10 merciless Mario re-imaginings

Fans hold up a dark mirror to gaming's most iconic plumber

The 1993 movie

We can’t actually show you the full movie here, and that’s probably for the best. While the Super Mario Bros. movie is, inarguably, a dark, drastic re-imagining of everything that Mario is, it is also fucking horrible.

Above: That’s our Mario!(?)

Whereas the last few entries dealt with dragging Mario out of his comfortable fantasy life to deal with harsh reality, SMB went the opposite route, taking the brothers out of Brooklyn and sending them to a version of the Mushroom Kingdom where humans evolved from dinosaurs and everyone was bad at slapstick. Less a re-interpretation of the Mario mythos than it is an incoherent sci-fi mess, the SMB movie was reportedly the result of a conflict between its directors and producers over whether to make a “mature” sci-fi movie or a kid’s adventure. Coming up somewhere in between, the film had neither the charm of a kid’s movie or the subversiveness of an adult-oriented reboot, and instead gave us a Mushroom Kingdom that was like New York, if New York had been built inside an abandoned cement factory.

The whole thing’s been ripped to YouTube, if you want to hunt for it, but all you’ll get from us is this awful scene, widely recognized as some of the late Dennis Hopper’s most embarrassing work:

The Brothers Mario

Grand Theft Auto IV-made Machinima is all over YouTube, but rarely is it quite so professional as two-part Brothers Mario series. Created by The Game Stationand Country Club Pictures, the shorts feature some impressive directing and music, complete with orchestral versions of familiar Nintendo tunes. Recasting Mario and company as hard-bitten gangsters trying to get up and get rich in the big city, the first short sees the brothers steal a shipment of coins, which draws the anger of crime lord Bowser, who kidnaps Peach by way of retaliation.

After making the first short about a vendetta between Mario and Bowser, the second one introduces Donkey Kong, whose arrival forces the old enemies to work together. It’s also slightly better than the first, if only because it introduces more characters and an original theme song.

There Will Be Brawl

As long as we’re on the topic of Mario and Luigi in gritty crime settings, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up There Will Be Brawl, which is about as dark as Mario (or Smash Bros.) fan films come. Making over seemingly every element of the Mario/Smash mythos into a creepy noir drama, it centers on an especially tired-looking, drug-dealing Luigi and his volatile brother in a corrupt Mushroom Kingdom plagued by crime lords and serial killers. It’s also extremely polished for a web project, and while it’s not exactly funny (unless you can laugh about how ridiculous it is on its face), it’s surprisingly clever. We’ll let the first episode speak for itself:

The People%26rsquo;s Mario

When it comes to grim, severe and brutal, few did it better than Soviet propagandists. So when you’ve got a severe-looking, hammer-swinging Mario against a red background and backed by a patriotic Russian march (Farewell of Slavianka), you know you’re in for either a treat or some of the most tiresome trustafarian horseshit this side of a Che Guevara t-shirt. Luckily, The People’s Mario is the former, as its stylized version of Mario remorselessly crushes the life (and most of the blood) out of the counter-revolutionary lackeys of oppressive monarchist parasite Bowser.


Super Mario Bros.: Jersey Shore

What? You don’t think Mario and his cohorts re-imagined as the cast of Jersey Shore is dark and terrifying? Then we weep for the future.

(All right, we just wanted an excuse to include the work of Dr. Coolsex, a comedy troupe with several other bizarre Mario projects under its belt. This was our favorite.)

May 6, 2011

ClassicRadar: The sexual politics of the Mushroom Kingdom
Who's sleeping with who, why Peach is a slut, and why Mario really needs more self-esteem

Fan filmmakers tackle Mario
When it comes to live action and the Mushroom Kingdom, can YouTube succeed where Hollywood failed?

ClassicRadar: The 16 most awesomely bad videogame movie moments
Hilariously awful scenes from horribly misguided films


After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
We recommend