Films have often been rupture points for mimetic breakthroughs on the internet. They’re like volcanoes that erupt, shifting the meme landscape to its chaotic whims. The 21st century has already seen several such eruptions. “Shrek.” “Bee Movie.” And now, very likely, the Mario movie starring Chris Pratt.
The trailer features Bowser — with an unsurprisingly spirited performance by Jack Black — attacking the nation of penguins, who famously appeared in the level Cool, Cool Mountain in “Super Mario 64.” In a fight that’s over in seconds, Bowser asks who could dare challenge him. Enter Mario — voiced by Chris Pratt with all the passion of a Chris Pratt character, sounding exactly like Chris Pratt and not at all like the chirpy, “woo hoo” voice of the games, where he is voiced by Charles Martinet.
“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become Mario,” said Chris Pratt, with a straight face, in a statement aired before the trailer.
The film appears to show Mario’s first arrival to the Mushroom Kingdom, mirroring the “isekai” tradition of Japanese science fiction storytelling, where a stranger from another land magically teleports into another unfamiliar world for adventure. The trailer ends with his twin brother Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day (though we’ve yet to hear the character utter a sentence), being chased by ghoulish Dry Bones, a nod to the character’s starring role in the cartoon horror series Luigi’s Mansion.
The trailer follows the release of the movie’s first official poster, which has been heavily scrutinized by fans. Its granted a first look at the Mushroom Kingdom’s warp pipe infrastructure, and prompted a public outcry in some corners: Fans called on Nintendo and Illumination, the studio working on the film, to increase the plumber’s should-be-extraordinary derriere.
The voice cast was unveiled last year by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto in a very matter-of-fact presentation, and internet denizens erupted in laughter and shock as soon as Pratt’s smoldering headshot appeared on screen. The subsequent reveals of the rest of the cast, including Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, only added to the surreal nature of the announcement.
Of additional note is the inclusion of Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) and Cranky Kong (Fred Armisen) in the cast, two Mario-adjacent characters who have spun off their own successful franchise. While it’s not that implausible for these two to appear in this film — they frequently appear in Mario spinoff games — the Kongs’ appearance has fans speculating as to Nintendo’s intentions.
Nintendo’s latest acquisition, CG production company Dynamo Pictures, was officially renamed Nintendo Pictures earlier this week. Nintendo has admitted to having a hands-off approach to previous movie iterations of its intellectual property. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” trailer appears to mark the first instance of direct control by Nintendo over a cinematic venture.