While I will fight for the honor of the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie obviously sticks much closer to the source material. There are no dystopian sci-fi kingdoms, no rocket boots, and not a single body horror piece of fungus in sight. For as close as the movie sticks to established Super Mario Bros. lore, though, the movie almost made a major departure from its source material that would have certainly raised many questions.
In an interview with Variety, Super Mario Bros. Movie co-director Aaron Horvath discussed the challenges of making Super Mario Bros.‘ logic work in the movies. Apparently, Super Mario‘s “floating blocks” presented particularly large logic hurdles that some members of the creative crew were intent on overcoming. Actually, at some point in development, Horvath and the creative team suggested adding a few pieces of dialog that would explain exactly why Super Mario Bros.‘ blocks floated and why there are so many of them. The details of that explanation are…interesting.
“Our idea was that there’s a mineral that’s natural to the Mushroom Kingdom, which we call ‘Floatanium,’ because it sounded funny to us,” Horvath said. “The Toads mine it and transform it into these blocks and use them for construction purposes.”
So why was Floatanium cut from the final movie? Well, matters of taste aside, Super Mario Bros. Movie co-director Michael Jelenic suggested that Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri’s movies are successful because Meledandri is “allergic to exposition.” I too know writers who use subtext, and they’re all cowards.
Seriously, though, Horvath also suggests that Mario’s whole deal is “no weirder than Peter Parker being bit by a spider and gaining superpowers.” In other words, it sounds like the team felt that the whole floating bricks thing didn’t need an explanation and that the movie didn’t benefit from it being there. Honestly, I kind of agree. Once you enter the rabbit hole of trying to explain everything in Super Mario Bros., you will soon be surprised by how deep you have to go.
Even still, we have to talk about Floatanium. Not since Avatar‘s Unobtainium has a powerful material with a silly name potentially played such a significant role in such a major movie. The idea of there being a fictional material that causes those bricks to float is amusing enough, but it’s the idea of that material being mined by the Toads that absolutely slays me. A bunch of Toads toiling in the mines to acquire materials for the construction kingpins of Mushroom Kingdom? Mario destroying their efforts with a casual leap in the air? Some of those blocks also contain beneficial items for…reasons? The potential is limitless, but so are the questions.
Again, though, that does seem to be the point. Why raise too many questions when there are so many other aspects of the Super Mario universe that will not be answered? Has anyone ever really been that curious about why the bricks float? For that matter, you have to imagine Nintendo was probably a little hesitant about the idea of the movie adding notable pieces of lore to a mythology that is already (let’s face it) kind of shaky.
Still, I’ll say this for Floatanium. It’s a much better explanation for what those floating bricks are than the super creepy explanation that the Super Mario Bros. instruction manual once offered.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out in theaters now.