The Big Picture
- ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ is a colorful and homage-filled adaptation that took Nintendo 30 years to recover from its failed 1993 adaptation.
- The movie is packed with Easter eggs and references to Nintendo franchises and characters, including Punch-Out, Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong, Game & Watch, and Super Mario World.
- Throughout the film, there are nods to beloved Nintendo games, such as Super Mario Galaxy, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario 64, Luigi’s Mansion, and Mario Kart.
It took Nintendo thirty years to recover from 1993’s failed Super Mario adaptation, but The Super Mario Bros. Movie is finally out and on Peacock to give fans exactly what they want. Sure, the movie’s story might put spectacle above character growth, but that doesn’t prevent Illumination from bringing the Mushroom Kingdom to life as we have never seen before. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is bright, colorful, and filled to the brink with Easter eggs and references that pay homage to more than four decades of Super Mario games.
Additionally, the movie also finds clever ways to nod at other beloved Nintendo properties, which we surely hope will come to theaters in the near future. There’s much to unpack regarding The Super Mario Bros. Movie Easter eggs and references, so we’ll break down everything hidden in Nintendo and Illumination’s film.
Nintendo Owns Brooklyn
When The Super Mario Bros. Movie begins, Mario and Luigi are still living in Brooklyn, unaware there’s a magic kingdom populated by living mushrooms and terrifying turtles. That doesn’t mean this section of the movie isn’t filled with Easter eggs since we can see Nintendo’s influence everywhere we look.
The movie begins at the Punch-Out Pizzeria, a fictional place that nods at the Punch-Out!! gaming franchise. Inside the pizzeria, we can see framed photos of several fighters from multiple Punch-Out games, but there’s also a picture of a duck flying from the grass that references Duck Hunt, the classic NES game in which we used a laser gun to shoot at our TV screen. The pizzeria also has a “Jump Man” arcade machine which spoofs 1981’s Donkey Kong, the first game ever to feature Mario, who still didn’t have a name and was called Jump Man. Playing in the arcade machine is Giuseppe, an energetic character dubbed by Charles Martinet, who’s the voice of Mario and Luigi in the video games.
Still inside Punch-Out Pizzeria, we find out that Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) and Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day) have quit working at a construction company led by Spike (voiced by Sebastian Maniscalco). This character is no one other than Foreman Spike, a villain in the Wrecking Crew game franchise, in which Mario is the hero. The scene also shows Mario and Luigi’s commercial on a TV, in which they are seen flying with capes just like in 1990’s Super Mario World, where grabbing a Feather power-up grants the player limited gliding abilities. That’s not all, as when Luigi’s phone rings, the ringtone is the GameCube theme.
Leaving Punch-Out Pizzeria and walking around Brooklyn, fans can also spot the Game & Watch guy on a truck. There’s also a Castle Burger joint shaped like the castles of 1985’s Super Mario Bros. The construction zone Mario and Luigi traverse also resembles the first stage of the game that would cement platforming as a video game genre.
In other scenes, we can still see Nintendo’s influence in Brooklyn. For instance, there’s a “Chasse au Canard” French restaurant that pays homage to Duck Hunt when Mario and Luigi go to the sewers. And the person giving an interview to say the Brooklyn flooding is under control is Mayor Pauline, who got kidnapped by Donkey Kong in the 1981 game and has recently gone through a revival thanks to 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey, where she became Mayor of New Kong City. At the movie’s end, when Mario and Luigi fight Bowser (voiced by Jack Black) in Brooklyn, we can also see a car wash inspired by 1984’s Balloon Fight. And when Mario and Luigi are greeted by a crowd of Brooklyn civilians after they win the fight, Nintendo’s late president Satoru Iwata is hiding among the other people.
Mario and Luigi’s home is also filled with Easter eggs and references. For starters, the heroes’ father is also voiced by Charles Martinet, which is a touching recognition of how the voice actor helped create both characters. Inside the brother’s room, Mario is also seen playing 1986’s Kid Icarus, a platformer inspired by Greek mythology. Over his TV, Mario and Luigi also have a model of the battleship of the Star Fox franchise. And behind Mario’s bed, we can see a Falcon poster that nods at the hero of the F-Zero franchise.
When Mario and Luigi receive a call from their first client, they go to an Easter egg-filled house. Inside the house, there’s a painting of the dog who recovers the ducks you shoot in Duck Hunt. There’s also a glass statue of a Pikmin, the curious creatures that name the real-time strategy franchise of the same name. And the owner of the house is seen reading a book named “Galaxy,” a nod to 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy.
Secrets in the Mushroom Kingdom
As soon as Mario and Luigi enter the sewers that’ll take them to Mushroom Kingdom, we can hear the theme song of Super Mario Bros.’s “World 1-2,” one of the most beloved songs in the gaming franchise. The classic Super Mario theme also plays as soon as Mario sees the Mushroom Kingdom for the first time. And while we are talking about music, the song that plays inside Peach’s castle is the same song we hear in 1996’s Super Mario 64, the game that established how the castle looks.
While walking through the streets of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario passes by a Crazy Cap Store, which was introduced in Super Mario Odyssey. There’s also an antique shop where we can see the Boomerang Flower from 2011’s Super Mario 3D Land, the Music Box from 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 3, and the pixilated hammer Jump Man uses in 1981’s Donkey Kong.
When Mario gets to Peach’s castle, the guards say the princess is in another castle, which is exactly the message players received when they finish a world in the first Super Mario Bros.
Inside the castle, we can see paintings representing the levels of Super Mario 64, which is fitting since the player chooses levels by jumping inside the paintings in that game. The map in the middle of Peach’s throne room also represents classic franchise locations, such as Yoshi’s Island and a desert inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3 sand levels. Finally, during the training montage, Peach floats to the challenge course just like she did in 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 2, a movement that because a staple for the character in every other game. The training montage also serves as the official introduction of the Super Shroom, a power-up that makes Mario grow and become stronger.
Finally, when Mario, Luigi, and Toad (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) travel to Kong Island, they pass through Yoshi’s Island, where we see a herd of Yoshis from every color but green. The troop also walks through the “Sand Kingdom,” one of the largest levels in Super Mario Odyssey. This journey also serves for Peach to show the powers of the Fire Flower power-up, which is part of the franchise since Super Mario Bros.
Luigi’s Mansion and Bowser’s Floating Island
As soon as Luigi wakes up in the dark lands, we can hear the theme of Luigi’s Mansion, the soft horror franchise where Green Mario is the star. He also plays with a faulty flashlight, another nod to the Luigi’s Mansion games. And while Mario and Luigi use their iconic hats as work uniforms, we get a flashback where we see the classic design of Baby Mario and Baby Luigi wearing the same hats, just like they first did in 1995’s Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.
Bowser’s floating fortress comes from 2000’s Paper Mario, the first game to feature what is now a classic location in the Super Mario franchise. In the prison of the floating island, there’s a Lumen, the living star introduced in Super Mario Galaxy. And when Bowser plays the piano, we can see the musical instrument belongs to Ludwig von Koopa, a member of the Koopa family introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3. Oh, by the way, the music he plays with Kamek (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) is once again Super Mario Bros.’s “World 1-2.”
Monkey Business on Kong Island
As soon as Donkey Kong (voiced by Seth Rogen) steps into the arena, we hear the “DK Rap” song that serves as the intro for 1999’s Donkey Kong 64. In the stands around the arena, we also get a close-up look at DK’s brother Diddy Kong, who debuted in 1994’s Donkey Kong Country. Diddy’s girlfriend Dixie Kong, who first appeared in 1995’s Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest, is also by his side. Also coming from Donkey Kong Country 2 is Swanky Kong, the mustachioed entrepreneur of the Kong family who’s also in the crowd. Another member of the monkey crowd is Chunky Kong, a playable character of Donkey Kong 64. And when the Kongs jump on karts and go to war, we can also identify fan-favorite transporting specialist Funky Kong, who debuted in Donkey Kong Country, and Kiddy Kong, one of the heroes of 1996’s Donkey Kong Country 3.
During the fight in the Kong Island Arena, we see the introduction of two more power-ups. First, Mario eats a Mini Mushroom, first appearing in 2002’s Mario Party 4. This power-up shrinks the user. Then, there’s the Cat Suit, a form introduced in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World that is activated by collecting a Golden Bell. Finally, when Cranky Kong (voiced by Fred Armisen) summons the heroes to DK’s house, the cabin is modeled after his Donkey Kong Country home.
Let’s Play Mario Kart
When Mario, Peach and Toad have to choose how to build their carts, the tools used to choose each piece resembles the selection screen of 2014’s Mario Kart 8. Mario Kart 8 also introduced the antigravity wheels we see being used in the chase sequence, while the glider was introduced by 2011’s Mario Kart 7. Of course, the majority of karting scenes happen in the “Rainbow Road,” a level that’s present in every Mario Kart game. During the chase sequence, we also see the drivers using classic Mario Kart items, such as Bananas, Green Shells, Bullet Bills, and even the terrifying Blue Shell, which in The Super Mario Bros. Movie becomes an elite soldier of Bowser’s army. Mario can also be seen drifting during the chase sequence to gain a booster just like players do in Mario Kart games.
At the end of the main karting sequel, we see Bowser’s minions kidnapping the Kongs while driving Clown Copters, the same vehicle Bowser first used during the final boss fight in Super Mario World. Mario and DK are also swallowed by a Maw-Ray, the giant eel introduced in Super Mario 64. When they escape, they fly on a barrel, directly referencing Donkey Kong Country’s gameplay.
The Marriage and the Final Battle
While getting ready for his marriage to Peach, Bowser wears the same white top hat he has in Super Mario Odyssey. Among the guest of the marriage is King Boo, the main villain of the Luigi’s Mansion franchise. Another guest of honor is King Bomb-Omb, the first boss of Super Mario 64.
The marriage sequel introduces two other power-ups. First, Peach uses an Ice Flower, which was strangely introduced in the 1992’s Volume 5 of the Super Mario-kun manga series. Then, Mario grabs a Tanooki Suit, which allows him to fly after he grabs a Super Leaf, coming from Super Mario Bros. 3. The final power-up Mario and Luigi use is the Invincibility Star, which allows them to fight Browser’s army in the Brooklyn battle. The final blow on Bowser is also given after they grab the villain’s tail, spin his body, and throw them far away – a move that became famous during the boss battles of Super Mario 64.