Back in 2018, Nintendo announced that it was partnering with Illumination to bring a “Super Mario Bros.” animated movie to the big screen. Since then, the project hasn’t received much of a public update, until today, September 23rd, 2021. During Nintendo’s Direct presentation, Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto stopped by to announce the movie’s principle voice cast, alongside when to expect the film to hit theaters.
The elephant in the room, so to say, when it comes to the cast, is the hiring of Chris Pratt for the role of Mario. Despite his initial surge in popularity from portraying Star Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the actor has come under fire for his politics and link to a church that is rumored to be anti-LGBT+. Pratt has denied the allegations about his church supposed lack of acceptance, but suffice to say, Twitter has already been voicing thoughts about Pratt as Mario, and it hasn’t been pleasant.
Maybe the biggest casting surprise though, and a welcome one at that, is Anya Taylor-Joy voicing Peach. Taylor-Joy’s star has been consistently rising since her breakout performance in 2016’s “Split,” and 2020’s “The Queen’s Gambit” has only further propelled her into the Hollywood A-list. Having her as Peach should be a big win for the film, as well as for the character herself.
Luigi is being portrayed by “Charlie Day,” best known for his long-running role as Charlie in the series, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” His manic, and neurotic energy seems perfect for the role of the typically cowardly brother of Mario.
The antagonist, Bowser, will be performed by Jack Black. Kind of a mixed feeling on this one; Jack Black is a consistently strong voice talent, but it wouldn’t be a stretch either to consider him to be a bit predictable of a choice. Could it work for Bowser? Sure. Is it an overly safe selection that may have been better served by an outside the box choice? Yes.
It’s interesting to note that the character of Toad seems to be substantial enough that Nintendo announced he’ll be voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and that he was listed among the principle cast members, as opposed to a lesser side-character. No offense to poor Toad, but he often times gets put aside in favor of the bigger Mario names unless it’s time to break out the Go-Karts or a third or fourth player in “New Super Mario Bros. Wii.”
Maybe the biggest information drop of all is announcing that Donkey Kong will be in the film, played by Seth Rogen. I’m picturing it in my head, and I can hear it. I wouldn’t really have put that voice with Donkey Kong before hearing the casting news, but not that it’s out there, I think it could be a great choice.
But what about Mario’s long time voice actor, Charles Martinet? He’s given voice to the famous plumber for literally, decades. Well, Nintendo did confirm that he will be in the film in a series of cameo roles. If I had to guess, I’m thinking that we may see a Wario or Waluigi cameo, both of which are characters that Martinet has also voiced since their inception. While Martinet’s comical take on Mario might not be suited for a full-length film, it would be perfect for bit parts with Wario. It’s also nice to just have him included considering how much Nintendo owes to Martinet for bringing Mario to life for so long.
The film will be coming out in theaters for the holiday season of 2022, so we’re a little over a year away from seeing Mario hit the big screens for his …well, not his actual screen debut, but the first one Nintendo will actually want to acknowledge as his debut. The less said about the original “Super Mario Bros.” live-action film, the better.
It does have its cult following, but here’s hoping that this upcoming release will actually captivate a wide audience in a more pleasant way.