The Super Mario Bros Movie: all the best Easter Eggs, cameos, and Nintendo jokes
A Super Mario Bros. Movie was always going to be strewn with Mario Easter Eggs. Particularly since it got an Easter release. So these are our favorite gaming jokes and Nintendo references in the movie.
With Mario voice actor Chris Pratt teasing the beginning of a Nintendo Cinematic Universe, it’s not just Mario stuff you need to keep an eye out for when watching the new movie.
Other Nintendo titles get nods, too, alongside more oblique references related to the gaming giant – deep cuts and all.
So without further ado, let’s dive into our super-fruitful hunt for the best Nintendo and Mario Easter Eggs we could find in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Did you catch the Jumpman arcade game in the movie? Jumpman is an alternate name for Mario, and it’s what he was known as in his debut video game appearance in Donkey Kong in 1981. By the time the trusty Italian plumber returned to action in 1982’s Donkey Kong Jr, he’d been given the name Mario.
The Mario franchise referenced the name in a single-player Donkey Kong minigame – it was called Jump, Man – in Mario Party 7.
In 1983, a platform game called Jumpman was released by Epyx, originally for Atari. We can presume it was jumping off the success of the Nintendo character.
The film introduces a character called Spike as the brothers’ boss, who is hostile to Mario and Luigi. He’s dressed in Wrecking Crew-branded garb.
Spike, or Foreman Spike, is an enemy of Mario and Luigi’s from the games. He is the foreman of the demolition site where the brothers work in 1985 release, Wrecking Crew. Spike’s raison d’être is to impede his nemeses’ progress.
Foreman Spike has appeared in several Mario video games, and is a fan favourite – and makes a very welcome cameo here. He’s voiced by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie has a scene in which Mario and Luigi are eating dinner with their family. It might freak you out to see the brothers without their gloves while they dine, since they’re always wearing them in the games. Aren’t they?
Charlie Day, who voices Luigi in the film, told us that they remove their gloves in order to avoid getting spaghetti sauce on them. They’re pure white, after all. Narratively, it makes sense but it also gets us thinking about when we might have seen the pair gloveless in the games – if at all.
Well, we have – and consequently Mario and Luigi’s ungloved hands in the movie make for one (or four?) of our favourite Easter eggs.
While both brothers wear them in almost every appearance, there are some games, including Wrecking Crew, where the gloves are absent. In Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga we see Mario fresh out of the shower, hands unsheathed. Similarly, in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario’s boxer shorts get-up means he’s also seen gloveless. In Luigi’s Mansion, meanwhile, Mario loses a glove and Luigi must search for it.
If you’re looking for a Luigi example, look to Mario Strikers, where Luigi’s hands can be seen at least partially ungloved.
Of course Mario owns an original NES. How very meta. The NES that the US knows is the blocky grey box – and it’s the one Mario is seen playing in the movie. Nintendo fans will love this as one of the movie’s most retro Easter Eggs. The NES was released to the American market in 1985.
But this wasn’t the first ever model of the console. It existed before that, in 1983 in Japan, and was known as the Famicom – a portmanteau of Family Computer. That model was a red and white version, with compartments either side in which to hold the controllers when not in use.
The NES became one of the best-selling video game consoles of its time, and helped rejuvenate the US gaming industry after the 1983 crash.
If you know your French, you might notice a sneaky little Easter Egg in the background of one of the Brooklyn locations in the movie. A shop unit has the sign Chasse au Canard – which translates as Duck Hunt. If you’re hunting Easter Eggs (or should we say oeufs de Pâques) this one’s a winner. It’s one of the easiest to miss.
Duck Hunt is a Nintendo shooter game which first released in 1984 on the Famicom in Japan, and as an arcade game in the US, before it found itself a launch game for the NES in North America in 1985.
Going Cheep Cheep
When Toad is whipping Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom, among the many game elements we see is a Cheep Cheep. This one is in a bag of water like a fairground fish, and he doesn’t look too happy about it.
Cheep Cheeps are pufferfish, first appearing in Super Mario Bros.’ underwater levels. Cheep Cheeps are not Mario’s friend – watch his eyes narrow in the clip as Mario walks past. In the games, Cheep Cheeps generally use a jumping attack on him. In Super Mario Odyssey, Mario can capture Cheep Cheeps which gives him fast swimming abilities, and the ability to breathe underwater.
Ludwig von Koopa piano
This one’s another well-hidden Mario Easter egg. Bowser aka King Koopa is a brilliant musician in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Leaning into Jack Black’s musical skills, as the actor who voices him, is a smart move. But if you look closely at Bowser’s grand piano, on which he performs his compositions, you’ll see it’s badged with an interesting name.
Famous manufacturers of pianos include Steinway & Sons, Yamaha, and C. Bechstein, to name three. But Bowser’s piano appears to have been made by one Ludwig von Koopa – whose name is a play on famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
In video game lore, Ludwig von Koopa is the eldest of the Koopalings aka Bowser’s Minions. These seven siblings lead the Koopa Troop under Bowser, with Ludwig Bowser’s second in command.
Ludwig von Koopa is known for his intelligence – which could explain how he’s able to craft, with precision, a grand piano, and presumably run a successful business manufacturing them too. We’re here for the Ludwig von Koopa spin-off.
Cranky Kong makes an appearance in the film as the father of Seth Rogen’s Donkey Kong. In Nintendo lore, Cranky Kong is the current Donkey Kong’s grandfather. He’s also the original Donkey Kong, star of the 1981 game.
This revelation was made in Donkey Kong Country, but it’s also referenced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. After his final defeat at the hands of Mario, Cranky relocated to Donkey Kong Island. There, he grew old and crotchety – hence his name.
There’s a cameo for DK’s nephew, Diddy Kong in the movie, so-called because he is one of the smallest members of the Kong family.
Diddy Kong first appeared in Donkey Kong Country. He has been a mainstay in Donkey Kong, Mario, and Super Smash Bros. games ever since.
Mario transforms into Cat Mario via a power-up when he’s fighting Donkey Kong. The cat suit – and Cat Mario specifically – first appeared in the games in Super Mario 3D World. The power-up can be used by several characters including Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, and Bowser upon gaining a Super Bell.
In the sequence of the film in which Mario becomes Cat Mario, we see him display the cat-like powers it gives him, which he uses against Donkey Kong. He also suffers the indignity, of course, of appearing in a cat suit – and it isn’t lost on him. Particularly with Donkey Kong laughing.
As Cat Mario, the Italian plumber can pounce, climb walls, and run faster – on all fours, naturally.
Did you see Princess Peach in the movie riding a motorbike? She’s also dressed in her biker outfit, as seen in Mario Kart games.
Peach rides a number of bikes in gaming lore including the Standard Bike M, the Mach Bike, the Sugarscoot, the Zip Zip, the Sneakster, and the Dolphin Dasher – which resembles a dolphin on wheels.
The bike that the movie version most closely aligns with is the Zip Zip from Mario Kart Wii – it’s unlocked by winning the 100cc Lightning Cup or by completing 2100 races. It’s another of our very favourite Mario Easter eggs.
The iconic Rainbow Road takes centre stage in the movie as the characters race through a jungle skyscape.
Rainbow Road is the final course of the Special Cup and features in all Mario Kart games. It’s not easy to miss in the film – but it deserves including it in this list because it’s just so iconic!
You might not have been able to identify all the Toads in the Mushroom Kingdom, but one who might have stood out to you is the blue one wearing glasses.
Blue Toad can be seen wearing specs in Super Mario Land 3D.
During the wedding sequence, look out for King Bob-omb among the assembled guests. He’s not really causing trouble here, but in the games he’s an explosive foe.
His first appearance was in Super Mario 64 as the first boss faced. He is tasked with guarding the Power Star by Bowser.
When Mario becomes some kind of furry creature in the movie after obtaining another power-up, there’s confusion over what exactly he is. Is he a bear, or a raccoon?
Neither, this is Tanooki Mario and this neat little sequence makes reference to the real-life fan confusion over what exactly Tanooki Mario is, making it a deep cut and therefore particularly exciting Mario Easter Egg.
The tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog – it kind of looks like a cross between a raccoon, and, um, a dog. The tanuki plays a major role in Japanese folklore.
Tanooki Mario is particularly confusing because there is also Raccoon Mario. However, where Tanooki Mario’s appearance is a full animal suit – with Mario’s face and gloved hands visible – Raccoon Mario simply has a tail and ears.
When Mario wears a Tanooki Suit, he gains the powers of Raccoon Mario with additional statue transformation, which makes him invulnerable – but immobile.
There’s a pizza shop in the background in Brooklyn scenes called Punch-Out Pizza. Chris Pratt, who voices Mario in the film, has already talked about this Easter egg.
Punch-Out!! is a boxing video game first released by Nintendo as an arcade game in 1984.
This could be one of the deepest cuts of all in the movie. Seen on the front of another shop in Brooklyn, Disk-kun, or Diskun, was the name of the mascot for the Famicom Disk System, an accessory for the Japan-only precursor to the NES.
The add-on meant that you could play certain games on “Disk Cards”, which were cheaper and stored more data, rather than ROM cartridges.
Disk-kun is a character created in the shape of a floppy disk, with big round eyes and no other features. He has made appearances in some games.
Gosh-i, it’s Yoshi
We can’t leave this one out. If you stayed for a post-credits scene, you won’t have left disappointed. Setting up a sequel, the film shows that an egg made it through from the Mushroom Kingdom to Brooklyn in the melee – and deposited itself down in Brooklyn’s sewer system.
The egg in question is white with green spots – and as it begins to crack open, we hear a distinct ‘Wahoo!’ Yoshi fans rejoice.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is in cinemas now. You can read more about the animated feature here, or check-out our Mario highlights below…
All actors and characters in the voice cast | Will there be a Super Mario Bros. Movie 2? | Post-credits scene explained | Mario’s accent explained | Seth Rogen wants Donkey Kong spinoff | Chris Pratt’s favorite Mario cheat | Lots of Mario movies planned | Wario and Waluigi voice speculation | How to watch the Mario movie | Jack Black wants Bowser movie | How old is Princess Peach? | Is Yoshi in it?