Wreck-It Ralph is now 10 years old. While its sequel was a gigantic, sloppy mess of internet references, the original holds up as one of the better takes on the mega crossover subgenre. Hence even though the movie’s characters of Ralph and Felix (John C. Reilly and Jack MacBrayer) are pastiches of Donkey Kong and Mario, their world (or minimized multiverse?) is full of many pre-existing characters from real video games. Folks like Q*Bert and Dig Dug pop up as either supporting players or background dressing.
Of course, the biggest use of the crossover plot device is Bad Anon, a support group for video game villains that bookends the movie. Ralph bares his soul there to his various counterparts from different games. Some of them are legit video game characters like Neff from Altered Beast and Clyde from Pac-Man. Then you get the legally distinct types like Cyborg and Shinobi, who are blatantly just Kano and Smoke from Mortal Kombat in an unofficial capacity. A couple of these characters would go on to get their own major movie roles years later, such as Bowser and Dr. Robotnik.
Zangief from Street Fighter II gets his moment to give Ralph advice, which to this day is absolute bullshit because Zangief is a hero to children all around the world! He’s not a villain! He’s BFFs with E. Honda! Disney did the Red Cyclone dirty, and I’ll never forgive them for it.
Also from Street Fighter II, however, is the game’s final boss, M. Bison. Bison admittedly doesn’t do much in Wreck-It Ralph. During the Bad Anon meeting, he questions if Ralph is “going Turbo,” which is a reference to the movie’s villain buried under a reference to the game Street Fighter II Turbo (which, granted, does not make much sense in that context). He takes part in the group speech and, as everyone leaves, he points out that he won’t be able to bring snacks for next week’s meeting. Between that, being a wedding guest later in the movie, and being on Wreck-It Ralph’s poster, that’s it for M. Bison.
Notably, Bison is the only Bad Anon member who is voiced by his in-game actor. Gerald C. Rivers is Bison’s English actor in Street Fighter IV and kills it in that game, so it’s nice that he gets to reprise the role on the big screen.
But see, there’s another major reason for M. Bison to be in Wreck-It Ralph. A very important reason. Disney understood the true secret to cinema. The one undeniable fact about how film works:
M. Bison is the best thing about whatever movie he’s in.
And we have the evidence to back that up…
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
The Street Fighter anime movie is a mess of an attempt to get all 16 characters to pop up on screen at least once (17 if you count Akuma’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo), but it’s not bad. This is the first time we get to see Bison as a bulky brick wall of a man, which would be adapted into the Street Fighter Alpha games. Voiced by Tom Wyner, Bison spends the movie obsessed with getting his hands on Ryu so he can turn him into his ultimate weapon.
There are a lot of sweet moments in this movie. The Ryu vs. Sagat intro fight rocks. Vega vs. Chun-Li is totally rad. But my friends, nothing compares to the ridiculous ending where Ryu thinks he has killed Bison for good, only for Bison to hijack a truck and try to run Ryu over as a freeze-frame cliffhanger.
Street Fighter: The Movie
Every now and then, we’re graced with a truly gifted actor getting the role of a cartoon supervillain and absolutely going ham. In those rare, luckly instances, the best ones reach the point where their performance becomes the thing of legends. Much like Frank Langella as Skeletor in the Masters of the Universe movie in 1987, Raul Julia’s take on Bison in the live-action Street Fighter movie (1994) makes the whole thing worth watching. In a movie that somehow translates a martial arts tournament storyline into a good vs. evil GI Joe knockoff, it’s all held together by Julia chewing every bit of scenery.
That unforgettable “For me, it was Tuesday” line, uttered in dripping condescension to Chun-Li as she attempts to remind him of his war crimes, has become synonymous with Bison to the point that he quotes it in the games themselves.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
While the original Street Fighter live-action movie is a pretty fun time overall, the same can’t be said for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009). Very, very little works in this movie and a lot of it is cringeworthy. This goes double for every time Chris Klein is on screen as Charlie Nash. Oof.
Neal McDonough plays Bison this time around and is arguably the only thing keeping it afloat. His performance does not even compare to Raul Julia’s, but he does get a couple choice one-liners in there and they actually went and included Bison’s bonkers in-game backstory where he magically exorcized all of his good out of his body to turn himself into a being of pure evil. I’ll give the movie respect for that, as it briefly gave the thing a pulse.
At the end of the day, am I claiming that Wreck-It Ralph was a good movie because M. Bison showed up to say two lines and then hung out in the background? No, that would be silly. What I am saying is that Wreck-It Ralph was a GREAT movie because M. Bison showed up to say two lines and then hung out in the background.
Now when is Disney going to get around to the live-action remake?