The Internet’s Hateboner For Chris Pratt As Mario In Nintendo’s Movie, Explained

The Internet’s Hateboner For Chris Pratt As Mario In Nintendo’s Movie, Explained
Photo: Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Nintendo lobbed a grenade the size of a King Bob-omb at the social fabric of America yesterday when it announced that Hollywood leading man and charming village idiot Chris Pratt would be Mario. That’s right, the Italian plumber is finally re-appearing on the big screen after a nearly 30-year hiatus. The Marvel superhero and former Parks and Rec schlub seemed like the last person Nintendo would tap for the role, so of course that’s exactly what it did.

“Imagine surviving two recessions and a pandemic only to have to endure Chris Pratt as Mario,” tweeted one person. “It’s been a while since we had to come together and cyberbully a movie studio into making sweeping changes to an animated film but i believe we can do it again,” wrote another, referencing that time the collective outcry of the internet forced Paramount Pictures to delay the Sonic movie so visual effects artists could fix his legs. Or as one person put it, “Finding out that Chris Pratt is gonna be Mario is the exact opposite feeling of finding out Idris Elba is Knuckles.

Chris Pratt has become notorious over the past couple years for being the worst of the Hollywood Chrises, at least in certain corners of public opinion. This is why at least one random online individual was able to predict Nintendo’s shocking reveal through the clairvoyant power of shitposting. But still, why are so many people so down on this casting choice, so much so that true statements like “Fred Armisen will voice Cranky Kong” have already been relegated to back-page news?

There are a lot of layers to this fuckery to unravel, so let’s start with the first and most obvious one. People appear to be unenthused first-and-foremost because they are just sick of seeing Chris Pratt’s face everywhere. When the Minnesota-born actor originally broke out as Parks and Recreation’s slacker boyfriend shoe shiner, Andy Dwyer, he was a loveable goof nobody knew much about. That is, aside from the fact that Pratt made them chuckle with his absurd antics on Thursday nights, near the end of the latest soul-crushing work week. He was there if you needed him, optional and on the side like a bowl of roasted peanuts at the bar.

Now you can’t escape him. A decade later he’s Hollywood’s latest attempt to try and manufacture an old-school star. His transformation began with the role of bearded special ops guy responsible for helping capture Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty. Then he was the voice of the box office hit Lego Movie’s eternal optimist everyman. And in 2014 Marvel minted him into the purposefully obnoxious (but likeable) lead for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Since then he’s also become the affable but ripped dinosaur wrangler in three new Jurassic Park movies, reprised the role of Star-Lord across three subsequent Marvel movies, put out a sequel to The Lego Movie, and established himself as an A-list romantic interest by playing across Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers. Just last month he starred in the sci-fi shooter flick, The Tomorrow War, which channelled masculine panic to champion the unsung blue collar white guy to a resounding 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some might say he’s been over exposed. Now he’s also Mario.

Which brings us to the second big mark against Chris Pratt playing Nintendo’s iconic Italian jumper: he’s not Italian. This shouldn’t matter, especially not when it comes to voice acting, but Pratt isn’t exactly instilling confidence right now.

“It’s ah me, ah Mario,” he said in an Instagram video posted last night in the exact same voice I would use if I were pretending to be Chris Pratt pretending to be Mario. “That’s not the voice, you’ll have to wait to hear the voice, but we’ve been working hard at it and I’m really excited to announce that I’m the voice of that video game that I dreamed of playing as a kid.”

For decades, Mario has been voiced in the games by Charles Martinet who is also not Italian but is an theatrically trained and experienced voice actor who specialises in accents and dialects. He will be involved in the new movie in some way, but at this point just as another avenue for Nintendo to troll longtime fans, it seems. Here is Martinet doing various Mario Bros. characters off-the-cuff without breaking a sweat. While it was unlikely for Nintendo to bring Martinet into the fold when it’s got recognisable A-List stars signing up for the movie, many are disappointed all the same.

But why do some people really hate that Pratt is the new Hollywood face of gaming’s number one mascot? Well, it probably has to do with the fact that he’s been accused of attending a church (Zoe Church) associated with anti-LGBTQ bigotry of another church it’s modelled after (Hillsong). Hillsong has been accused of engaging in gay conversion therapy, and its pastor has said the church doesn’t condone a “gay lifestyle.”

“His church is infamously anti lgbtq,” Elliot Page tweeted back in 2019 when Pratt was showing off his spiritual bonafides on late night TV while shilling for The Lego Movie 2. Pratt responded by saying that “nothing could be further from the truth and that his church’s doors were open to “absolutely everyone.”

This has become a common two-step for Pratt, with his wishy-washy remarks on some of the most pressing injustices of our time prompting people to try and get to the bottom of just exactly what his political views are. The Guardians of the Galaxy star’s name started trending on Twitter in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election after he was notably absent from an Avengers cast-led fundraiser for then-Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Was he secretly a Trump supporter? Just another third way “a pox on both your houses” centrist? Some people don’t care about an actor’s political ideology or partisan leanings, but when you’re constantly front-and-centre of every big piece of pop culture and you’re a multi-millionaire movie star who has a knack for subtly jabbing at both sides, people start to wonder if you are really a free thinker or just an arsehole.

Of course, Pratt has plenty of defenders. Most notably other Hollywood stars. When the “Worst Chris” meme war reignited last fall, Marvel colleagues Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., and James Gunn rushed into the breach to tell the internet to stop picking on their very dear friend. So did Pratt’s wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger (yes, he married into both the Schwarzenegger family and, by extension, the Kennedys), as did Guardians co-star Zoe Saldana, who famously quoted Tupac’s “Me Against The World” to rally the Pratt base.

Is there a chance that Nintendo changes its mind here? If anyone can withstand and/or remain oblivious to public outcry, it’s the company that seems to almost get off on negging its fanbase. But who knows. The fates work in mysterious ways, as Pratt himself will tell you, “It just dawned on me right now the quarter I stole from the wishing well to play Super Mario Bros. has come true that I get to be the voice of mario but I clearly stole someone else’s wish so just waiting for that row of Karma dominoes to come crashing down on me.”

Comments

  • Twitter and Resetera are not representative of the internet or people as a whole. Time to get out of that bubble.

    Seems like Ethan has a problem with Chris Pratt as well and is using this as an excuse to stoke the flames.

    Any replacement for Charles Martinet is going to feel less than authentic, the reality is that names sell movies and this is how movies particularly CG animated ones are made. I’m sure Pratt will do a fine job.

    • Crisp Rat is a highly influential Hollywood actor, he doesn’t need randos defending him in the comments of articles. You gain nothing from it.

      Also, oh my god, I was making fun of the “star power” angle last night but I didn’t think anyone would actually make that argument unironically. Bro, it’s fucking Mario, everyone knows what that is. Nobody’s going to say “I don’t know what a “Mario” is but I know Chris Pratt from Jurassic World so I’m going to see this movie.”. Y’know, because hiring MCU actors totally worked for Onward. Remember that one? Of course you don’t.

      Not to mention his likeness doesn’t even appear in the movie anyway, it’s not like he’s a good or recognisable enough actor by his voice alone. I didn’t even know he was in The Lego Movie, and I loved that one. There’s just nothing that stands out about him that makes him memorable even in a lead role.

      He’s just the most manufactured, most painfully corporate actor ever. I guess in that sense he’s perfect for Mario, but I still think he’s the wrong fit for the role.

      • No, he doesn’t need defending. The guy is doing just fine. The reason I brought that up, as mentioned in the original comment was that’s because how these CG animated movies are done. In a perfect world it’d be people like Billy West, John DiMaggio and in this case Charles Martinet doing these roles.

        Yet here we are. The main point I was trying to make was whiny morons on Twitter and Kotaku should quiet down more often. They’re a vocal few and they get paid too much attention.

        Also, “I didn’t know he was in it” isn’t a valid argument, plenty of people did.

      • Wonder if you hold the same thoughts on Elba voicing Knuckles… Or is it just another one way street?

        As for Onward, which is a wonderful movie, (also holds a 88%/95% critic/audience rotten tomatoes if that means anything…) it suffered from a little something called, “the covid pandemic”. 1 week after it was theatrically released in the US was put into lockdown. then it was released digitally on March 20 (paid) on Disney+, then it was released for free on Disney+ On April 3.

        It was released theatrically around the world between April and August of 2020. By that stage, anyone that would have watched it would have seen it for free… at home…. 3 months earlier. And that’s not counting those that would have spent the previous 2 weeks torrenting it to watch it.

        Calm your farm there, love. You could have just said, “I don’t like him”

    • Look at the reply to the comment above for an example.

      It doesn’t matter if Mario isn’t Italian, since Kotaku has featured an article multiple times where the creator of Mario has stated that he’s actually Japanese.

  • “he’s not Italian. This shouldn’t matter, especially not when it comes to voice acting”

    Wait.. So why was there such a huge amount of actors being forced (through social pressure) out of voice acting characters that did not meet their ethnicity, that was being championed by lefties and the like as a “change for the better”? I remember reading articles of actors “regretting” taking on voice acting roles of characters that did not meet the same ethnic background.. hmmm so confusing

    • So because ONE person has an opinion on something, in an opinion piece, and because that opinion that is different than what a LOT of other people have across a LOT of others sources, you think the issue is confusing?

      That says more about your need to find outrage than anything.

      PS is it really too hard to understand why the public in general is sick of tales that include multicultural stories, being ‘whiten’? Some of us grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when tv and movies were white, and the other time their was colour it was a stereotype. If that is still what you want, hae fun in the past? Some of us want art to reflect the multiculturalism that is around us.

      • I’m confused because Kotaku, at large has shown a large amount of support for such things, Ethan being one of them… So I’m confused as to why one is ok for him and the other isn’t. Very simple.

        Yeah, I grew up then also.

        “…and the other time their was colour it was a stereotype.”

        You do realise that Mario is a stereotype. Heard his accent before? Highly stereotypical.

        “Some of us want art to reflect the multiculturalism that is around us.”

        Cool, so… then you agree that only an Italian should voice Mario.

        • “You do realise that Mario is a stereotype.” Totally, what better way to challange than using people of the same ethnicity to break the stereotype by broadening the character beyond those shallow confines

          • Previous comment was sarcastic.

            See, confusing… Like… when is it ok for a person of one ethnicity to voice a character of a different??

            I mean, people who have expressed outrage at it happening in one instance, are ok with it in another instance… Confusing

  • The only people who have a problem Chris Pratt being in this film are whingers who don’t have any real problems in their life. I couldn’t make it through half of this article, because what was listed was so inane and idiotic that I can only assume the rest of it is similar content. Until you’re shitting out articles repeatedly about James Gunn’s 40k plus “pedo jokes” and his obsession with pedos being insanely creepy, you’re not in much of a position to be crying over Chris Pratt who done nothing.

  • Bing! Bing! Wahoo!

    This article to a hard right in the middle.

    Pratt’s suitability for the role based on his acting abilities and over exposure….not an issue apparently.

    Pratt’s voting and religious affiliation?…..now you’re playing with cancle culture powah!

  • I think Hollywood executives have missed the point that there will be a cognitive dissidence when people expect to hear the voice of Mario, he is a household name that has sold over 750 million copies… most of them with his “trademark” and “copyrighted” voice…

    The most heard voice in video games… being played by someone who doesn’t sounds ANYTHING LIKE HIM! Bowser is just going to end up sounding like a Fat Panda, those actors don’t have not shown a huge range in voice impersonating experience… everything they have VA in, sounds like them.

    The voices will be the archillies heel, any teaser trailer will be bombed out of existence, so fast before Sonic can say “Meow”

    Not having the original actors is not going to sound pitch perfect for fans, and that will ruin the immersion.
    I think for test audiences of this film, they should present the audience with a dub with original game voice actors and see what is what.

    The annoying thing is most other regions/languages will probably get the original voice actors from the video game to dub.

  • My problem with it, not that I really care, is how bland a choice it is. Yes he is fun in Guardians and that, but he is nothing more than another generic white America actiun dude, in the same vein as Tom Cruise. They make movies to watch, but in terms of vibrancy or uniqueness, they are like unremarkable slices of white bread.

    I would have preferred a riskier casting, preferable Italian but someone with an interesting and engaging voice, by this stage Chris voice has too much character baggage.

  • Ultimately the aim of the movie, any move, is to make money. To do that they need to get as many people as possible to watch it.

    Mario fans will watch it whoever voices the Little Plumber. Star power, which Chris Pratt undoubtably has, is very effective in bringing in viewers from outside the Faithful. Which is why every animated featured is packed with high profile names.

    Not a surprising choice at all.

  • ” Was he secretly a Trump supporter? Just another third way “a pox on both your houses” centrist? Some people don’t care about an actor’s political ideology or partisan leanings, but when you’re constantly front-and-centre of every big piece of pop culture and you’re a multi-millionaire movie star who has a knack for subtly jabbing at both sides, people start to wonder if you are really a free thinker or just an arsehole. ”

    Most normal human beings dont care. Not wanting to make politics your identity doesnt make you an arsehole, wanting to keep your politics private doesnt make you an arsehole either.

  • It’s really no wonder some celebrities straight up peace the fuck out anytime discussions get political, religious, etc.

    The moment they display the ‘wrong’ ideas the mobs, and especially places like ResetEra, who brigade them all to show support in the first place come back to fucking lynch them.

    I can only hope Nintendo has a heavy hand involved here, I assume they would, if only because they don’t ever really give two shits about playing into these moronic political shitshows. And I say that as someone who doesn’t think Pratt is a great choice for the character.

  • The journo is just explaining the zeitgeist which is fair. Do I agree with the sentiment? Kinda. I don’t care about the Mario movie and I don’t care about Pratt, but there’s the notion I do care about, and it’s that Hollywood is so starved for original content that it’s become possible for one guy to basically become the most generic, cookie cutter leading man for franchises that just need a generic hero put front and centre.

    I remember 7 years ago they were talking about Chris Pratt leading the reboot of Indiana Jones. Yeah! That thing that literally nobody asked for. When Hollywood conjures up an unoriginal idea to make cheap cash, Chris Pratt seems to be the first person they think of, and I will admit, it makes me dislike him as an actor.

    But toughen up babies. It’s the freaking Mario movie. Who gives a crap haha

  • What’s with the gaming community always having a massive sook at anything and everything that gets announced or released?

  • Mario, voiced for 30 years, sold 750 million copies, one of the most household and iconic faces in the in the United States, nay the World…

    Hollywood’s attitude is that is Mario himself is not good enough to sell movies…

    If he doesn’t sound like a pitch perfect Mario that fans have heard for 30 years… its going to alienate people. Worse than superman invisible moustache or the rejected Sonic.

    The hilarious thing is this is the English version, all the foreign dubs will most likely get all their original actors… so when it bombs only in Wnglish speaking countries,we will know why?

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