The Super Mario Bros. Movie's Credit Scene Is A Direct Recreation Of An Infamous '90s Blockbuster

Spoilers follow.

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is a film steeped in nostalgia, and frankly, even more nostalgia than we're used to.

Lots of movies try to evoke pleasant childhood memories of popular characters and stories, but in this film, almost every frame and every sound pays homage to the vast history of the beloved video game franchise. Iconic characters and locales, sound effects and musical themes; this is a movie that depends, in every way, on the audience's familiarity with the history of "Super Mario Bros." in all of its previous incarnations.

But the homages don't stop there, and they don't stop until the lights come up in the theater. The very last plot point in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is a weirdly explicit reference to a very weird movie, a movie that was notoriously unpopular and unsuccessful, and which failed to launch a popular franchise despite a big cast, a popular intellectual property, and millions upon millions of dollars of investment.

SPOILERS are coming up, but first, let's take a quick trip of our own down memory lane, because this wasn't the first weird sequel tease in "Super Mario Bros." movie history.

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Sequel

It's been 30 years since the release of the first live-action "Super Mario Bros." movie — and the third "Super Mario" feature overall (including the 1986 anime) — but it wasn't supposed to take this long. The last time Mario and Luigi found a portal to the Mushroom Kingdom in the sewers underneath New York, fought an evil but kinda funny reptile dictator, and saved a princess from peril, it ended in an unusually in-your-face cliffhanger.

Sequel teases are commonplace now but outside of old-fashioned adventure serials, like "Flash Gordon," they weren't always standard operating procedure. They're a little bit gauche, for one thing, but it's also risky to call that big a shot, because you look pretty silly if you assumed everyone would love your movie and they really, really didn't. For every successful sequel tease, one which actually led to the production of more films, there are plenty that failed. The cliffhanger of "Back to the Future" gave us "Back to the Future Part II and III" for example, but the same can't be said for the cliffhangers of "Masters of the Universe" or, case in point, "Super Mario Bros."

The original live-action film concludes with Princess Daisy, played by Samantha Mathis, suddenly bursting into the Mario Brothers' apartment, yelling "You gotta come with me! I need your help!" When Luigi asks why, her explanation is pretty vague. "You're never gonna believe this," she claims, leaving future filmmakers plenty of wiggle room to concoct a new plot for the (not nearly as) inevitable (as they assumed) follow-up.

So you might think that if the new "Super Mario Bros. Movie" was going to pay homage to the cliffhanger ending of a notorious 1990s would-be blockbuster, this would be the one. That would make sense. But instead, they went in a very different direction. (SPOILERS AHOY!)

Size didn't matter

It's been 25 years since the release of Roland Emmerich's "Godzilla," a film that was supposed to be the next "Independence Day" but turned out to be the next, well, "Super Mario Bros." An American adaptation of a beloved Japanese intellectual property that changed just about everything, underwhelmed at the box office, got lambasted by the critics, and is now one of the biggest would-be blockbuster punchlines from the 1990s (a decade with no shortage thereof).

Emmerich's "Godzilla" was positioned to be a global blockbuster powerhouse, with ad campaigns from fast food chains and a bizarrely ambitious tie-in soundtrack. The director of "Independence Day" bringing the most popular kaiju in the world to New York City seemed like a sure thing. So the filmmakers probably thought they were on safe ground when they concluded the film with the title monster perishing, followed by a camera sinking down into the underbelly of New York, finally zeroing in on one of Godzilla's eggs, which then hatches in front of the camera.

If the movie had been good this might have been an encouraging promise of more monster mayhem, but it wasn't, and the next time we saw this version of Godzilla — later renamed "Zilla" (for, as director Ryuhei Kitamura put it, "They took the 'god' out of Godzilla") — it was in the 2004 Japanese film "Godzilla: Final Wars," where Godzilla kicked its butt in record time.

Yoshi's all that

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" concludes the same way. After the devastation of New York by a giant reptile, the camera sinks down underground, where it lingers on a dinosaur egg that suddenly begins to hatch. Unlike in the American "Godzilla" remake, audiences probably know that this sequel tease isn't much of a danger. It's an egg that fans of the series recognize: It contains a Yoshi, one of the beloved, ridable dinosaurs from the video games. It's probably a new friend, not a new threat.

It's also not even technically a reveal, since Mario already saw a whole herd of Yoshies earlier in the movie. They may not have played much of a role in the plot, but they did already make their debut. Presumably, this egg is specifically the green Yoshi that fans know and love, but it does raise a bit of a question: Why is this Yoshi egg in the sewers under Brooklyn, when it sure as heck didn't look like there were any Yoshies in the climactic battle between Bowser, Daisy, Donkey Kong and the Mario Brothers? 

And again, if you're going to put a sequel tease in a movie that you hope will be a box-office blockbuster and spawn a franchise, why would you go out of your way to remind audiences of a sequel tease from a notorious misfire that failed to do either of those things? It's not even like time has been kind to "Godzilla." Despite the ongoing trend of critically reevaluating and celebrating films with notorious reputations — like "Hudson Hawk," "Batman & Robin," and yes, even "The Super Mario Bros." — Roland Emmerich's film remains a punchline to this very day.

In other words: The egg tease now belongs to "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," but the yolk is still on "Godzilla."