super mario movie talking

Super Mario Bros. Movie: Should Mario Talk?

author byline riley

It felt like a long time coming, but rumours of a Super Mario Bros. film helmed by the studio responsible for Despicable Me and Minions, Illumination, ended up panning out. Nintendo confirmed as much during a recent string of tweets that cemented a number of plans for the company – including a new Mario Kart game for mobile devices and a September launch for its Switch online service.

It was an odd way to make such large-scale and exciting announcements, but fans have remained unsure of whether or not a big screen adaptation of the character can be done properly at all following the live-action train wreck that was 1993’s Super Mario Bros. – although it will be tough to top that. Additionally, given the one-line mentality of Mario in Nintendo’s games, will the character actually speak for the entirety of the film?

There are a few ways that Illumination can go about dealing with the issue pertaining to Mario’s dialogue (or lack thereof) during the new Super Mario Bros. movie.

It’s possible to recast the crimson protagonist with a big-name actor in order to further pull in casual moviegoers – such as Ryan Reynolds taking on the role of Detective Pikachu in the live-action Pokémon movie of the same name – although there will almost certainly be backlash from core fans following such a decision. If that’s not the direction that co-producers Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri want to take, however, then it seems likely that voice actor Charles Martinet will retain his ongoing role as Mario for the feature film. Still, this provides it’s own set of challenges.

Mario has always been limited in what he says by design, as the focus of any core iteration of the series has been on gameplay rather than narrative. Of course, with a film, gameplay isn’t a part of the experience in any form, so a story needs to take centre stage. This is where things become tricky, as the character’s voice (namely its inflection and tone) almost encourages him to be limited in what he says. Fortunately, Illumination has proven to be a rather talented studio when it comes to providing personalities to on-screen characters that utilize only a few words.

I’m referring, of course, to its adored Minion mascots. So it’s entirely possible that other characters will carry the spoken plot, while allowing for Mario and even his brother Luigi to push the narrative without much dialogue.

super mario movie minions

One way or the other, there’s little doubt that the hero will speak in his transition over to the big screen since the Italian plumber’s mamma mias, grunts, and yippees have become a massive part of the character; his exclamations are almost comparable to Bruce Lee’s now iconic battle cries. There’s just no getting rid of those aspects without losing a major piece of the character himself, but there’s also the chance that Nintendo and Illumination want to push the protagonist in a new direction entirely by providing him with a frequent speaking role.

This sounds odd at first, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Martinet has voiced Mario while conversing with others. The actor often participates in official Nintendo events where he assumes the role of Mario to interact with fans, and these interactions all involve quite a bit of speaking. In this light, it appears as if the Mushroom Kingdom mainstay could very well have a fully-voiced appearance if that is indeed part of the plan for the forthcoming feature film.

At this point in time, it sounds as if the animated movie is still in very early development. With no release date or trailer drop in sight, fans will have to remain patient in regards to how Super Mario will make the transition to film this time around, but with the creator of the series, Shigeru Miyamoto, onboard it’s safe to say that there’s still hope for the latest motion picture adaptation of the franchise.

Do you think Mario should speak in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. film from Illumination and Nintendo?

You can follow Riley on Twitter (@TheRileyLittle) for more news on film, gaming, and more.

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