The Mario movie is going to be a thing that exists?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie teaser trailer has been released. Up until now, it didn’t seem real to me. While my hopes are not high for this film, that doesn’t mean a disaster is necessarily guaranteed, right?
Mario is the most iconic videogame character in history. For over 40 years, he’s been in some of the most memorable and influential games in history. Few would disagree that he’s a pop-culture behemoth. It may be easy to ask that with all of this star power (pun intended), how has he not been on the big/small screen before? The answer is he has.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (1989) was an animated children’s show that was best remembered for having wrestling personality Lou Albano voice the titular Italian plumber. It was cancelled after one season with 52 episodes and is barely remembered today.
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), based on the game of the same name, was released to little fanfare. It was cancelled after one season, only releasing a measly 26 episodes. Super Mario World (1991) befell the same fate, being cancelled after one season of only 13 episodes. I didn’t know either series existed until I began researching this topic.
This has been Mario’s experience in animation, an unmitigated failure. It may have been thirty years since his last animated appearance (aside from in video games, of course), but I still am apprehensive about welcoming his return. Also, most of the episodes of these animated series are available on Prime. I don’t know why you’d want to watch it, but that’s your business.
Mario’s more infamous appearance came in his first-ever feature film, Super Mario Bros. (1993). The film was an unmitigated disaster, with ticket sales failing to break even on the film’s budget. Critics, audiences, the production staff and actors all hated it. Bob Hoskins, who played Mario, claimed that working in the film was a nightmare and that he and the actor who played Luigi would get drunk before shooting and between scenes.
Few concepts have found less success outside their primary medium than Mario. That said, I think The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be successful, at least from a financial perspective. The word is out about the film; Nintendo and Illumination have dumped millions into advertising. I suspect two types of people will come to watch the film; people who are hoping to love it and those expecting to hate it. Both will come out in droves.
When the voice actors were announced, the entire internet laughed simultaneously. Much has been made of non-voice actors added to a film for credibility, but The Super Mario Bros. Movie takes it to the next level. Luigi is voiced by Charlie Day, Jack Black voices Bowser, Seth Rogan voices Donkey Kong, and perhaps most incredulously, Chris Pratt is voicing Mario.
Aside from Chris Pratt being a laughable choice for Mario, I think what’s particularly infuriating is that Mario has already had a voice actor. For the last 30 years, Mario has been voiced in his games by Charles Martinet. It’s already been revealed that he’s making a cameo appearance in the film; why can’t he voice Mario?
The teaser was recently released, and it looks… decent? I dislike Illumination, and I think their animation style is lazy, but I must admit that everything in the teaser looked visually attractive. The whole Bowser sequence was fun- strangely, I couldn’t tell that Jack Black was voicing Bowser. Mario sounds bizarre to me, perhaps it’s because I’m still fuming about his casting, but something sounds off.
Overall I think the teaser asks more questions than it answers. The animation looks promising, but some of the settings and voice acting make me nervous. When it comes out, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be one of the year’s biggest films, but that doesn’t guarantee quality.
Hopefully, Mario can star in something well-received that isn’t a video game, but if history and optics are any indications, we should hold our breath.