Nintendo is no slouch when it comes to pleasing the general public with content as they’ve been one of the largest names in the video game universe for several decades, but now that success has finally transferred over to cinema. The Super Mario Bros Movie debuted back in early April and the studio-heads at Universal and Illumination held their breath as they waited to see whether or not the movie would draw crowds – they didn’t have to hold their breath for very long. The film became an instant success among critics and at the box office as it has already raked in over $1 billion worldwide making it the most profitable movie based on a video game of all time, as well as the fifth most profitable animated movie of all time, and the current most profitable movie of 2023.
Before the movie released, Nintendo was careful not to comment on any plans for future movies as they committed solely to focusing on The Super Mario Bros Movie being a success. But now that the film has already crossed the billion dollar mark at the box office, it means more sequels are coming. In fact, video game creator and Nintedo director Shigeru Miyamoto recently confirmed that there is absolutely “no doubt” that more adaptions are planned for the future.
But now the question fans will be asking is which Nintendo property will be getting a movie next? The video game conglomerate has dozens upon dozens of properties and characters to choose from and just like with The Super Mario Bros Movie the fan base is already built right in. So, all of that being said, let’s look into which Nintendo characters we’ll hopefully be seeing on the big screen in the near future.
The Legend of Zelda
This one is a no brainer. Behind the Mario Bros and Pokemon (we’ll cover them next) the Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s third largest property with a massive fanbase and established lore. The franchise has had over a dozen games released since the original in 1986 with the most recent game, Tears of the Kingdom, being arguably the most anticipated game release of the year.
The game itself follows the fan-favorite character known as Link as he travels and traverses the kingdom of Hyrule until he’s powerful enough to save the captured Princess Zelda. With the success that the games have faced, there’s no reason that a movie couldn’t achieve the same accomplishments that The Super Mario Bros Movie has, with the only potential speed-bump being that the movie would arguably follow the same plot as the The Super Mario Bros Movie (main character saves a captured princess from a force of evil).
As previously stated, Pokemon is easily Nintendo’s largest property. As a matter of fact, it’s the largest established IP in the entire world with the franchise stretching far beyond video games with several motion pictures over the last two and a half decades. So, logically, it would make sense for Nintendo to want to keep riding that train and quickly get a Pokemon movie into production. Unfortunately, it might not be that simple.
While a Pokemon movie made by Universal and Illumination would undoubtedly be a success, it would cause some potential collision among studios and projects. We already mentioned that Pokemon has created a few movies in the past, including 2019’s Detective Pikachu which has announced that a sequel is in the works with Legendary Pictures. Not only that, but Netflix is also making Pokemon content with plans for a stop-motion anime and a live-action series having been announced. So, while it would be a profitable and logical move for Universal and Illumination to create a Pokemon movie, the timing might not be right and it could be better served to wait a few years before attempting it.
Kirby, Yoshi, Metroid, Star Fox
After the Mario Bros, Pokemon, and The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo still has dozens of potential properties and characters to choose from, but the popularity does drop off significantly after the top 3. That being said, it doesn’t mean that these other properties couldn’t head their own movies as they’ve established that they can easily hold their own when it comes to video game franchises.
One franchise that Nintendo could choose to explore is Yoshi, the green dinosaur-like character – he’s a fan-favorite and has incredibly close ties to the Mario Bros which would allow Universal and Illumination to build on the cinematic world that they already created with The Super Mario Bros Movie. A few other potential, fan-favorite options could be Metroid, Kirby, or even Star Fox as each has built up the reputation to be able to lead their own movie franchise. In fact, while it could be a little controversial and out-there, a movie about one of their more recent games like Animal Crossing could potentially appeal to their younger fan base. That said, since these properties are still on the lesser-known side, it might be smart to hold off on making them until after a Pokemon or Zelda movie, because ultimately they should all be leading up to…
Super Smash Bros
A Super Smash Bros Movie. Let’s be honest, this is what we all are hoping and praying happens, even if it doesn’t come for several years. With the resounding success of The Super Marios Bros Movie, it doesn’t just mean that fans should expect a sequel – it means that Universal and Illumination have created the next cinematic universe. With all of the established IP that Nintendo brings to the table, along with all of the fan-favorite characters that we’ve listed above, it’s only logical that a shared cinematic universe between these characters be the ultimate endgame. And, luckily, Nintendo already has a video game where these characters interact – enter Super Smash Bros.
While not following any direct lore, Super Smash Bros is arguably one of Nintendo’s most popular games of all time with the only attribute being the ability to pit all of Nintendo’s vast variety of characters against each other in melee-style arena-fights… and fans of Nintendo have been begging for a proper cinematic rendition for ages. All of this being said, if this is Nintendo’s ultimate endgame, then a Super Smash Bros movie shouldn’t be coming to theaters anytime soon as properties like The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon should get established movies first (just like Marvel did with the MCU).
Super Mario Bros Spin-Off
Even though fans might be looking to see which property Nintendo brings to the big screen next, the company might choose to just build on the success of The Super Mario Bros Movie and make a spin off based on one of the already established characters. After all, Charlie Day (who voiced Luigi) has already expressed his interest in doing a Luigi spin off movie, admitting that he’d be interested in a Luigi’s Mansion concept. Along with Day expressing his interest in a spin off, Seth Rogen (who voiced Donkey Kong) has commented on how he’d love to do a movie set around the concept of Donkey Kong Island. Last but not least could be a movie following Bowser, especially since we’re currently living in an era where movies and shows about the villains instead of the heroes do resoundingly well. So, while fans might be expecting a movie like Zelda or Pokemon to come next, don’t be surprised if the studio takes the safe route on the way to making more movies and goes with a direct spin off first.
Super Mario Bros Sequel
If a spin off is in the cards, then a direct sequel absolutely is. Again, Nintendo is an incredibly smart company that knows how to appeal to it’s many different fan bases and they probably have a very large, and very long plan for the movies they’re going to be making next. That means that, while movies like Zelda or Pokemon are definitely on their radar and marked for future projects, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those will be the next movies we see them make.
So, with the success that the first film has seen, it wouldn’t be illogical to assume that a direct sequel would be Nintendo’s next move. After all, the Mario Bros are a huge franchise with a vast array of characters that could easily fit into a sequel. In fact, Jack Black (the voice of Bowser) stated that he would love it if the studio would do a sequel with the characters Wario and Warluigi being the villains, and even went so far as to say that he wants actor Pedro Pascal to voice one of said characters. A sequel would also be a great way to bring in more established characters like Yoshi and give them stepping stones to their own solo projects. Either way, regardless of what Nintendo’s next movie will be, it’s safe to say that audiences will be lining up to see it.