Why the Super Mario Movie is Bound to be a Big Success

And why Chris Pratt as Mario is no reason to worry

Jacob Goldman, Contributing Writer

On Thursday, gaming company Nintendo released a teaser trailer for the upcoming video game movie based on their iconic “Super Mario” franchise, known simply as The Super Mario Bros. Movie, during their online Nintendo Direct presentation. 

The trailer introduced the movie’s visual style and elements of the plot. The trailer also revealed the voices of the main characters. Mario himself will be voiced by Chris Pratt, while his chief nemesis Bowser will be voiced by Jack Black. The trailer also introduced the side characters Toad and Kamek, voiced by Keegan Michael-Key and Kamek, respectively. Other cast members who were not spotlighted in the trailer include Charlie Day, Anya Taylor Joy, and Seth Rogen, who are due to voice the characters of Luigi, Princess Peach, and Donkey Kong, respectively.

When “Mario” creator Shigeru Miyamoto first announced the cast of the film during a Nintendo Direct on September 23, 2021, heavy criticism was directed toward the celebrity casting of the actors, specifically Chris Pratt’s Mario. Many Nintendo fans wondered why Pratt’s American accent was chosen for the Italian plumber, especially since Charles Martinet, the voice actor who had portrayed the character in video games since 1992, is still actively voicing Mario. Before the teaser came out, there was also some worry by the fandom over Nintendo’s decision to leave the movie to the hands of Illumination, the same animation company that is responsible for the “Despicable Me” and “The Secret Life of Pets” franchises.

In the teaser, some fans’ complaints were seemingly addressed, however. For example, the teaser makes it possible to hear Pratt’s attempt to make a soft Brooklyn accent for the character. While the accent is a far cry from Martinet’s portrayal as a plumber with a thick Italian accent, Pratt’s accent does work well with the origins of the character. When Mario was first introduced as a protagonist in the hit 1981 arcade classic Donkey Kong, Mario was, according to the game, an Italian carpenter living in New York. By the time the first Super Mario Bros. game was released in 1985, his profession had switched to plumbing, and arguably the most famous video game character was born.

Among other fan complaints over the mere existence of The Super Mario Bros. Movie is its status as a “video game movie.” Ever since the first video game movies began to be made in the early 1990s, films based on video games have carried a reputation for having low qualities of stories and acting, as their stories and characters often derive greatly from their source material. In fact, one of the first video game movies, released in 1993, was Super Mario Bros. Starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, respectively, the movie was a critical and commercial failure, bombing at the box office and allegedly cursing the success of all future video game movies. Up until 2019, no movies based on video games got a “Fresh” rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. Since then, only three video game movies have: Detective Pikachu, The Angry Birds Movie 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Yet, I think that the future of The Super Mario Bros. Movie remains ever bright. After all, the trailer promised many exciting prospects for the film. The animation looks suitably beautiful, Illumination’s trademark humor lands for the material, and Jack Black is menacing in his role. And with even more footage sure to be released in the coming months, I cannot wait to see more.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is due to be released on April 7, 2023, in the US. It will be available to stream on Peacock 45 days after release.