Is It Game Over For The Video Game Movie Curse?: A Look At 30 Years of Video Game Movies

Valenti Govantes
5 min readMay 1
Image source: Image created by myself from images owned by Hollywood Pictures (top) and Universal (bottom), respectively.

Video games are packed with vast quantities of stories and lore to be further explored in other mediums. With the release of The Super Mario Bros Movie in theaters and The Last of Us on HBO, video game adaptations are on the verge of having a serious boom in prominence. Specifically, video game movies could become the next generation of event blockbusters to succeed the comic book movie obsession of the 2010s. It wasn’t always good for these kinds of video game adaptations though. The “cursed” reputation of video game movies grew out of the general consensus from the past thirty years that all of them are terrible. While I believe in the idea of the video game movie curse, it’s more like most of them aren’t consistently enjoyable than all of them are terrible.

Trust The Fungus? Of Course!

Image source: Hollywood Pictures.

Movies based on video games started out as an extension of the booming cultural curiosity towards video games throughout the ’80s and ’90s. One of the first and absolutely most infamous movie adaptations, 1993’s Super Mario Bros, initiated the curse by straying incredibly far from the aesthetic and story of the games. Reading a one-sentence synopsis can sufficiently convey these differences: Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo) are Italian plumbers who journey into an alternate dimension named Dinohattan, created after the meteor destroyed the dinosaurs, to rescue Luigi’s love interest, Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis), from President Koopa (Dennis Hopper), a human who evolved from a dinosaur.

It was a bold move to adapt the games as a live-action project and not an animated movie like one would expect, based on the cartoonish source material. Since only several Super Mario games were out at the time compared to the dozens out today, a film could only stretch the games’ premise and world so far.

Image source: Universal.
Valenti Govantes

Just your friendly, neighborhood Medium writer. Always open to discussing anything movie or comic book related.