“On all these adventures, it's not about the stars you collect, the trophies you win, the amount of mushrooms you consume, or even the Yoshis you ride; it really, at the end of the day, is all about the friends you make, the lives you touch...”
― Mario • Promotional Mario Sports Mix interview
“Thank you very much for to playing my games-es!”
― Mario • Mario vs. Donkey Kong
― Mario's signature catchphrase
Mario (Japanese: マリオ), full name Mario Mario, also known as Jumpman in the 1981 arcade game, Donkey Kong, is the titular main protagonist of the longest-running video games series with the same name, and the mascot for Nintendo.
He's the main hero of the Mushroom Kingdom, who is always bright and cheerful and instantly recognizable with his blue overalls, red cap, and trademark moustache. He's a trusted friend of Princess Peach, and he and his brother Luigi are known across the land for their acts of bravery.
Mario excels at sports including tennis, golf, baseball, soccer, and even kart racing. He's good at all of them for most. He's a plumber by profession but is really a jack of all trades. He uses his masterful jumping ability and a variety of power-ups to take on his archrival, Bowser.
Why He's a Superstar
“I don't want Mario to be a superhero that is always on a pedestal. I want him to be a normal guy that doesn't seek attention too much.”Mario stands out amongst most other mascot characters because he's not a cute or cool animal, he's a blue collar, mustachioed, Italian-American man somewhere in his 20s who comes from Brooklyn and works as a plumber, but despite that description sounding mundane, he's not exactly an everyman either, because carries a sense of cheery childlike whimsicality and faces every challenge with a "wahoo!" and "yippee!". He's just this goofy silly little guy, who still manages to save the day, which is a neat subversion of the prince charming or knight in shining armor you'd normally expect to be tasked with saving a princess held in a castle from a fire-breathing monster.
― Shigeru Miyamoto • Variety
- The concept of Mario (and his entire series) is very unique and something that can never truly be replicated, as he and his series were shaped through the limitations of the time. Mario was created as a character because they couldn't get the rights to Popeye, and his design can be attributed to the limitations of the hardware of the time. He was given overalls to distinguish his arms the rest of his body with the limited color pallet, and sports a cap and moustache to avoid drawing hair and facial expressions. From his outfit, he became a plumber, and from his moustache, he became Italian. Mario's origins truly are fascinating because unlike almost every other popular character, he wasn't planned at all, and they made him up as they go, with his design coming first, and they still managed to make him work. Since now the limitations of that era are long gone, it's impossible to truly replicate a character like Mario.
- Other notable attributes of Mario's character, such as his name and voice, also have their own origin stories. Mario is named after the late, Seattle-based Italian American landlord Mario Segale, and the idea to name Mario after Segale only struck after a heated argument Nintendo of America had with him concerning rent. The voice actor responsible for main and most recognizable voice, Charles Martinet, crashed the audition and arrived JUST as the directors were packing up, and the rest is history.
MarioIt is a popular opinion that Mario is a bland character lacking in personality, and while it's okay for people to not like him, that isn't a very good justification for it, because Mario DOES have a personality. He's extremely cheery and optimistic, and finds fun in his adventures, while still being able to take things seriously when appropriate. He can be described as a scrappy and plucky underdog, whose courage and stubbornness makes him unafraid to stand up to those who are larger and stronger than he is, but also can be a bit impulsive. He's a bit of a glutton and a slob, contrasting Luigi being a clean bean. And last but not least, he is extremely loyal to his friends and family, and treasures them more than anything. His personality makes him a great role model for children and even some adults. His jovial attitude and ability to get back up no matter what is something that many people should aspire to have for themselves.
Born in Brooklyn, Mario grew up with a love of fixing things. He was destined to become a plumber and hero from the day he fixed a friend's broken squirt gun. Mario is good natured but unflagging in his crusade for justice and clean bathroom fixtures.
Mario the Man
At first glance, the man we have come to know as "Mario" might appear to be a fairly easily defined character. Call him a madcap plumber who was born and raised in Brooklyn and seems to be forever in search of the oft-kidnapped Princess and you'd be right. But you would also be leaving out a whole lot of the story. Let's take a closer look at Mario.
Mario is Adventurous
He's already launched himself on a handful of harrowing adventures over the last few years. He's always ready to pack up his bag of tools and head off into unknown worlds inhabited by unrecognizable denizens.
Mario is Brave
It must surely take great bravery and courage to fight, usually with bare hands, all of the various and sundry enemies, monsters, creatures and fiends that Mario has encountered over the course of his life. A stout-hearted fellow, to say the least.
Mario is Curious
He has always managed to retain a child's wide-eyed curiosity and inquisitiveness. Nothing goes unexplored. It's his incredible curiosity that leads him to hurtling down pipes to who-knows-where; to unearth hidden mushrooms and fire flowers; to bash his head into thousands of blocks in search of hidden secrets and treasures.
Mario is Resourceful
His inventive mind can puzzle its way out of any jam. He can figure out how to ride a giant egg to safety; how to turn a harmless looking turtle shell into a lethal weapon; how to disguise himself as a raccoon or a frog; how to turn a floating feather into a flying cape able to ride the Thermals over foreboding landscapes. What a mind!
Mario is Tolerant
He'll accept anyone or anything at face value. He treats anyone and anything with dignity and respect. He has seen too many things in his travels to be narrow-minded.
― Description of Mario • Nintendo Character Manual (1993)
- Mario might be a righteous hero, but that doesn't mean he doesn't get to be a little competitive and cheeky every once in a while. Such as in the Nintendo Power comic, Mario vs. Wario: The Birthday Bash, where he pulls the same trick as Wario, and in various commercials promoting Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, where he and Sonic are constantly pulling pranks on each other, and most infamously, in Mario Power Tennis, where, when Luigi wins a tournament in Singles mode, Mario is jealous towards Luigi and expresses that by intentionally stepping on his foot while acting congratulatory (to be fair, those with sibling rivalries can totally relate, and something as small and petty as stepping on his foot doesn't justify calling him a psychopath). It's nice that Mario isn't always treated as this perfect always happy poster boy, and can have his own flaws, like any other human being.
- As he is usually a silent protagonist in his games, his personality is shown through his mannerisms, animations, and little details. For example, in Luigi's Mansion 3, the first thing that Mario does when he arrives at the Last Resort, is head for the food table, and when you get to explore his room, several pizza boxes can be seen lying on the ground. In the special Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. for his 35th anniversary, there is artwork of him and Luigi having a lunch break that can be seen before the system enters sleep mode. In the artwork, Mario's eating is noticeably messier than Luigi's, and his choice of food (pizza and a soda, likely ordered) contrasts Luigi's (a simple sandwich and a cup of tea from a basket, likely prepared at home) as well.
- His inseparable brotherly bond with Luigi is very wholesome, especially in the Luigi's Mansion and Mario & Luigi series and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. They have such a great dynamic together, and you can truly see how much they care for each other even when they're apart.
“I think it all came out of the spirit of love, and caring, and tenderness, and loyalty, and faithfulness, and trustworthiness, and adventure, positive attitude, all the things that I think I try to aspire for myself personally in life. To face adversity with a 'let's-a go!' instead of a 'oh no!' Inspirational in that way. He's the man I would like to be.”
― Charles Martinet • Sacramento Special Report
“When I got the script and I’m in the studio, I’m reading the script, you know, for the first time, there were things like ‘You failed,’ ‘That wasn’t very good,’ ‘That was much worse’ ‘That was bad.’ And I was reading that and I said ‘Can I…do you mind if I just like, play with these words a little bit and just change them around? Because you know…I never say ‘no’ and I never say anything negative as Mario. And the producer graciously said, ‘Sure! Go for it!’ And so, it became ‘Oh! That was good, but I know you can do even better!’ ‘Ooh, nice one but let’s try again!’ So it was always uplifting and always trying to be positive. And I think…that is the essence of the character to me. It’s that love and that joy…and you know, I think that in our world we should all be loving and joyful to each other.”
― Charles Martinet • TooManyGames
“I want to voice Mario until I drop dead.”Charles Martinet's portrayal of him is iconic and beloved for good reason. He is undeniably a played a huge part in developing Mario as a character, as he basically built his personality as we know today from the ground up. When he was first auditioning for the role, he imagined a typical gruff Brooklyn accent when told that Mario was an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, but then he thought about how this was going to be for a game aimed at children, so he tried a more childlike and whimsical voice, and that's how Mario got his iconic voice. On top of that, Martinet is just a really great guy! When listening/reading interviews with him, you can really tell just how much heart and passion he puts into the role as Mario, and he's said many times that what he wants for Mario is to be this inspirational figure that can lift up others with his positivity, and with the longevity of his career and how Mario is still widely beloved today, largely in part of his voice, it's safe to say that he's been widely successful. There are also many examples of Charles Martinet speaking in full sentences as Mario, such as in-character interviews, and cute Instagram skits. Almost all of his other actors do a great job voicing him.
― Charles Martinet • Eurogamer
- Mario has had other actors besides Charles Martinet, such as Lou Albano (who is an Italian-American himself), voiced and portrayed him in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!'s animated and live action segments. While undeniably cheesy, his voice for Mario has it's own charm, and really sells him as this plumber from Brooklyn. Like Martinet, Lou was very into the role, and according to the show's producer John Grusd, Lou had even offered to legally change his name to "Mario" during the show's production (source). He would be replaced by Walker Boone for the other DiC Mario shows, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Super Mario World television series, who, while noticeably different, was still a good substitute for Mario's voice, and graced the world with his laugh in "Mama Luigi".
- In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Mario is played by Chris Pratt. He's so cool! His voice for Mario is more of an in-between of Charles' Italian accent and a Brooklyn accent, having a Brooklyn accent for most of the film, but his voice is not gruff enough so when it jumps into an impression of Charles' "wahoo!"s, it isn't jarring. Like Mario's other actors, he gives his version of Mario a ton of charm and is surprisingly great, but unlike Mario's other actors, he also gets to have moments where Mario isn't always fully confident in himself and has his own insecurities. When the casting for the movie was first announced, there was a ton of backlash to Chris Pratt having the role as Mario, but he still handled it like a champ, and told people to watch the movie for themselves before making harsh judgements (source).
“If you're familiar with things like Popeye and some of the old comic characters, you would oftentimes see this cast of characters that takes on different roles depending on the comic or cartoon. They might be businessman in one [cartoon] or a pirate in another. Depending on the story that was being told, they would change roles. So, to a certain degree, I look at our characters in a similar way and feel that they can take on different roles in different games.”The charming simplicity of Mario makes him an easy character for children to like, and also allows him to take on different roles in different games, much like the old cartoon characters he was originally derived from. Mario's pretty much done it all, from kart racers, party games, RPGs, to almost every sport you can think of. It's part of why Mario is such an iconic household name. Game series like Mario Kart and Mario Party are always talked about like it's a universal experience. Almost everyone in the entire world has at least played one Mario game in their life. Mario is for everyone.
― Shigeru Miyamoto • Polygon
“Here's the bottom line: He's Italian, he's really sexy, and he can get more women than Sonic.”
― Perrin Kaplan of Nintendo • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games interview
Bowser: “Do princesses find him attractive?!”Super Mario, one of the greatest and most attractive characters ever thought up. He can throw his hat, jump over large obstacles in a flash, and best of all, he's red colored and knows how to handle the females. No joke, in-universe Mario is considered extremely sexually attractive, especially in the Paper Mario series, where almost every female partner, npc, and even enemy find themselves attracted to Mario in some way. That's pretty funny.
Luigi: “THEY DO IF THEY HAVE GOOD TASTE!!”
― Bowser and Luigi • The Super Mario Bros. Movie
"Mama Mia" Qualities
- While this aspect is short-lived, Mario lacked some clarity in his personality, giving rise to some inconsistent portrayals in many other pieces of media since there wasn't a lot to adapt from the games at the time:
- In the DIC Entertainment cartoon trilogy, he can be too cheesy sometimes in the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, as he and Luigi act too much like Italian stereotypes often, especially with all the Italian food puns.
- His portrayal in the 1993 film was very bad, as he ultimately looks nothing (except near the end) like his original self in that one and he seems to be more of a parody of his original counterpart rather than an adaption of his character. Thankfully though, this version of him remains largely forgotten.
- Although Mario DOES have a personality, it's hard to blame people for not noticing and seeing him as bland, since it's not always conveyed enough in his games, compared to characters like Luigi and Wario.
- He has made numerous cameos in several other games, such as in The Legend of Zelda series, Kirby series, Animal Crossing series, and more.
- According to an entry of the second issue of Nintendo Power (1988), Mario's birthday is October 11.
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