Bringing Donkey Kong To The Super Mario Bros. Movie Gave Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto A New Perspective

It's always been unclear as to how Donkey Kong fits into the world of Mario. Technically, the two characters made their debut together in the same game and they've made numerous crossover appearances since then, but they also seem to exist in independent corners of their separate franchises. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," however, introduces Donkey Kong as a piece of the greater Mario universe, tidying up a confusing piece of Mario lore for the creator of both video game icons, Shigeru Miyamoto.

The "Donkey Kong" arcade game, released in 1981, pitted Mario against the antagonistic DK, though the former didn't have a full identity yet and was called "Jumpman." Both moved on to become the main heroes of their own respective series as Miyamoto directly oversaw development of the Mario games and British studio Rare handled the "Donkey Kong Country" series. Neither character appeared in each other's flagship titles, but Donkey Kong remained a permanent staple of the Mario Bros. crossover games like "Mario Kart," "Mario Party," and "Mario Tennis," while also being part of the original roster of the Nintendo fighting series "Super Smash Bros." Although Donkey Kong is a staple Nintendo character, Rare's third-party handling of the Donkey Kong games is probably why the character has gone on his own adventures without any mention of Mario.

A Nintendo reunion

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" actually comes up with a neat way of explaining Donkey Kong's awkward but essential connection to his Italian plumber frenemy. The film posits that there are different realms inside of the magical green pipe world Mario and Luigi get sucked into. Princess Peach reigns over the Mushroom Kingdom, while Bowser holds the Dark Lands with an iron grip. Cranky Kong, meanwhile, controls the Jungle Kingdom, where his son Donkey Kong meets and fights Mario. The Mario and Donkey Kong games have never tried to rationalize the situation, but their dual appearance in Illumination's animated adaptation made Shigeru Miyamoto realize that they've always been part of the same universe, even if it wasn't always obvious. 

In an interview with Screen Rant, the video game designer expressed:

"In this past, there was the Mario group, and then Donkey Kong was a separate thing in my mind. But looking back, there are games like 'Mario Party' where they appear together — to the point where I was thinking, 'Why am I separating them?' And when the idea of bringing them together came up, we just thought it was a great idea."

Without spoiling anything, suffice it to say that "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" leaves room for to expand on what little story the "Super Mario" games offer. Illumination effectively explained how Donkey Kong could exist in the greater world of the Mushroom Kingdom, so it only makes sense other characters affiliated with Mario could smoothly transition. Now can someone explain how Wario fits into all of this?

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is now playing in theaters.