The Super Mario Bros. Movie may not have been a hit with critics, many of which dinged it for its unrelentingly fast pace and dramatically unengaging plot, but it was met with rave reviews from fans and has been a certified blockbuster hit. After just 10 days, the animated adventure has earned more than $500 million internationally, making it the highest-grossing film of 2023 so far and the highest-grossing video game adaptation in history.
The nostalgic romp through the Mushroom Kingdom features Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and other favorite Mario characters, but not everyone made it into the film — namely Wario, Mario’s longtime archrival. Wario has made cameos in most multiplayer Mario games and has even starred in his own games here and there. Bouncing back-and-forth between being a foolhardy antagonist to Mario and a powerful hero in his own stories, Wario is an oddball character and favorite among longtime fans of the series.
There isn’t any official word of a sequel to The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but the movie’s ending definitely leaves room for a follow-up, and the box-office figures surely point toward more Mushroom Kingdom adventures. If a sequel is in the works, it definitely needs to include Wario … but who has the history to join the series’ star-studded cast and the right energy to portray the mustachioed freak? It’s a tough call, but here are our favorite picks to don the purple suspenders and give their best “Waaaah!” in the next Mario movie.
Danny Devito is easily one of our top picks to take on the role of Wario. The beloved actor brought life to several iconic fringe characters over the course of his career and has jumped in and out of voice acting for decades. He perfectly toes that line between villain and loveable sidekick that has Wario’s name written all over it. He voiced the evil alien and amusement park owner Swackhammer in Space Jam, then turned around and portrayed the loveable hero-training satyr Phil in Hercules. Though his best audition for Wario comes from his role as Frank Reynolds in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a perfect example of Devito nailing a morally gray — but fun — archetype.
This option seems especially realistic. When asked which of his It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia castmates he’d want to jump into the Mushroom Kingdom, Charlie Day (who voices Luigi) quickly answered that Devito would make a great Wario. We’re going to trust Luigi here. Chris Pratt’s recommendation of Nick Offerman for Waluigi? Not so much.
In terms of other cast recommendations, Jack Black has publicly pitched Pedro Pascal as a Wario front-runner, but we’re not seeing it. Pascal has been too busy saving children in The Mandalorian and the Last Of Us to manage a cartoonish villain right now.
Nick Kroll is another master of playing dubious characters, and he’s got the voice-acting background to take on a role like Wario. Kroll voices several distinct characters on his hit Netflix series Big Mouth, and has played fun antagonists in Parks and Recreation, Sausage Party, and What We Do in the Shadows. Just imagine Wario being introduced with a bang, like Kroll’s version of Uncle Fester in The Addams Family animated TV show.
Another Addams Family adaptation veteran thanks to his recent portrayal of Gomez Addams in Wednesday, Luis Guzmán brings a special kind of energy to every role that’s just unmatched. While his more serious roles in works like Narcos, Oz, or Shameless might not scream Mario rival, look instead to his lighter roles, including an angry chef in Waiting…, drug lord Ricardo Díaz in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and a Great Dane in (we’re sorry) Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Just pretend this scene from Anger Management is Wario talking about a confrontation with Yoshi. Guzmán is able to take any role at all and really maximize it with his performance. Even his short stint playing himself in Community is a masterpiece.
Without any sort of testing, we think Guzmán might be able to deliver the best classic Wario “Wah!” out of anyone on this list — except for maybe our next pick.
Charles Martinet is the iconic voice actor behind Mario. It’s the voice that we all know and love. While we would have loved to see Mario voiced by Martinet instead of Pratt, we’d settle for Wario, who he has also voiced since 1996 with the release of Mario Kart 64. We understand the allure of Hollywood star power in a blockbuster like this, but it’s a shame that Martinet’s decades of work in the Mario franchise was reduced to a quick, kind of demeaning cameo in the film. Without Martinet, it really doesn’t feel like the spirit of the series came through in the movie.
Here’s a compilation of Martinet as Wario if you need convincing.
Of course, it’s far more likely that Universal will just double down and have Pratt voice Mario and his arc-rival Wario. Say hello to Phris Cratt, everyone.
Fun fact: Nintendo originally considered making Wario a German character before he developed into an Italian like Mario. In games like Mario Party 2, Wario even had a line in German when played by a different voice actor, but Nintendo ultimately decided to stick with Martinet and keep the Italian roots going strong.
If the next Super Mario Bros. film wants to get a little weird with it, Illumination could take a turn and portray a more German version of Mario. And who plays a German villain better than Christoph Waltz? He’s played the terrifying Nazi Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, James Bond’s rival in Spectre and No Time to Die, and voiced the evil Count Volpe in Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
A stretch? Maybe. Would it be fantastic? Undoubtedly.
John DiMaggio has a long, long list of stellar voice-acting roles but he’s here because of the best one: Bender the manbot from Futurama. The Super Mario Bros. Movie really leaned into Mario and Luigi being from Brooklyn, and Bender, while manufactured in Tijuana, Mexico, is a true New Yorker. Bender was always jumping back-and-forth between career criminal and emotionally complex best friend while being loud-mouthed and raunchy. If DiMaggio brought half of the energy he delivered playing Bender, his Wario performance would surely be award-worthy.
DiMaggio already played a minor role as Uncle Arthur in the first movie, so it’s not entirely out of the question that he’d be tapped for more work in future installments.
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