The Casting Controversy of the Super Mario Bros. Movie

Joseph Lewin ’23


Is Chris Pratt really the right choice for Mario? Following the star-studded casting announcement for the Mario Movie at Nintendo Direct in September 2021, there was outrage and confusion as to why the role of Mario, the lovable plumber, was given to Chris Pratt.

An extremely talented man well-known for Parks and Recreation and Guardians of the Galaxy, the announcement left many die-hard Mario fans confused and furious as to why the original voice actor for Mario, Charles Martinet, was only given “surprise cameos” throughout the movie.  

The casting choice for Mario is a massive job. The actor has even larger shoes to fill to represent the popular plumber. The failure of the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993 left fans with much disappointment and a loss of confidence in Nintendo. Appearing first in the 2021 Nintendo direct trailer was the King Koopa himself, Bowser, voiced by Jack Black, conquering the Penguin Kingdom, likely to steal the star hidden inside. Then the trailer cuts to Mario flying out of a pipe into the mushroom kingdom where Toad greets him, with Mario saying, “What is this place?” and “Mushroom Kingdom, here we come!” Seeing as how in the trailer Mario expresses confusion about where he is, his origin is not in the Mushroom Kingdom, but instead, he is likely from “New Donk City” a clone of New York City in the Mario universe. It sounds nothing like the lovable plumber that we all know and love. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Pratt is one of my favourite actors, but he seems like an odd choice for the role. In the trailer, we hear Mario speaking in an accented voice. It is not Italian, but instead closer to Chris Pratt speaking in a “Brooklyn accent”, while some have compared it to Pratt’s normal voice. 

I felt a little confused as to how Chris Pratt’s Mario sounds, and we will have to get used to his take on the character. Playing a collection of Mario games over the span of a decade has made me used to Martinet’s take on Mario, as well as millions of other Mario fans. Although Martinet is not voicing Mario in the movie, he will go on to voice Mario in the video games to come.  

Among the casting announcement was who would be taking the role of Foreman Spike. Foreman Spike is a character we know very little about. However, devoted Mario fans may recognize him from the video game Wrecking Crew (1984) as Mario’s boss, which gives us a clue as to Mario’s origin in the film. In the Wrecking Crew, Mario works as a demolition worker, which may be Mario’s occupation in the movie. The Super Mario Bros. film releases worldwide on April 7, 2023. 

Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment

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