The blue hedgehog is on his unsteady way to the silver screen, and many fans are still worried. But there’s no reason to despair. The Chronicles of Narnia, His Dark Materials and other fantasy stories were quickly, though often poorly, optioned after the world caught Hobbit Fever back in the early 2000s. But even though the resulting films were bad, they exposed many people to very fine books.
With this in mind, I turn to video game movies. Are we about to see a new wave of adaptations? If so, let us not fret about whether they will be “good” and instead consider the many classic games which might benefit from the boost in visibility a Hollywood blockbuster could provide.
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5. Super Mario Brothers
The most obvious choice as Sonic’s direct competition, Super Mario Brothers follows the trials and tribulations of two plumbers thrust into the role of heroes. Perhaps Paul Giamatti’s bewildered, frantic intensity as Mario could pair with Ansel Elgort’s earnest and cerebral Luigi. Dennis Hopper might voice a Bowser at turns menacing and hilarious.
Editor’s Note: I contacted the author after his first draft to see if he was aware of 1993’s bizarre film adaptation of the game which indeed featured Dennis Hopper as “King Koopa.” He indicated that he was unfamiliar, citing his “strict upbringing.” I have left the preceding for context, and because Paul Giamatti would admittedly be a very good Mario.
Okay, so there was a Super Mario Bros. movie, and it looks like they’re already working on a new one. As a replacement, I guess I’ll suggest the Conan-esque Rygar. Casting for this one is easy: we know Chris Evans can toss a weird disc around, and he just wrapped up his role as Captain America, so? Sorry, I’m still recovering from the knowledge that there was a Mario movie.
4. Street Fighter
The adaptational gymnastics of the 2010 Mortal Kombat webseries suggest the grounded lore of Street Fighter could hold its own as an ensemble-driven film series. A secret tournament, a dictator with possible supernatural powers (Mads Mikkelson as M Bison?), and John Cho as Ryu could create a dynamic to hang a film series on.
Editor’s Note: Again, I explained that there is a Street Fighter movie starring John Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raul Julia in a tragic last performance as M. Bison. The author expressed his apologies, saying “I didn’t catch that one, the family, you know……” I began to feel somewhat uncomfortable and decided not to press the issue.
4. Tuff E Nuff
Alright fine, didn’t like that one? How about Tuff E Nuff? It’s the same game but post-apocalyptic, Fist of the North Star style. Several martial artists take on what’s left of the old hierarchy to tear it down while ruthless warlords try to impose order and rebuild, a nice inversion of other post-apocalyptic stories. Use the original Japanese title Dead Dance though, because trying to fit HEY PUNK! ARE YOU TUFF E NUFF? MASTER THE MOVES TO MASTER ME! on a poster is going to be a graphic design nightmare.
With the “Dark Universe” finally dead and gone after the box office failure and critical disappointment of 2017’s The Mummy, we need something to get our Universal Monsters fix. Castlevania delivers action, familiar monsters, and tongue-in-cheek humor to an audience starved for exactly that. With compelling Romantic tragic hero Alucard as the lead, a movie or series about the torments of immortality and revenge could breathe life into a series with every classic movie monster represented somewhere. Even if it fails on this level, it won’t be worse than 2004’s Van Helsing.
Editor’s Note: The author seemed unaware of Netflix’s anime-inspired Castlevania series, having apparently failed to do basic research. After some correspondence, he submitted the following alternative.
Apparently there’s already a Castlevania series. I’m about halfway through it now, and it’s pretty good! Anyway, I need to find another one. How about Shatterhand, a 1991 NES title about a cop who’s wounded in the line of duty and gets some boss metal arms that let him punch bullets? Altered Carbon demonstrated Netflix could tell a cyberpunk story, and I imagine that’s the perfect service to spin a yarn that’s essentially Robocop with cheaper IP. A regular Joe becomes a cop who can’t be stopped and must choose between serving justice and the word of the law. You could sneak in these weighty issues by beginning with Verhoeven-esque excess and slowly develop something where the main character realizes that he can’t build a perfect world with punching alone.
Few things blend the thrill of discovery and the fear of the unknown as well as science fiction horror. So why not an adaptation of 1993’s first-person masterpiece DOOM, especially hot off the success of the 2016 soft reboot? One of the most famous brands in video games could easily become a viscera-splattered masterpiece, perhaps in the process commenting on American culture’s fascination with violence.
Editor’s Note: One could be excused for having missed 2005’s DOOM adaptation. Upon bringing it up to the author, he vaguely replied that he had missed “a lot of that year.” Further inquiries into the matter were met with an insistence that I “not worry about it” and “just be cool.”
Really? They did DOOM? It’s got as much plot as, like, a Dr. Seuss book. Okay, so how about Crystalis, an NES title about an adventurer gathering artifacts after World War III in a quest to stop a machine from repeating the mistakes of the past? Like Castlevania’s (apparent) adaption, this might be a good candidate for an anime-style series.
1. Super Star Wars
Editor’s Note: At this point I began to wonder if I was the target of some sort of con or hustle. But it was much worse than that. My eyes flashed around the room, my fingers furiously clicking through our correspondence. It had all been right there in front of me the whole time. If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person? There was no Theron Seckington. He was me. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. And in the world I see we are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. We’ll wear leather clothes that will last the rest of our lives. We’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when we look down, we’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.
It’s a good game.