Super Mario Bros.: The Movie is the most reviled film in the history of video game cinema. I used to believe that it was so bad, it’s the reason why video game movies are scoffed at to this day. But it turns out that’s not true; the movie’s failure has less to do with the content itself (although it is a pretty wild movie) and more to do with the weird moment in American history in which it arrived.
Prior to 1993, video games and any related media were dismissed as superficial commercial goods. They were meant for children only, and they were considered relatively harmless compared to other media of the era, like the supposedly satanic Dungeons and Dragons.
And then Mortal Kombat arrived and fundamentally changed how we, as a culture, talked about video games for decades. That all happened after SMB had already bob-ombed at the box office, but it’s important context to understand just went went wrong with the movie.
Watch the video above to learn more about the weird and unfair history of Super Mario Bros. The Movie, and why it’s worth revisiting today.