Secondary "Mad Max-inspired" Sci-Fi/Action Script: Detailed Synopsis



Author: Mark Johnston (Ragey)

July 10, 2011


Although a source of fresh ideas, Ian la Frenais and Dick Clement's first attempt at rewriting Parker Bennett and Terry Runté's script was not well polished and came across as little more than a dumping ground for concepts and characters to be expanded upon. Indeed, this second draft (dated 25th March 1992, which can be read HERE) is a more refined version of their take of a more mature, grittier and action-packed film. As such, holdover comedic elements from the original Bennett/Runté draft that didn’t mesh well with this take are cut out, while extraneous characters are either removed or better utilized.

The roots of these changes can be sourced to Annabel's script notes to co-director Rocky Morton, which can best be summed up as urging the writers to tighten things up by dropping extraneous characters and elements. Her desire was to see the narrative more sophisticated and kid-friendly with a strong focus on appealing to the teenage demographic.


The relation between Mario and Luigi is rather de-emphasized; there's still the usual talk of Luigi being a believer of weird things and Mario being close-minded, but we're not exactly beaten over the head with it like we are in the finished film.


The friendly Goomba introduced in the previous script, Hark, is given a little more time to shine by interacting with Daisy, though his role is still rather unsubstantial. This expansion can be credited to Annabel enjoying the character as potential sympathy bait that would be killed by Koopa, inspiring hatred from the audience. Because of this, Hark gets chucked out a window. The writers evidently found the "heroic Goomba" role too good to waste and so chose to make him survive in later drafts. He would eventually merge with the character of Toad in the final revision - literally.


This murder is only one act of many that establishes Koopa as a much stronger character than the version seen in the previous draft. The problem of him lacking strong motivation or awareness of Daisy's role as a Portal-Keeper are resolved by making him a much more intelligent and sinister character that is fully aware of his own strengths and desires.


Toad is now introduced in a prison cell with Mario and Luigi, where he is allowed to exposit his sub-dimension theory much earlier in the film. He's still a scavenger who resides in the desert, though all of his chameleon traits have since been abandoned, and his partner, Burrows, has been soundly disposed of. He also comes across as a slightly more grizzled and jaded character, as if he's reluctantly accepted life under the tyranny of King Koopa; the ending casts him in a more optimistic life.


Various minor characters such as Eddie Scapelli, Bloober and Gloria (now renamed Bertha) are retained, though their roles are largely unchanged; Bertha would receive further development into a supporting ally in later drafts, though the other two would slowly lose screen presence. Yoshi is upgraded from pointless cameo to very, very, very, very minor supporting character, if only because he allows Daisy to escape at one point by biting Lena's arm. It's not a glamorous role, but it does mean the production crew would have justification for creating an expensive animatronics now that he does something.

Lena remains viciously in love with Koopa (or at least in it for the sex), ambitious for her own reign as ruler, and harbours a jealousy for Daisy, though those elements have all been amplified, creating a more sexual and sinister character. The partnership between her and Koopa wanes throughout the story until Koopa ditches her and heads for the meteorite chamber himself. This minor betrayal would be reversed for the final film, which helps highlight Lena's ambition and lust for power.


The rather hard-to-follow pan-dimensional climax of the March 3rd script was given a mild overhaul; the strange reality-contorting scuffle between Mario and Koopa was mercifully dropped, likely due to potential sheer expense of the special effects. The "merging" of the worlds is played up a little more, if only because it's the new way of disposing of Lena: instead of being crushed in a rockslide, she accidentally lands on a performance of Phantom of the Opera and gets crushed after an earthquake drops a chandelier on her.


Although still a distance away, the scripts are beginning to take shape and bear resemblance to the finished production. Dick and Ian now had a chance to write how they liked without dumbing things down, which gave the story a rather dark image of this strange, surreal landscape that Mario and Luigi find themselves in.  However, not only does the resemblance to the source material become ever more tenuous, it's clear that this dark and "adult" approach was not what the producers were after as a lot of elements were toned down for the finished film. The script still remains a great curiosity into what could have been.




The intro is the same as the film, with baby Daisy being abandoned at a church in a metal egg container with a jewel on it while her mother is ambushed by Koopa in a cave, prompting her to make the ceiling come down on her.


Mario and Luigi head to a house to fix a flooded basement, only to find rival plumber Doug with his Rescue Rooter van there who has already landed the job. The brothers are then called to a restaurant to fix a dishwasher. At a construction site university students conduct an excavation where Daisy is volunteering, but she's being watched by Iggy and Spike in a taxi. She leaves and the duo prepare to kidnap her, but Mario's van blocks their way. Daisy is also a waitress at the restaurant and accidentally slips and breaks several plates, but Luigi, entranced with her, claims it was his fault and pays for it. Iggy and Spike are eyeing Daisy at the far corner of the restaurant. Daisy thanks them for covering for her, while Luigi offers her a lift to the excavation site. They see builders picketing against the excavation project, and Mario recognises Eddie Scapelli arriving on the scene who complains about the project, claiming he needs his work done here and stating his picketing workers are "honest men with families to feed. They have a right to express their opinion." "Not with baseball bats," a cop replies.


Mario takes Daniella, Scapelli's sister to dinner, but the man himself shows up and threatens him with death if he touches her. Meanwhile, Luigi is in the van and sees Daisy at the excavation site, offering her a lift and the two chat, Daisy explaining she's an orphan and the only thing she had was her fragment necklace. Luigi picks up Daniella from the restaurant while Mario goes home, though Daniella is kidnapped by Iggy and Spike after she's dropped off. Eddie Scapelli shows up at Mario's apartment and offers him work on the excavation site, but he's reluctant; Eddie draws a gun on him and makes it clear he wants the project sabotaged.


The next day, Luigi and Daisy visit the excavation site, but Daisy is kidnapped by Iggy and Spike while Mario bursts the pipes with Scapelli's men surrounding him. Hearing Luigi's voice, Mario scoots after him and the two reunite, heading off to rescue Daisy. Her cries lead down a dead end, but they find her face rippling in a wall, where Luigi grasps her necklace. They follow in and find themselves in an underground chamber, images of a meteorite hitting Earth etched on the wall.


They head out a door and find themselves on a subway platform, where Daisy is loaded onto a train while the brothers clobber Iggy and Spike. They head into the city in hopes of hailing a cab, but are mugged by an old lady with Air Stompers (by THWOMP... "Just Stomp it.") who leaps away. They're approached by two officers who claim they want identification, but they arrest the plumbers for not producing a bribe, where they are taken through the de-fungus process and have Bertha, a busty cop, take the meteorite necklace from Luigi.


Koopa, after some rousing sex from Lena (no, seriously), complains about how the city is in a shambles ("There are citizens down there eating vegetables! Even fruit! When a species stops devouring flesh it's headed straight for the museum."), while Iggy and Spike and mention that they lost Daisy, but note that the plumbers have been taken in by the police. Koopa calls for every girl between 16 and 25 to be hauled in. Mario and Luigi sit in a cell with Toad (He has an old, grizzled face, lined and weathered. He stares at them with pale, watery eyes.) who explains the sub-dimension and how the fungus is covering the city, and says he lives in the desert though visits the city to scavenge, but was brought in. The brothers are brought to see their lawyer, Koopa, who tells them to identify Daisy from a line-up; after being pointed out she is taken away, to Luigi's dismay.

The plumbers are taken to the de-evolution chamber where Koopa "recycles" the lowlifes into obedient minions, two white-coated technicians controlling the machine, Bloober (small and stout with an Einstein haircut) and Wart (small, stoop-shouldered and pop-eyed). Wart is used as a demonstration, but the machine malfunctions and he dissolves into green goop. Koopa is pushed onto the machine while the brothers escape to the underground lot and steal a car. They escape through an unfinished tunnel but fly off a cliff, saved by a wad of fungus.


Daisy, identified as the princess via a brain scan, encounters Yoshi in her chamber while Koopa is disappointing to see she no longer has the meteorite fragment. Mario and Luigi wake up in the morning and find themselves in the desert outside the city, but they're spotted by a film helicopter. The footage is broadcast on TV with an announcement by Koopa with a reward for anyone who captures them alive, and encourages competition amongst the participators.


An army of lowlifes on all manner of vehicles and tanks soon arrive in the desert, hunting down the plumbers and each other, using nets and explosives and all manner of weaponry. Iggy and Spike enter on a motorcycle and sidecar after the other competitors have wiped each other out and catch the brothers, but a new vehicle roars in and shoots them both with tranquilisers - it's Toad! He saves them and takes them to his quarry hide-out, while he explains about the city's dictatorship (it's word-for-word the same as the one in the novelisation) and states his theory of how the good king (who is unnamed, unlike the book) was de-evolved into the fungus and is trying to get revenge on Koopa.


Koopa arrives in the desert and finds Iggy and Spike, but finding that they didn't take the meteorite fragment from Daisy, he leaves them to die and be consumed by the fire snakes. Mario, Luigi and Toad return to save them, needing their assistance to find Daisy and the meteorite. They make their way back into the city by stealing a garbage truck and make their way to the Boom Boom Bar, where they expect Bertha the cop will be. After getting some suits, Iggy, Spike and the plumbers enter.


Spike informs them that cops and Goombas hate each other, and they see Bertha. Spike tries to woo her over (using the same "can o' spam" lines Mario uses in the movie) but is punched, so Mario steps up to dance with her, but Lena enters and starts dancing, copying each others' moves (They're hot, they're happening. The MUSIC pulses, the floor jumps with the stomping feet. Mario's caught on to the main moves of the Dactyl. It's more like a mating ritual than a dance. Facial movements are as important as swivelling hips. Voices shout encouragement.). Lena, however, signals the Goombas to take him down once they're finished dancing, so Luigi leaps onto the glitter-ball and kicks the Goombas down, erupting in a brawl, but Lena gets the necklace from Bertha and our four heroes flee to the cloakroom. They equip themselves with Air Stompers and leap out the ceiling, then hurling themselves onto the back of the garbage truck driven by Toad.


Lena presents the meteorite fragment to Koopa and he rewards her with some licky style. Our heroes stop outside Koopa's tower, Iggy warning them about the security inside and giving Mario a Bob-Omb ("This isn't kid stuff. This can blow your head off. Better than a Koopa gettin' you alive.") as he and Spike will stay outside. The other three enter the maintenance tunnel and they adjust the pipes and tear some wires, knocking out the electrical system and causing the heating system to become irregular - some areas are boiling, some are freezing. Mario and Luigi climb up a long shaft while Toad stays behind.

While Koopa badmouths the fungus-ised king, Daisy warms up to Yoshi and Hark, the Goomba guarding her room. Koopa enters and talks about his plans to merge the dimensions and conquer both, getting all the resources he could wish for, and tries to seduce Daisy only for Lena to enter, warning him of saboteurs in the building. Koopa goes to tend to it and leaves Lena and Daisy alone, the former trying to kill the princess, but Yoshi bites her arm and allows Daisy to flee. Mario and Luigi exit the ventilation tunnel and arrive in the chamber where the kidnapped Brooklyn girls are kept, though they dash off to find Daisy, who has gotten herself ensnared in some fungus. Luigi, remembering Toad's theory speaks to it to let her go and it obeys. The fungus opens a new doorway for them and they make their way down a corridor, hoping to find Koopa and stop him from merging the dimensions, but he appears with some Goombas, kidnaps Luigi and Daisy and hurls Hark through a window.


Mario returns to the Brooklyn girls and they escape through a ice-encrusted pipe on a mattress, Goombas following after, but they don't duck a row of stalactites and are knocked off their sled. Mario and the girls crash out into the city central, where the girls are herded into Toad's truck where Iggy and Spike are as well, admitting they're reformed and are ex-creeps, and take them back to the gateway. Visions of the real world appear briefly, showing that Koopa is trying to reunite the fragment with the meteorite.


In the meteorite chamber not far from the gateway, Koopa tries to slot the fragment in, but it forces him away. Daisy is the only one capable so she does it, but the fragment breaks in half. Elements of Koopa's world merge briefly with ours: a kid in Air Stompers winning a basketball game, an APC full of Goombas and whatnot. Lena tries to find the meteorite chamber, but ends up on a performance of Phantom of the Opera where the quaking surroundings cause a chandelier to fall and skewer her. The Brooklyn girls are led through the portal while Mario enters, reuniting with Luigi and letting him escape with Daisy as he and Koopa face off. The chamber collapses under a rockslide, preventing Luigi from going back for his brother. Luigi and Daisy follow the girls into the portal and arrive back at the excavation site, where ambulances, police and interviewers are. The nearby river blasts upwards, and Mario and Koopa are seen clinging to the support wires of a bridge.


They clamber onto the girders of the bridge and Koopa makes his way towards Mario, who starts throwing everything in his tool belt at him to no effect, until he finds the Bob-Omb. He winds it up and lets it loose, but it crawls up the girder without Koopa noticing, moving past him. Koopa reaches Mario and lifts him into the air, roaring victoriously, only for the Bob-Omb to lose its footing and fall into his mouth. Mario uses this opportunity to kick him off the bridge and into the river, where he explodes.Back in the other dimension, peace returns - flowers and vegetation bloom in the desert while the city's smog is gone and now bathed in sunlight.


The Mario brothers are honoured, a street party held for their rescuing deeds while Daisy smashes a bottle of champagne across their brand new van. Mario notices two Japanese businessmen who Daniella tells him want to buy the rights to his life story, but are interrupted by Iggy and Spike, wearing the same white overalls the plumbers are wearing, complete with Super Mario Bros. logo. They're required for an emergency plumbing job, so they scoot off on their way, blowing dust onto Doug, the rival plumber from the start.





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