Super Mario Bros. 3 is a 2022 traditionally-animated film produced by a collaboration of a revived Sullivan Bluth Studios, Sony, and Stephen Spielberg. Released on February 9, 2022, it is mostly based off of the 1990 Super Mario Bros. 3 video game (released in the United States exactly 32 years earlier), but it does borrow a few elements from other Mario games, cartoons, and movies.
The film was highly successful at the box office, bringing back $534.4 million in the United States and Canada and $1.323 billion worldwide against a $264 million budget, making it the second-highest grossing film of 2022 domestically and the fourth-highest grossing film of 2022 worldwide. It is a sequel to Super Mario Bros. (2017) and Super Mario Bros. 2 (2020) , and would later spawn one more sequel, Super Mario World (2023).
The film takes place three months after the events of the second film, in 1988. It opens in the crumbling remains of Wart's Castle in Subcon. Imajeen and Lina are leading an expedition to discover any magical items that Wart may have left behind. Among the treasures that are found is a book with a black cover, black pages, and no text. Later, at the castle of King Natlow of the Mushroom Kingdom, Natlow has summoned a meeting of the Royal Council, consisting of himself, his wife Queen Ursula, Peach, and the Seven Kings of the Mushroom Provinces: King Jules of Grass Land, Imajeen, King Charles of Water Land, King Hugo of Giant Land, King Walter of Sky Land, King Jeffrey of Ice Land, and King Donald of Pipe Land. The meeting is intended to discuss the results of the expedition. Natlow concludes that the mysterious black book is in fact the Dark Book, which can only be read by one who has the darkest hatred in his or her heart, and is the only known source of necromancy (black magic that can be done without the use of a wand). It was supposedly created by the evil demon Daimao, who was supposedly defeated and destroyed by a league of ancient wizards shortly before Subcon was vanished underground. Natlow orders the book destroyed so it would not fall into the wrong hands. In the castle courtyard, the book is set on fire as a large crowd, including Mario, Luigi, and Toad, watch. As it burns, a mysterious dark cloud builds up above and a bolt of lightning strikes the book, incinerating it. Some of the embers from the strike fly into Mario's eyes, blinding him. Mario is brought before the castle's physician, who says that Mario's blindness is only temporary, and that he should recover within 24 hours. Peach decides to take care of Mario in the meantime, and he sleeps in Peach's bed with her.
In the middle of the night, Mario has the vision that he encountered in Subcon in the second film again in his sleep, causing him to regain his eyesight. Although he is relieved that he can see again, he is also disturbed, as he notes that he has had this dream multiple times with increasing frequency over the past few months, and he has not yet told Peach about it. He tries to go back to sleep, but he is unable to. He wakes up Peach, and tells her everything he's seen in his dreams. Peach is disturbed by Mario's story, but nevertheless comforts him, and the two go back to sleep. The next morning, Mario and Peach have a private meeting with Natlow to discuss Mario's dreams. When Mario tells Woltan about his dreams, he brushes it off as nonsense and quickly changes the subject to remind Mario and Peach that their wedding is in three days, and they needs to focus their energy for the big day. Mario and Peach are both suspicious that Natlow knows more than he's willing to tell them, but decide to put off asking him again for another time. Meanwhile, in an undisclosed location, Kamek, Koopa's assistant from the first film, is meeting with a mysterious hooded figure and discussing the Dark Book. Suddenly, Kamek pulls it out, and gives it to him. The hooded figure laughs evilly, and says that he will have his revenge very soon, thanks to the book.
Back in the Mushroom Kingdom, everyone is preparing for the wedding. Peach is trying on a variety of dresses; Mario is trying on a variety of suits; Daisy is teaching her and Luigi's daughter, Laura,to be a flower girl; Luigi is teaching Yoshi how to be a ring bearer; and Toad is stressing out over how to arrange the ceremony and the subsequent reception. Three days later, it is the wedding day. The ceremony is interrupted, however, by a flying warship hovering above the castle chapel. A Boom-Boom-like creature with a green, spiked,shell; a green face; a black wristband on each hand; and blue, spiky, slicked-back hair crashes through a window, pulls out a wand, and turns the Kings of the Seven Provinces into animals. King Jules of Grass Land is turned into a dog, King Imajeen of Desert Land is turned into a spider, King Charles of Water Land is turned into a Kappa, King Hugo of Giant Land is turned into a Yoshi, King Walter of Sky Land is turned into a vulture, King Jeffrey of Ice Land is turned into a seal, and King Donald of Pipe Land is turned into a Venus Fire Trap (a Piranha Plant that breathes fire). The Kings are teleported away, and the creature, who identifies himself as Larry, tells everybody that if they ever want to see the kings again, they must chase after him and "his six siblings." Mario chases after Larry, but he hops aboard his airship and flies away.
Luigi tells Mario about his experience with Toad in the Pit of No Return in the first film, and how he managed to temporarily get racoon ears, a racoon tail, and the ability to fly when he opened the box of "flight gear" that happened to have a magic leaf inside. Natlow identifies this "flight gear" as a Super Leaf, and says that they can be found in floating blocks. Mario finds one just outside the castle grounds and powers up to Racoon Mario. He then flies after the airship. Mario eventually catches up to the airship and uses his Racoon power to sneak past the Koopa Troopas and Rocky Wrenches in charge of it. He enters Larry's chamber and fights him. After a short fight, Larry is defeated, but not before Mario loses his racoon power. Having no other way to escape from the airship, Mario hijacks it and crashes it onto the castle grounds. The Mushroom Kingdom Army storms the airship and takes its crew prisoner, including Larry. Meanwhile, Mario is shocked to find only one of the Seven Kings, Jules, is onboard.
After he is turned back to normal with Larry's confiscated wand, Jules, a former prosecuting lawyer prior to his appointment, brutally interrogates and cross-examines Larry about his mission against his will. Larry eventually admits that he works for King Koopa, who has returned to wreak his revenge on the Mushroom Kingdom after three years. As for the other six kings, each are in the custody of another "Koopaling," who resides in an airship flying over the land the king rules over. Upon hearing this news, Natlow declares a state of emergency and sends Mario, Luigi, and Toad to retrieve the other kings so he they can help him, Queen Ursula, Peach, Jules, and Queen Leena of Desert Land draw up war plans against Koopa's planned assault. After they leave, Peach again asks Natlow if he knows the meaning of Mario's dreams. Once again, Natlow denies any knowledge. Meanwhile, a metal boat travelling up a river of lava lands on the shore of a small lava beach. Disembarking are Kamek, some Koopa Troopas, and the mysterious hooded figure. They inspect what looks like an outdoor assembly line for various military vehicles. A tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed man in a suit and tie and wearing a fedora arrives and hands the hooded figure a clipboard holding what looks like a contract for selling military equipment. While signing the contract, the hooded figure boasts of the "upcoming assault," and laughs evilly as he reveals himself to be King Koopa, alive and well.
Back in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario, Luigi, and Toad have Raccoon power and are flying towards Desert Land. When they arrive, they recieve word of a robbery at the Desert Land Pyramid Museum. Thinking that the Musem may be where next King is being held hostage, they rush to the museum, only to find the entrance ransacked and completely destroyed. As the venture in further, they are attacked by a gang of Buster Beetles, who proceed to dismantle the room and throw the brick walls at them. Mario, Luigi, and Toad manage to defeat the Buster Beetles, but not before they have lost their raccoon power and have caused enough damage to have the Museum beginning to collapse. Before they can be crushed, however, Mario spots a Warp Pipe in a bathroom whose door has been left open. They jump in, and are warped to what appears to be a drain in a high school gym locker room. Mario looks up to the surface, and sees that a scrawny, fifteen year-old Puerto Rican boy named Marco is being harrassed by a bunch of high school football players, led by a well-built, blonde-haired, blue-eyed thug named Rocco. Mario, against Luigi and Toad's advice, punches open the grating that covers the drain and confronts the football players. This starts a brawl between Mario and the players, with Luigi and Toad stepping in to help Mario. During the brawl, Toad is hung by his pants on a coat hanger hook attatched to one of the lockers, and when one of the players attempts to give Toad a wedgie, he pulls too hard and Toad's pants rip. Eventually, the brawl ends when the gym teacher calls the police to have it be broken up. Rocco is arrested for assault since he was the one who started the fight. Meanwhile, since Toad has no other pair of pants with him, is provided with something that most closely resembles it: a diaper, much to his dismay. Meanwhile, an announcement is broadcast over the school intercom that "Marco Jimenez" be called to the front office. "Marco Jimenez" is the boy that Mario just stood up for. Mario, again against Luigi and Toad's advice, decides to follow him to the front office and ask if he's alright.
Mario steps out of the locker room, and immediately recognizes the gym as that of James Madison High, where he graduated in the class of 1970 and Luigi in the class of 1978. He, followed by Luigi and Toad, walk with Marco and start a conversation with him. Marco says that he's never been a real popular kid, and is a common target for bullies, especially Rocco and his gang. One of the reasons he is targeted so often is becase there is only one locker room, and the summer school gym class (the movie takes place in July) goes to it at the same time as the practicing football players. They proceed to walk down a hallway, where they pass by lockers and students hanging out and being high school students. When they pass by one boy trying to hit on a girl, the boy notices Marco and derrogatorily refers to him as the minimum standard that needs to be surpassed of one expects to not be a "dork." Marco is hurt by that statement, but Mario tells him to ignore him. Just then, the boy notices Toad and makes fun of his diaper, causing all the other students (except Marco) to laugh at him. Toad flies in a rage and begins threatening the boy, but Mario pulls him back before another fight can start. Once they arrive at the principal's office, it turns out that the principal is none other than Mario's old high school friend, Eddie Thomas. Mario and Eddie had been on the high school football team together, and Eddie had turned down a football scholarship to Columbia University to get a teaching degree at NYU. He became a teacher at James Madison in 1974 and was promoted to principal in 1987. As they chat, Marco's mother walks in, and it is none other than Mario's old love, Brenda. Brenda immediately recognizes Mario and excuses herself, emotional. Mario goes out and confronts her. After a brief but tense argument, Brenda reveals that Marco is in fact Mario's son. She then tells him that the reason she left him is because she didn't want him to have the burden of raising a child that young (Mario was 20 when she left him). Mario is furious that Brenda kept his son a secret from him for 15 years. Brenda responds by urging him to spend some time with Marco. Feeling too guilty to refuse, he accepts, and Marco accompanies Mario, Luigi, and Toad back to the Mushroom Kingdom. Meanwhile, Rocco calls his mother in jail, and when he describes Mario, his mother identifies him and says she will call his father about it.
Back in Desert Land, the four scramble through the rubble of the museum, just in time to see another Koopaling, Morton Koopa Jr., climbing out and escaping with Imajeen and some loot onto his airship. They quickly stowaway onboard and defeat Morton (who escapes), restore Imajeen, and give him a Super Leaf to fly back to Natlow's castle. Mario and Marco get into an argument over which land to go to next, causing the airship to crash into the water and sink. Just when it seems that they are about to drown, Toad discovers some blocks filled with Frog Suits, which they put on. They try to find their way to land, but are captured by a giant Cheep Cheep by the name of "Big Bertha." They are taken back her school. They are nearly eaten, but Mario saves the day when he seduces Big Bertha.
Back at Natlow's castle, the scene is chaotic. Natlow, Ursula, Peach, Toadsworth, Daisy, Jules, Imajeen, and Leena can't seem to come up with a coherent strategy against the impending Koopa attack, thanks in large part due to mutual distrust between some of the people present (namely Natlow and Peach, Toadsworth and Jules, and Jules and Imajeen). Angered by the lack of progress, Natlow storms out of the War Room and calls for the "Colonel" to be summoned. While he is walking back to the War Room, Peach confronts him about Mario's dream again, but once again he refuses to answer her questions.
Back at the Cheep Cheep School, Mario, Luigi, Marco, and Toad manage to escape, and see what appears to be a giant wooden submarine moving around the area. Curious, they get close to it, only to be attacked by a fleet of Bloobers and Jelectros. They manage to outsmart them by tricking them into colliding with the submarine's guns, setting off several explosions that disables the submarine and causes it to slowly start filling with water. Correctly guessing that the submarine is affiliated with Koopa, they swim inside, fight and defeat Wendy O. Koopa (who escapes), and restores King Charles back to normal. They find a Frog Suit for him and they swim out of the submarine just as it finishes filling up with water. They swim to shore on Water Land, and find two boats in an abandoned port. Charles takes the boat back to Toad Town, while the others sail to Giant Land.
Back at Natlow's castle, the "Colonel" arrives, as does Charles. The Colonel is a colonel in the US military and the United States' Emissary to the Mushroom Kingdom. Natlow asks him to relay information about the upcoming Koopa attack to President Ronald Reagan. In the War Room, the Colonel agrees, but it is quickly revealed behind the scenes that he is in fact a double agent for Koopa. He contacts the fedora-wearing man who met with Koopa earlier (now known to be named Rocco Caprice), and it is revealed that they are in fact co-conspirators in a gun-running plot in an attempt to make a personal profit. Caprice is already on the run for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, and the Colonel (whose involvement has not been discovered by the FBI) is covering for him.
Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Marco arrive onto shore in Giant Land, and remove their Frog Suits. Marco, still angry about the incident that occured in Desert Land, begins walking off and demands that Mario take him home, for he has had enough. Mario refuses, and they get into an emotional argument over Marco's life back at home and Mario's absence in it. In the end, however, they see eye-to-eye, and reconcile.
- Charles Martinet as Mario and Luigi
- Hynden Walch as Princess Peach
- Jim Cummings as Bowser
- Quinton Flynn as Toad