The Super Mario Bros. Will Level Up to the Big Screen in April 2023


("Mario Kart Wii promo event, NYC, 4/24/08" / Rob DiCaterino / flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Mario of the “Super Mario Bros” is an Italian plumber whose determination to rescue his beloved Princess Peach have driven a decades-long video game franchise. Fans worldwide hope the 2023 animated film will live up to their high expectations.

Maggie Craig, Editor-In-Chief

On Thursday Oct. 6, Nintendo released their first Super Mario Bros. Movie Direct, a livestream event which gave the world a first look at The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), an upcoming animated film about everyone’s favorite Italian plumber.

As a long-time Nintendo player and fan, the teaser for the movie far exceeded my expectations, and I cannot wait to see this film on the big screen. 

In the livestream of the announcement, the Director of Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto, explained his excitement about the film. 

“Finally, the world of Super Mario Brothers will become an animated movie,” Shigeru stated in the livestream. “We’ve been working on this movie together with Chris Meledandri from Illumination for a long time, from brainstorming all the way to production.”

Chris Melendandri is the founder and CEO of Illumination, the studio behind “Despicable Me”, and was also featured in the Nintendo Direct livestream to discuss the progress of the film. Melendandri explained that they complete the animation in a week and will soon begin lighting, compositing and music. 

Together, Miyamoto and Melendandri also introduced two of the main voice actors starring in the film. Making an appearance in the livestream were actors Chris Pratt, who voices Mario, and Jack Black, who voices King Bowser. 

Chris Pratt, most famous for playing Star-Lord in Marvel’s hugely successful “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, will voice Mario in the 2023 film. Pratt’s casting was announced to mixed reviews. (“Chris Pratt” / Gage Skidmore / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pratt and Black made short but sentimental statements about their enthusiasm for the film and their respective characters. 

“I am so proud to have been able to collaborate with…Miyamoto-san as well as the entire Nintendo and Illumination team on this cinematic experience,” said Black. 

After they introduced the two actors, Miyamoto revealed the first teaser trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023). The teaser opened with a fiery scene of King Bowser’s kingdom landing in the icy terrain of the blue penguins, recurring characters in the Mario universe. 

Kamek (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson), Bowser’s wizarding right-hand man, proclaimed, “Behold, the king of the koopas,” before stepping aside to reveal the movie’s (and franchise’s) main antagonist, the sinister King Bowser. Here, the audience got to witness Black’s low, monstrous growl, very characteristic of the franchise’s antagonist, and like the koopas in the teaser, we all quaked to our bones. 

Jack Black, famous for his roles in film franchises such as “Jumanji” (2017) and “Kungfu Panda” (2008) will voice the upcoming Mario film’s antagonist, King Bowser. Black’s casting has thus far received positive praise from critics and fans alike. (“Jack Black Kung Fu Panda” / Eva Rinaldi / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

In a terrifying grumble, Bowser roared, “Open the gates!” and the teaser trailer unveiled the sheer might of the villain as the penguin army was rendered helpless against Bowser’s koopa battalion. 

Abruptly, the scene shifted to the lovable video game protagonist shooting out of a green pipe and bouncing off of the iconic red and white mushrooms. At this moment, fans all around the world got a first listen of Pratt’s Mario. Ever since Nintendo revealed that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star would be voicing the famous character, there have been mixed feelings about Pratt’s ability to deliver Mario’s trademark Italian accent and lines.

Some fans also believe that Nintendo “stunt casted” Chris Pratt to garner more popularity for the film.

While at first I was also a little underwhelmed by Pratt’s voice acting, I’ve decided to keep an open mind as it is just a teaser trailer. After all, when the 2020 “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie faced criticisms after the release of their first trailer, Paramount responded by redesigning the blue hedgehog so that he more closely resembled his iconic video game appearance. Perhaps the backlash surrounding Pratt’s voice acting will result in Illumination deciding to re-record some lines or adjust the pitch of his voice. 

However, it was a delight hearing Keegan-Michael Key’s rendition of Toad. We heard Toad’s familiar high-pitched rasp through his exclamation, “Do not touch that mushroom, you’ll die!”  

At the end of the Nintendo Direct livestream, fans around the world shot out of their seats at the scene featuring a “Luigi’s Mansion”-esque setting. There, we heard Luigi’s voice actor, Charlie Day, express worry while a dry bones swarm chased the beloved green plumber. 

Despite some reservations about Pratt’s casting, I cannot express how excited I am for this film. The Illumination animation style is reminiscent of the vibrant 3D animation from the later games. The three settings featured in the trailer reflect many of the worlds in traditional, beloved Mario games. And the sheer enthusiasm Miyamoto has for this project is reassuring to all Nintendo fans who don’t want another repeat of the 1993 film.

Here’s to hoping that when the film releases in April 2023, fans will find our own personal Princess Peach (a Mario film adaptation that respects the sanctity of the beloved source material) hasn’t been moved to yet another castle.