Given its critically derided reputation as a failed attempt to turn a video game into a film, 1993’s Super Mario Bros. might not seem likely to score a sequel in comic book form. Yet it does boast a cult following, and that spurred writers Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss to start work on just such a project.
It all started after a 2010 interview with the original film’s screenwriter, Parker Bennett, who gave them insight into what he might have concocted to continue the plot after the seemingly sequel-baiting cliff-hanger ending.
“Parker has admitted that the sequel hook was an homage to the ending of the original Back To The Future, and, in the same way, was not a serious indication of a potential sequel,” Applebaum tells Empire. “If the film was successful enough to merit one, they would have gone from there.” The rest, of course, is cinema history, but Applebaum and Hoss were inspired to dig deeper.
“We did heavily discuss the world of the film, from its backstory to the character's motivations. Parker also provided a general direction for what he would have wanted to happen to these characters and what consequences from the first film would become major themes of the sequel. At that point he sort of ‘passed the torch’ to us."
The idea has now spawned the online comic, which also features contributions from Eryk Donovan and Jaymes Reed. “Super Mario Bros. provided a look into a world too rich and too original to not explore again. We knew that the original had its fans and felt that if we brought the Mario Bros. back to Dinohattan there would be an audience for that story,” explains Applebaum. “As this year is the film's 20th anniversary there was no better time.”
For now, the current plan is to release a page a week across a designed first arc. “We have planned for ten chapters of about ten pages each, which will then lead into a final adventure to close off a 'trilogy' for the characters. We also have several side-stories to explore in what we'd like to think of as an 'expanded universe,' which will be open to other writers and artists.”
Finally, does Applebaum think the film deserves its bad reputation? “The film certainly has been unfairly regarded, although in recent years opinion has shifted. It may be that people are giving it another chance or perhaps just nostalgia, but you can't bring up the film without at least a few people admitting that they liked it growing up…” Intrigued? To check out the cover and some initial artwork, head to the comic’s site.