Mario, in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie, looks at Toad in a mushroom patch.

We’ve Talked About Mario’s New Voice, Now Let’s Talk About His New Look

You know when someone tries to draw a portrait, but their proportions aren't quite right?

Now that the trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out, Chris Pratt’s take on Mario’s voice has received a lot of attention. What hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, though, is Mario’s new look.

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It might seem like there’s not much to talk about. Mario’s character design isn’t a huge departure from the games, and his look has gone through more iterations over the years than most fans can keep track of. However! I can tell you, because I witnessed it myself, that when my kid watched the trailer and Mario’s face was finally revealed, she literally yelped and jumped back from the screen. Then she cried, “What did they do to him!?”

And, I mean, come on. You can see it, right? Mario’s eyes are juuust slightly too small, and not quite blue enough, and they lack that hyper cutesy look that makes you forget that you’re watching a grown man bounce around on giant mushroom caps. He just looks off, and my kid’s reaction proved to me that I wasn’t imagining it. The new Mario looks like when you try to draw a portrait of someone in art class but your proportions aren’t quite right. It might take a minute to put your finger on where exactly you went wrong, but the result is still freakish and upsetting. It’s like when they gave the Smurfs those weirdly realistic irises in the Smurfs movies.

Look, I’m not saying we have an Ugly Sonic situation here. (Although wouldn’t it be funny if we did? I mean, wouldn’t it be really, really funny if, after Sonicgate, Illumination decided to go full throttle into Ugly Mario?) What I’m saying is this: why do filmmakers feel the need to mess with video game character design? Game designers have already put in countless hours of work developing their characters’ looks, so why can’t animators honor those designs?

Maybe my kid and I are just curmudgeons. Maybe we’re just diehard Mario purists who fear change. At the time of this writing, the majority of readers in a poll on Nintendolife say that Mario’s new look “was weird at first, but I quickly came around to it.” That’s encouraging data. My kid and I will probably get used to the new Mario, too. Oh, and for the record, Bowser looks perfect, A+, no notes.

Hey, since we’re on the subject of video game movies, a still from the new Zelda movie just dropped!

An ugly, badly-animated Link from one of the Phillips CD-i console games.

Ha! Made you look. There’s no Zelda movie, this still is actually from a notorious old Phillips CD-i game that Nintendo wasn’t involved with. Sorry to traumatize you, I just couldn’t resist.

(featured image: Nintendo/Illumination)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>