The Super Mario Bros. Movie makes a small but necessary update to the larger Super Mario lore, showing Mario and Luigi’s immediate and extended family for the first time. We’ve seen unofficial glimpses of the bros’ dad before, but Nintendo and Illumination expanded the Mario family tree in a big way for the new Mario movie.
That was all done with Nintendo’s approval, of course. The game maker even provided the look of Mario’s dad, who is played by a well-known voice actor in the movie, and who was based on previously unused character designs from Nintendo.
Super Mario Bros. Movie directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic told Polygon that a dinner scene starring the extended Mario family was vital to the film’s storytelling.
“It goes back to […] grounding the characters,” Horvath said. “We wanted to have them at a lively family dinner scene. So it’s like, Well, we need a bunch of people — who would be there? Mario’s mom and dad. He was going to have a couple of uncles who were like, you know, breaking his balls. Those are his dad’s brothers, [Uncle Arthur, played by John DiMaggio, and Uncle Tony, played by Rino Romano], and his aunt Marie.”
Mario and Luigi’s niece and their grandfather are also there, ribbing the plumbers about their new (and already nearly failed) business venture and the costumes that they wear.
“Nintendo were completely open to it — they were fully on board with this cinematic representation of Mario and knowing that he’s not just going to be a guy who appears from a pipe and says ‘Wahoo!’ and then he’s off on his adventure,” Horvath said. “We needed to do a little more work to believe that he’s a real guy with a real life and real problems. So they were totally on board with creating this family for Mario.
“They did send us character sketches that that they had done years ago that they had never used; Mario’s dad is almost like a one-to-one design adaptation of [Nintendo’s] original Mario’s dad design that they provided us. That was really great to be able to get that in the movie.”
Horvath says that the film’s character designers did tweak the design of Mario’s mom, voiced by Jessica DiCicco: “We made a few more changes on her, but she’s very close to their original design. And Mario’s grandpa in our movie looks a little more like Mario, but like he used to be a boxer or something. We strayed a little bit from their designs in some of the other family members, but Mom and Dad were very close. Very close.”
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now playing in theaters.