto the Jackbox concept with intense fervor and there's one series of Mario-themed sports games that would allow Nintendo and Illumination to do just that while also introducing a new (but familiar, that's important) addition to the "Super Smash Bros." cinematic universe: The "Mario & Sonic" series.

Sonic + Mario = infinite possibilities

No, seriously. The "Mario & Sonic" series sees the two iconic studio mascots, along with their respective cast of characters (including villains), compete in the pinnacle of sporting events — an honest-to-god Olympics. Archery, snowboarding, pole vaulting, if either the Winter or Summer Olympics have done it, then so have Mario and Sonic. 

Admittedly, these games also feature zero plot, which is arguably a pretty big obstacle. But they do feature infinite potential. Consider how "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" blends aspects from a number of different games, even some from the "Mario Kart" series. Donkey Kong isn't necessarily a Mario character — he's got his own franchise — but he's present. In that same vein, Sonic isn't even Nintendo's property, Sega just rents him out. So before going any further, let's make one thing crystal clear. This pitch only works if Paramount agrees to rent out their version of Sonic (Ben Schwartz). Anything less would be viewed through the same lens as Ugly Sonic (Tim Robinson) in "Chip n' Dale: Rescue Rangers," and one Ugly Sonic is more than enough to be getting on with, thank you. Is it likely that Paramount would be onboard for something like this? Probably not. The journey that led to Marvel and Sony co-parenting "Spider-Man" is hilariously non-repeatable. For now, though, let's pretend.

Assuming that all studios involved are of one mind, the "Mario & Sonic" series could be used as a jumping-off point for explosive story implications. Remember, Sonic's own franchise already established that the golden rings function as a portal between worlds. Getting the Blue Blur to the Mushroom Kingdom would almost be too easy. Their respective animation styles even match! 

A (very loose) pitch for an impossible Sonic and Mario movie

Following the events of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," Mario and Luigi (Charlie Day) decide to stick around the Mushroom Kingdom. While they're better adjusted to the wacky world than once they were, the brothers miss home. To remedy this, Mario proposes an idea. He suggests to Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) that she experience some of the games he used to play back home. Naturally, Peach is down, and so the Mario brothers attempt to teach Toad (Keegan Michael-Key) and the rest of their new friends how to play sports. What ensues is pure chaos. Toad can't wield a tennis racket without toppling over. Yoshi probably eats a soccer ball. The shenanigans practically write themselves.

Just as Mario is getting into the groove, Sonic shows up. There doesn't have to be much justification, here. He's exploring the power of the rings with his buddy, Tails (Colleen O'Shaugnessy) maybe. Regardless of reason, he immediately recognizes whatever sport is being played and begs to join. Suddenly, Mario has legitimate competition. What's more, Bowser (Jack Black) catches wind of what's going on, too. Since he doesn't have a lot of friends, what with being an evil dictator and all, he disguises his desire for companionship as a thirst for revenge, a façade that slowly falls apart as he joins the games. This story doesn't really need an antagonist, just character conflict that gets resolved — or exacerbate — by the natural tension and camaraderie that comes with competition. And, at the end, just cart Sonic back to his universe via another magic ring. 

In summary: the "Super Mario Bros." sequel should be a campy sports flick that blows up the scope of Nintendo's cinematic ambition. Honestly, it's what we deserve.