Has Nintendo Lost a Golden Opportunity With Wreck-It-Ralph?
As the Houston Press's video game expert, I'm understandably anticipating Disney's Wreck-It-Ralph intensely. I got to see the trailer while taking the kid to Brave, and from the looks of it, we might have this generation's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on our hands.
In case you haven't heard anything about it, Ralph is about the world of video games, everything from classic Atari to Halo. When we shut off our consoles, the characters knock off for the day just like we do at our jobs.
Ralph is the hulking, Donkey Kong-esque villain of Fix-It Felix Jr. For 30 years he's tried to destroy a building while Felix fixes it, until finally Ralph gets hurled off the roof. Now he's grown tired of being the bad guy, and longs to become a hero in another game.
The thing that is getting the movie so much attention is the scene in which Ralph is at a support group for villains. The room is filled with some of the most recognizable names in video game history. M. Bison, Dr. Robotnick, the ghosts from Pac-Man, and even Bowser are all on hand to commiserate on the trouble of doing a job everyone hates you for doing.
These characters are just the tip of the iceberg. There have been confirmed to be 188 different video game character cameos set to appear in the film, including big, big names like Sonic the Hedgehog, Q*Bert, Frogger, and freakin' Neff from Altered Beasts! You shut up, that game was way better than your precious Golden Axe, mocking Genesis snob I just made up.
But one name is definitely missing from that roster, the very face of video gaming himself, Mario. Apparently Disney and Nintendo couldn't come to a monetary agreement over the use of the character, or even his brother Luigi. Director Rich Moore said at Comic-Con that Nintendo wouldn't let him use Mario himself. "And his brother wanted more money."
Think about that for a moment. Disney, which not only has its own empire but is also buried so deep in Marvel money right now that we'd need James Cameron to launch an expedition to find them, decided that Mario was too expensive. Skrillex? He's in, but Mario's not.
Let's look back at Roger Rabbit one more time. Sure, that film has just as many cameos, and some of the big names, like Goofy and Sylvester, are so fleeting as to be near pointless, but the scene that really pulled the whole thing together was that for a few brief seconds, the world got to see Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse interact. It's a short scene, but absolutely nothing screamed, "Cartoon characters are real!" louder than the two most iconic names in children's animation ending up in a comedy bit with Bob Hoskins.
All that, however, is merely to the detriment of Wreck-It-Ralph, not Nintendo. Mario certainly isn't going to suffer any by not being in a Disney film no matter how big it might be. He's the Guinness-recognized best-selling video game character of all time. No one else is even close. In fact, you might argue that Mario himself is more popular than Mickey Mouse. So what's my premise?
Basically, Nintendo has killed a great opportunity to finally get some good movie adaptations made.