Live-Action ‘Mario’ Movie Could Give Animated Hit a Run for Its Money

in Movies & TV

Mario screaming during Mario Kart in 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'

Credit: Universal Studios / Nintendo / Illumination

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) collected a lot of gold coins when it arrived in theaters this year. $1.36 billion, to be precise. Despite getting off to a rocky start with critics, the 3D animated reboot would become the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, and the third highest-grossing animated film of all time, to name but a few “achievements.”

Now, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a live-action Super Mario Bros. movie, but our unreliable memories likely have very little to do with the success of the recent adaptation, and more to do with just how painful and forgettable the 1993 theatrical film is. Either way, Super Mario Bros.: The Movie (1993) is often remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Mario, Peach and Toadstool looking out over Mushroom Kingdom in 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'
Credit: Universal Studios / Nintendo / Illumination

Related: “Go Watch the Movie, Then We Can Talk”, Chris Pratt Claps Back at ‘Mario’ Haters

The 1993 film starred the late Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, and it deviates significantly from the source material (the many video games that preceded it), instead taking place in a quasi-futuristic dimension inhabited by half-human/half-dinosaur hybrids rather than anything familiar. There’s also a strange amount of focus on fungus.

There’s something oddly ambitious about Super Mario Bros.: The Movie, though, and while the special effects have aged horribly (which probably started the moment it hit theaters), there’s no denying it wields a certain charm that’s lacking in the new movie. Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo are also great fun to watch as the titular siblings.

Mario grimacing in 'The Super Mario Bros Movie'
Credit: Universal Studios / Nintendo / Illumination

Related: 10 Nintendo Franchises To Follow Up ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’

Unfortunately, the film failed to collect enough gold coins at the box office, grossing only $38.9 million against its $42 — 48 million budget. It was also panned by critics and fans of the Mario franchise. While it enjoys a cult status nowadays like a lot of cheesy ’90s films, it can hardly be described as an underrated flick. An underrated guilty pleasure, perhaps.

That said, the film is now getting a very special 4K release to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Per Screen RantUmbrella Home Entertainment is releasing a massive box set that includes a 4K Ultra HD edition of the 1993 film.

Mario growing in 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'
Credit: Universal Studios / Nintendo / Illumination

Related: Nintendo Officially Retires Super Mario

The aptly named “Trust the Fungus 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” comes with three discs, two Blu-ray discs, and an absurd amount of additional features, including 4K restoration, a 250-page hardback bound book featuring production materials, interviews, and artwork, a 200-page bound book of scripts with early drafts, a sticker sheet, newly restored deleted scenes, original trailer, audio commentary, and lots more.

So many features, in fact, that if Mario were to walk beneath the boxset and headbutt it, he’d have trouble collecting everything that comes out.

What the boxset doesn’t have is the ability to go back in time and right the wrongs of the film before it hit theaters, but it’s still likely to appease many Mario fans, perhaps even those highly critical of the live-action adaptation. As such, it could give this year’s box office-smashing The Super Mario Bros. Movie a run for its money (or gold coins).

Donkey Kong on fire while Mario holds a mushroom in 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'
Credit: Universal Studios / Nintendo / Illumination

Related: Next ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Gets First Official Trailer

Of course, the special 4K edition of the Bob Hoskins film can hardly compete with $1.36 billion (that would be a first). But if successful, it may encourage Nintendo and Universal Pictures to consider another live-action Super Mario reboot in the future.

A plumber might say,  “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why make another live-action film when Mario has found its place in animation? A sequel might be inevitable, but why settle for one continuity of films when you can have two or more? Just look at almost every other franchise out there: Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — the list goes on.

If Mario does get the live-action treatment again, which actor could suit up as the super-powered plumber? Let’s a go!

Who could play Mario in a new live-action reboot?

Oscar Isaac

(L to R), Finn, Chewie, Rey, C-3PO, and Poe on Pasaana in 'The Rise of Skywalker'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Oscar Isaac has been a household name since his debut as Resistance fighter Poe Dameron in the first Sequel Trilogy film, Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015). Isaac isn’t known for his comedic skills, as he tends to take on quite serious roles outside Star Wars, but we’d love to see him shake things up and play Mario in a live-action reboot.

Chris Pratt

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Malta on his motorbike in 'Jurassic World Dominion'
Credit: Universal Studios

Chris Pratt voices Mario in the 2023 movie, so he’s an obvious choice for live action. That said, many were critical of the decision to cast him as the character due to the fact he isn’t Italian American. But hopefully, now that everyone loves the film, audiences will be far more accepting if the Jurassic World star lands the role in a real-world setting.

Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd encounters Stay Puft in 'Ghostbusters Afterlife'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Paul Rudd is known for changing size and exploring other worlds as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so stepping into Mario’s shoes shouldn’t be a problem! Rudd recently voiced Mondo Gecko in another 3D animated hit this year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023). He also rocks a mustache.

John C Reilly

John C Reilly in the 'Kong: Skull Island' trailer
Credit: Warner Bros.

Now, here’s a star with some solid comedy acting chops. John C Reilly is best known for voicing Ralph in Disney’s two Wreck-It Ralph movies, but even when he’s starring in semi-serious films like Kong: Skull Island (2017), he still comes armed with some much-needed humor. And how about Reilly’s Step Brothers (2008) co-star Will Ferrell as Luigi?!

Steve Carell

Michael Scott doing magic in 'The Office'
Credit: NBCUniversal

This one’s a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to see Steve Carell play Mario in a live-action reboot? Carell will forever be known for playing the hilarious narcissistic manager Michael Scott in The Office (2005 — 2013), but we’d love to see him slip into the iconic red hat and blue dungarees. And Rainn Wilson (Dwight) as Luigi? But of course!

Pedro Pascal

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in 'The Last of Us'
Credit: HBO

We’ve added The Mandalorian (2019) star Pedro Pascal to our list because he’s technically already played Mario in live action. Earlier this year, to commemorate the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Pascal starred as the iconic plumber in a Saturday Night Live skit, which is just amazing, and we need to see more. This is the way!

Check it out below:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Luigi

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robin in 'The Dark Knight Rises'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

It isn’t “game over” without an honorable mention. We think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be perfect as Mario’s brother, Luigi. What is it about this actor that just screams sidekick? Take no offense, Gordon-Levitt — we think you’re great as John Blake/Robin in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)! But now it’s time to ditch Gotham City for Mushroom Kingdom.

A live-action Mario reboot is not in development, and though we should probably be careful what we wish for, such a film could follow a similar format to the Sonic the Hedgehog films, mixing live action with CG animation. That said, it’s likely this year’s 3D animated blockbuster will be the first of many sequels and spinoffs to come.

Are there any new Mario games coming out?

There’s a brand-new Mario game due for imminent release. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (2023) is a 2D platform game developed for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s the first traditional “side-scrolling” title in the Mario video game series since New Super Mario Bros. U (2012).

Check out the trailer below, courtesy of Nintendo UK on YouTube:

Related: ‘Barbie’ Has Officially Dethroned ‘Super Mario Bros.’

Super Mario Bros. Wonder will be released on October 20, 2023, on the Nintendo Switch.

Where can I watch The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now available to watch at home.

Check out the official trailer for the movie below:

Related: Nintendo Retired Super Mario To Make Way for Princess Peach

Per the official website for the film, here’s the synopsis:

Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (collaborators on Teen Titans Go!, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies) from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel (The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Minions: The Rise of Gru), the film stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek and Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike.

The film is produced by Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and by Shigeru Miyamoto for Nintendo. The film will be co-financed by Universal Pictures and Nintendo and released worldwide by Universal Pictures.

The film stars Chris Pratt (Mario), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach), Charlie Day (Luigi), Jack Black (Bowser), Keegan-Michael Key (Toad), Fred Armisen (Cranky Kong), Kevin Michael Richardson (Kamek), Sebastian Maniscalo (Foreman Spike), Seth Rogen (Donkey Kong), and Khary Payton (The Penguin King).

“Trust the Fungus 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” comes at a whopping price of $100 (you’d better start collecting those gold coins), and is set for release in January, 2024.

Will you be revisiting the live-action Mario movie? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

Comments Off on Live-Action ‘Mario’ Movie Could Give Animated Hit a Run for Its Money