Who really should be voicing Mario, Luigi, Bowser and more.
Last week, amid a series of hallucinogenic announcements, Nintendo confirmed that the Mario Bros. were heading towards Hollywood again. The news made me shiver; the first Super Mario Bros. movie. was released in 1993, at the absolute peak of the company’s success in the early ’90s, and it remains the most lopsided film ever made. In the 1993 adaptation of Mario, Mario and Luigi are plumbers from Brooklyn who have been transported to a terrifying parallel underground dimension where King Koopa, played by the immortal Dennis Hopper, reigns supreme. He was confused with plot holes, extremely dark, and possessed a tertiary connection at best with actual Mario principles. We have yet to see this new animated adaptation, of Despicable Me studio Illumination, but the announced casting is already driving us crazy.
Because, dear reader, Mario – that former Italian plumber from Brooklyn – is played by Chris Pratt, who conjures up gruesome images of the man also known as Star Lord turning to the screen and saying, “Yeah, It happened “after conquering the world 1-1. It just got worse and worse from there. The producers of Universal chose Charlie Day as Luigi. Donkey Kong? Seth Rogan. Princess Peach? Anya Taylor-Joy, most recent seen doing drugs and playing chess in The Queen’s Gambit. Fred Armisen is sort of there, giving a voice to Cranky Kong, a character who has exclusively appeared in video games that don’t feature Mario. It’s like someone put the last decade of box office superiority into a blender. Nothing has been more emblematic of the gurgling agony of Hollywood.
I have been a longtime Mario fan and am appalled at how Universal Pictures dishonored these characters. So think of this as an open letter presenting the law way to cast a Mario movie. If we could get CGI Sonic’s teeth out, surely we can get Chris Pratt away from this production before it’s too late.
Mario – Robert De Niro
This should be De Niro’s last role. Everyone thinks De Niro is going to come out on the back of a Scorsese project—Irishman 2 or whatever, but no way. His swan song will find Robert saying bullshit like “Bob-omb” and “Koopa Troopa” in his sweet low baritone, aged to a crass silence as he enters his 80s. It makes more sense than you might think: De Niro and Mario have similar body types (short sex symbols, sturdy, and unmatched in the very specific lane they dominate), and unlike Chri Pratt, he’s in fact Italian. The original Super Mario Bros. featured Bob Hoskins as Mario, in one of the most psychotic and distressing Hollywood couples of all time. De Niro would honor this legacy. Also, could we ask Scorsese to direct?
Luigi – Jared Leto
Luigi is horrible. He’s a colossal, slender plumber in suspenders, literally twice the size of nearly every other humanoid in the Mushroom Kingdom. If we are to actualize his bizarre Boschian anxiety, we must engage the most committed method actor available. Leto would go the extra mile, mastering all facets of Luigi’s bizarre gestalt. (Go-kart driving, tennis, extended stays in a haunted mansion.) We’ll end up with hundreds of hours of gear, almost all of which will be doomed to the deep recesses of the Criterion Edition.
Bowser – Kevin Hart
I think we have to go with Kevin Hart here. All animated films, by their nature, are cynical merchandising ploys designed to move reams of plastic toys off Target shelves all over the world. That means Mario’s entire cast will be reduced to chatterbox hookup machines, filling the runtime with some of the worst pop culture references you’ve ever heard in your entire life. Bowser will therefore continue a great American tradition initiated by Mike Myers’ Shrek and Eddie Murphy’s Donkey: a clumsy villain who will absolutely say “HATERS GONNA HATE” after having loaded Mario in a cannon or other. Kevin Hart is perfect for this role. No one else is approaching it.
Toad – Asia Kate Dillon
Everyone has heated up about the lack of Italian representation in the two lead roles, but Toad doesn’t canonically subscribe to gender binaries. Seems like a great opportunity to bring in some of the most prominent non-binary actors working in Hollywood, to recognize perhaps the most overlooked tenet in the Mario universe. Is it telling that the movie industry is so short in gender non-conforming roles that Toad, a little imp with a mushroom head, represents one of the few opportunities available? Absoutely! But we know that Asia Kate Dillon is going to crush him.
Donkey Kong – Andy Serkis
Why is Donkey Kong in this movie? That’s not a Donkey Kong Country adaptation. Nintendo has made us believe that the legendary Donkey Kong exists in a dimension parallel to all of our Mushroom Boys, so of course Universal stomped on the cannon whenever he had the chance. No matter. If we take this path, we should bring in the master. Andy Serkis should have won an Oscar for the months he spent in a mo-cap suit, wriggling through the mud, breathing incredible life into the impenetrable Smeagol. Do you know what a higher degree of difficulty is? Do the same with Donkey Kong, a literal ape who never uttered a single human word throughout his video game career. Serkis, I imagine, will spend most of his time in front of a green screen spinning his arms so fast that he takes off like a helicopter.
Cranky Kong – Larry David
It’s somehow weirder than the inclusion of Donkey Kong, because at the very least Donkey Kong and Mario faced off in the arcades of the early ’80s. Cranky Kong, on the other hand, never broke the bread with Mario in any capacity. Like seriously, what’s next? Are you going to put Kid Icarus in this thing too? Honestly, Cranky Kong should be played by the late and great Andy Rooney, but since it’s untenable, we suggest Larry David, who embodies Cranky’s defining characteristics of “being mad at everyone” and “not be totally sure why they are here in the first place.
Princess Peach – Tilda Swinton
The Sonic movie was successful because it possessed a benevolent and loving reverence for the absurdity of fiction, and if we’re ever going to come across the same rubicon with the Mario adaptation, then we have to finally dig in. what’s up with Princess Peach. Here we have a woman who lives her whole life in slavery, because of the complicit machinations of a giant lizard who wants to marry her (?) … except when she is playing golf with the girls or whatever . Who can best bring this Lady Macbeth-like quality to the lead female role? Tilda Swinton, of course! I imagine him deconstructing the character in depth, resulting in a Joker-ish spin-off called PEACH.