The movie biz was a strange place back in the 1980s. During that decade more than any other, Hollyweird tried adapting anything and everything into a movie if they thought it might make them a buck or two.
Never was this more apparent than in 1989, when Universal Pictures released beloved cult classic (and critical failure) The Wizard, a 96 minute glorified commercial for Nintendo’s ‘Power Glove’ add-on.
The film itself was great (but also terrible). Directed by Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle) and starring perennial child of the ’80s Fred Savage and dial-a-hunk Christian Slater, the plot focused on a trio of friends who travel to California to enter a video games contest that one of them predictably goes on to dominate and master. Before any of this can happen though, they have to overcome the elite gaming snob Lucas Barton, who just so happens to own a mythical peripheral known simply as … pause for dramatic effect … the POWER GLOVE.
If you don’t remember the Power Glove, then you’ve obviously been living under a SEGA sized rock. Designed by a couple of dudes called Grant Goddard and Samuel Cooper for the dastardly sounding Mego Corporation, the futuristic games controller was a literal gauntlet that players could wear to replace the typical NES gamepad of the era. It was big, it was grey, and it looked like the coolest thing you’d ever seen. It was no wonder Nintendo gave it such a majestic sounding name because this piece of kit was legendary!
When wielded by Lucas in The Wizard, the character turns to the others and proclaims “I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad”. Oh, and how prophetic a statement this was – five bazillion memes later and Nintendo still can’t live it down.
In total, Nintendo released 2 compatible games, teased 3 more, and then retired the Power Glove into oblivion, presumably sending it back to the future world where it had come from. The 1980s obviously weren’t quite ready for it.
When you consider that The Wizard is only truly remembered because of its link to the Power Glove, and vice versa, the controller so good it was bad must have been the most expensive flop of all time – the film itself cost $14 million to make, I can’t imagine Nintendo spending that on such an advertisement these days unless they were confident they’d make their money back many times over, which brings us back to our original point, that The Wizard is nothing more than a feature-length toy ad, starring the kid out of The Wonder Years. Can you imagine a movie being released in 2018 that was designed entirely around the Wii Nunchuk or the PlayStation 2 EyeToy? Pah! Not a chance!
Fortunately, no one has come up with such a crazy crossover idea in the years since The Wizard. After all, what could they possibly make? A film about Facebook or the private lives of mobile phone emojis? Yeah right.
Were you one of the chosen few to own the mythical Nintendo Power Glove? Share your memories with us in the comments section below.