This Super Mario Bros. Movie article contains spoilers.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is filled with easter eggs and references. For that matter, the entire movie is basically one big reference, which is part of its appeal and charm. However, the role of a Super Mario Bros. Movie character named Lumalee has already stolen the hearts of many early viewers and caught quite a few Super Mario fans by surprise.
See, Lumalee first appeared in Super Mario Galaxy. A member of the Luma species, Lumalee is the name given to several star-like creatures that appear throughout the game. In Galaxy, Lumalee essentially serves as a vendor. By feeding Lumalee 30 Star Bits, Mario can ask the Lumalee to transform into either a 1-UP Mushroom or a life-replenishing mushroom. Super Mario Galaxy 2‘s Lumalee would also offer additional items for more Star Bits.
Aside from the practicality of their appearances, Lumalee are mostly known for being…well, cute. They’re cute little stars that dance around and help you out. They’re not exactly icons of the Super Mario franchise, but they’re memorable to those who played the Galaxy games. Lumalee even made it into McDonald’s recent Happy Meal promotion for the Super Mario Bros. movie.
So, on some level, some fans were surprised to see Lumalee in that movie at all, much less in a fairly prominent role. However, the real surprise in this instance is how Lumalee is portrayed in that movie.
The Lumalee we see in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is being held prisoner by Bowser. Lumalee remains as cute and cheerful as ever, but his dialog is…err…different. In fact, Lumalee seems unnaturally cheerful about the whole thing. He gleefully refers to Mario and Luigi as more “meat for the grinder” and talks about embracing the “sweet relief of death.” Mind you, he does all of this with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
It’s a pretty surprising portrayal of the character. There are a couple of slightly darker and more “wink, wink” jokes in the movie, but few suspected that one of the cutest Super Mario Bros. characters would also be the most consistent source for the film’s darkest material.
Of course, that does seem to be the basis of the whole joke. What’s funnier than taking one of the cutest characters in Super Mario Bros. and turning him into a smiling proponent of a quick death? The answer is “nothing.” Nothing is funnier than that.
Even still, I have to say that this portrayal of Lumalee did cause me to reconsider how Lumalee was originally portrayed in the games. After all, Luma and Lumalee demand for their hunger be satiated before transforming into something else. Certain Luma transform into galaxies, and Lumalee transforms into an item that is meant to be consumed. Have they just accepted transformation and consumption as part of the cycle of their existence? The Luma also have a habit of calling Rosalina “mama,” which does suggest there may be some underlying issues there that aren’t entirely resolved.
So is The Super Mario Bros. Movie version of Lumalee a hilarious contradiction of the game version of Lumalee, or are the movie’s writers realizing Lumalee’s inherent darkness? Apologies for sounding like a Jonathan Frakes Beyond Belief intro, but when you’re low on sleep and thinking way too much about the Super Mario Bros. Movie, your brain will betray you.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out in theaters now.