Nintendo has a reputation of being pretty private with their characters. They really don't like to share. But in these past few years, we're seeing Nintendo slowly crawl out of their shell and take a little bit more risks. We saw evidence of this when ever Wreck-it-Ralph was released and just so happened to feature Mario's big baddie himself, Bowser.
This was a great move on Nintendo's part because everyone, young and old, loves Mario and everyone, young and old, loves Disney movies. What better way to partner up than to pair these two things together. But alas, his part was but a mere cameo and he wasn't even given any moments of dialogue. This was just one of the few films where Nintendo allowed their properties to be showcased.
They are, however, being a (little) bit more brave about sharing their properties with other game developers as we've seen a new take on the The Legend of Zelda property whenever Hyrule Warriors was released.
The game was worked on by Omega Force, who are known for their Dynasty Warriors games and Team Ninja who are know for their Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive games. It was a huge show of faith for Nintendo to be so adventurous by partnering up with another company to create something using one Nintendo's most legendary games. We also see something similar to this in the upcoming Skylanders: SuperChargers game and how they have special figurines for both Bowser and Donkey Kong.
Speaking of Donkey Kong, if you are going this weekend to see the newest Adam Sandler movie, Pixels, you're in for a treat by seeing none other than the original, princess-capturing, Mario-hating, barrel-throwing Donkey Kong that gained him his fame in the first place.
This was another moment where you see Nintendo taking some risks by allowing other people to "play with their toys" if you will. What's interesting though is that this partnership almost didn't come to pass and DK may not have even been featured in the film. Check out what director Chris Columbus had to say about it:
“I was excited because the script had a Centipede sequence and a Pac-Man sequence, but what the first draft of the script did not have was Donkey Kong,” Columbus says. “After months and months of meeting with the board of Nintendo they agreed that we were going to treat Donkey Kong with respect and the proper gameplay, which was very important, and bringing Donkey Kong into the film was a slam-dunk for us.”
Ultimately, I'm glad Donkey Kong was able to be featured so prominently in a film. But you can't help but feel the hesitation that Nintendo has about any of their characters.
Why is that?!
I think the source of their hesitation to using their characters on film stems from the terrible 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. movie.
The movie did so bad that it made less than HALF it's budget. Talk about a disappointment. I as a kid loved it of course, but that was before I thought independently and I just liked it because it was the Mario Bros. But looking at it today, you can understand why Nintendo might be so hesitant to do anything with Hollywood anymore. That, on top of the fact that video-game movies just really don't do well.
But this hasn't stopped other companies from trying to put out a good video-game based film and really, ONE of them has to be good right? I mean we've got Michael Fassbender starring in the Assassin's Creed film and then the Doug Jones directed Warcraft movie, so here's to hoping those do well.
So, if all these other companies are still pushing for their video-game properties to be turned into big-budget films, why won't Nintendo take that risk? They need to understand that they have a gold-mine of characters that if handled correctly by people who love these characters and aren't just looking to make a quick buck, could become major Hollywood staple franchises.
Let's take a look at the approaches they could take with their characters, with the focus really only being on Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Star Fox.
The Animated Approach
Just because you are making a movie-adaptation of a character does not mean it has to be live-action.
Mario, in my opinion, was never meant for a live-action depiction, he's a fantasy character who lives in a world where he is literally one of just a handful of human characters (others being Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario, and Waluigi). I'm just worried that if they ever tried to create Mario live-action, it would come off as something like this:
No, you want to handle Mario right on film, you give him to one of two different animation studios: Walt Disney Animation, who are responsible for some of the greatest modern cartoons including Tangled, Wreck-it-Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6. The other studio that I would trust with this property is Pixar who have some really deep, critically-acclaimed films like Up, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and their most recent hit, Inside Out.
This same approach for animation could be applied to Star Fox and Pokemon considering the amount of fantasy applied to each. Although, Pokemon has gotten quite a bit of attention for almost two decades with their Saturday morning cartoons and direct-to-dvd films, I think Star Fox deserves a chance to shine.
Star Fox would be an amazing animated feature as it would have lots of action and plenty of room for any kind of humor whether it was Slippy's slapstick humor (I'm sure kids would love him like the next Olaf) or the sarcastic approach with characters like Falco (who's personally my favorite). Then there's the epic Star Wars styled space battles that could take place, which is really something we've not seen too much of in recent American animation. The other bonus on why all this would work is that people love anthropomorphic animals, it never gets old and it always draws a crowd.
The other series that you could give an animated approach is The Legend of Zelda. This was actually an idea that was pitched by the animators who were behind the TMNT movie that came out in 2007, Imagi Animation Studios. Their pitch definitely looked interesting to say the least.
But I say that if you're going to animate a Legend of Zelda movie, you need to give it that cute, Wind Waker feel to it that sort of brought back the Zelda games for a younger crowd.
I think that this could be a franchise to blow our minds and the minds of our children. There's something so artistic, adorable, and lovable to the Wind Waker design and the fantasy aspect is always a welcome theme since good fantasy films seem to be few and far between and it would be something that both the boys and the girls could enjoy without the animators having to worry about marketing to one demographic or the other.
The Live-Action Approach
Now, The Legend of Zelda is, to me, the only franchise Nintendo has that I could see going either way concerning their approach to the film. As I said above, they could easily go the animated route that could be a fun adventure for the whole family, but the other approach is giving us the true fantasy feel by making it live-action and showing us the darker part of the Zelda universe we all know and love from games like Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.
I believe that following the formula that Peter Jackson did when he shot The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy would be perfect for The Legend of Zelda. I have a vision for how this film would work and I've even written about it before, you can check that link out HERE.
Essentially, my dream for the film is to start off with a trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson with the three main roles (Link, Zelda, and Ganon) going to actors Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mad Max: Fury Road), Elizabeth Olson (Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron), and Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor: The Dark World).
Last up and certainly not least is the franchise, Metroid.
Nintendo's Metroid games are some of the most revered games in Nintendo history, at least the games spanning from the self-titled NES game to the Metroid Prime trilogy that was on the Gamecube and Wii.
The title character, Samus Aran, is overdue for a good portrayal in video games but how awesome would it be to bring this character the justice she deserves on the big screen? Could you imagine someone like Ridley Scott getting their hands on this and really going to town on the sci-fi aspect and giving us a gritty video game movie that would work?
As far as who I'd cast for the lead role, I'd choose Antje Traue, who is no stranger to science-fiction movies considering she's played in Pandorum which I actually really liked. She's also pretty awesome as she was one of the characters to steel the show in Man of Steel, as Faora-Ul.
You take a dose of who she was in Man of Steel, place her in an enviornment similar to where she was in Pandorum, strap a metal suit with an arm canon on her, and give her blonde hair and you have yourself a good Samus Aran.
So, what do you guys think? Do you feel that Nintendo needs to do more on film? Did you like the ideas that I provided? Feel free to share your comments in the comments section. Also, there's obviously a lot of characters, Nintendo or not, that could do well on film (if handled right), what franchise would you like to see and how would you want it handled?
Also, don't forget to vote in the poll!