Super Mario Bros. Movie: Chris Pratt Is Changing What About The Iconic Character?

Chris Pratt and a whole host of other A-list celebrities have been cast in the Super Mario Bros film from Nintendo and Illumination

By Doug Norrie

super mario bros. party game cover chris pratt

Eat your hearts out classic video game character lovers, there is a big production coming down the pike with some major names attached. Super Mario Bros. is getting a feature-length animated movie and it is jam-packed with Hollywood heavy hitters and talent voicing roles. Deadline reported that Chris Pratt will take on the voice of the iconic Mario character and he’s going to be joined by a number of other A-list celebrities in what could be a fantastic, and long overdue take on the character and this world. 

But for a story about a pair of plumbers saving a princess, there’s been a surprising amount of drama surrounding the upcoming movie. And a lot of it has to do with the casting. Here’s everything we know about that, along with everything there is to know about the Super Mario Bros. movie.


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Considering all the popular franchises Chris Pratt is already a part of — Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, The Lego Movie — you might imagine that the news that he would join the Super Mario family would be met with shrieks of joy. You would be incorrect.

When Pratt’s casting in the Super Mario Bros. movie was announced, Twitter erupted in anger. On one hand, Pratt has been a subject of controversy ever since an early 2019 tweet from Elliot Page connected Pratt to an allegedly anti-LGBTQ church. On the other, many took the casting as proof of whitewashing, since Pratt — unlike Mario or his brother Luigi — isn’t Italian. Even John Leguizamo, who starred as Luigi alongside the late Bob Hoskins in the much-maligned 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. got in on the criticism, tweeting his regret that there were no people of color among the leads.

In response to the backlash, producer Chris Meledandri expressed his understanding as an Italian-American over the whitewashing concerns. He did not give specifics — presumably to avoid giving away spoilers — but the producer explained that the usual over-the-top “It’s-a-me, Mario” voice usually associated with Mario will not be “the tenor of the performance throughout the film.”


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There’s no firm date yet on when Super Mario Bros. will hit theaters and/or streaming. In fact, we don’t even know yet what the exact title will be. Head over to the flick’s IMDb page, and you will be met with the poetic Untitled Illumination Entertainment Project. We can only narrow it down by year. Super Mario Bros., or whatever it’s called, should be released in 2022.


chris pratt

Joining Chris Pratt in Super Mario Bros. will be a number of other folks whose stars are on the rise. For starters, Anya Taylor-Joy will play Princess Peach, she who needed saving in the original game and has been a mainstay in the franchise throughout. Taylor-Joy is, of course, coming off masterful work in The Queen’s Gambit and has a number of other high-profile projects in the works as well. Then there will be Charlie Day as Luigi, the other half of the brother pairing. 

And it doesn’t stop there with the Super Mario Bros casting. Chris Pratt will be interacting with Seth Rogen who is going to voice the character of Donkey Kong, which means we are going back to some of the character’s original video game roots. There’s also Jack Black as the evil Bowser and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad. Fred Armisen will play Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson is Kamek and the great Sebastian Maniscalco is Spike. This cast is just completely loaded, one of the truly star-studded animated features to come down the pike in some time. And why shouldn’t it draw the best and brightest? Super Mario seems as old as video games themselves. 


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Chris Pratt will also have a solid director team helming Super Mario Bros. with Teen Titans Go! creators Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic taking the reins. The production is a joint venture between Nintendo and Illumination which has hits like Sing, the Despicable Me franchise, The Secret Life of Pets, and Dr. Seuss adaptations The Lorax and The Grinch under their belts. This is shaping up like the movie adaptation we’ve been waiting for for decades now. The 1993 live-action movie didn’t pass muster and since then the character and his cronies have been in a holding pattern. Apparently, the script and team were good enough for this one to draw some major names to the cast. It’s an excellent sign. 

Expect to see Chris Pratt, Any-Taylor Joy, Seth Rogen, Jack Black and the rest of the crew hit the screen in Super Mario Bros next year. With the casting set and production set to get underway shortly, the film already has a Christmas season release date set for December 21, 2022. And this might just be the start of things. If Super Mario Bros. is a success, we should expect to see more Nintendo characters making their way to the big screen in short order. Additionally, there is a very good chance this first movie is just the beginning of a major movie franchise going forward with plenty of Super Mario stories to tell. 


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The internet is not happy. Go figure. When Chris Pratt was announced to be voicing the role of Mario in the upcoming Super Mario Bros movie, the backlash didn’t waste time coming fast and furious. They went after Pratt for not being of Italian American descent. They also went after the hiring of Charlie Day as Luigi. The concern centered around how offensive fans felt Pratt’s representation of Mario would be as he has never been heard delivering an Italian accent. The shots taken at these two prompted Pratt to finally address the concerns.

“I worked really closely with the directors and trying out a few things and landed on something that I’m really proud of and can’t wait for people to see and hear,” Pratt said to Variety. “It’s an animated voiceover narrative. It’s not a live-action movie. I’m not gonna be wearing a plumber suit running all over. I’m providing a voice for an animated character, and it is updated and unlike anything you’ve heard in the Mario world before.” Not only did Pratt come to his own defense, but so did one of the film’s producers, Chris Melandri, who also happens to be the founder and CEO of Illumination studios.

“We are collaborating with Chris and his experienced team to not just create a character-licensed film, but a new piece of entertainment which brings ‘Super Mario Bros.’ to life on the screen, and allows everyone to enjoy whether or not they know about the game,” Melandri told Deadline. “When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should. I’m not sure this is the smartest defense, but as a person who has Italian-American heritage, I feel I can make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian-Americans…I think we’re going to be just fine.”


Chris Pratt had a little bit of fun when he took to his Instagram announcing that he was going to be the voice of Mario, and maybe this is one of the things that set the internet ablaze. Pratt explained how when he was a kid the Super Mario games was one of his favorites and how he used to “steal quarters” from the near by wishing well so he could play his favorite game. But as he told the story, he toyed with the Super Mario voice, saying “It’s-a-me. Mario.” He assured his fans that isn’t Mario’s real voice, but he did get a laugh out of it.


While there is no exact release date, there is an expected date. Illumination has tentatively set April 7, 2023 as the day fans will get to hear Chris Pratt’s take on one of the most iconic video game characters ever created. The date is in flux because Illumination may be waiting for an exact date Universal Studios in Hollywood will be opening their new Super Nintendo World at the theme park. At the moment, Universal Studios says Super Nintendo World will be opening in early 2023. Rest assured, the movie release will somehow coincide with the opening of the new theme area at Universal Studios.