The first reveal of footage from the Super Mario Bros. movie was met with an odd mix of excitement and confusion at New York Comic Con on Thursday—but the star power of co-star Jack Black saved the event, and probably portends good things for the movie.
Crowds in the ballroom at New York City’s Javits Center watched a live simulcast of the same Nintendo Direct that Mario fans worldwide were turned into, though the shared experience gave some perspective about how the film may be received when it hits theaters: with an odd mix of enthusiasm and skepticism. Initial shots from the teaser drew gasps and cheers; production studio Illumination has done a great job making the animation look and feel like the world we know from Nintendo’s games. But then the big moment occurred: The trailer’s reveal of Chris Pratt’s voice as Mario.
“It just sounds like Chris Pratt,” the fan sitting next to me wailed. “He’s not doing a voice?”
After the trailer finished and the Nintendo Direct concluded, there were more murmurs and quiet discussions than excited cheers in the crowd. But the surprise appearance on-stage of Black—who arrived in a fire-red and yellow outfit with his beard dyed orange to celebrate his role as Bowser—kicked the crowd into overdrive. Black’s performance in the film is a cheeky growl that seems well suited to the Koopa King, and doesn’t just sound like the familiar star phoning it in.
In a short Q&A conducted onstage, Black described his approach to voicing the iconic villain. “He’s got a sensitive side and he’s got a little vulnerability, a little insecurity, and that’s part of why he’s so furious with rage,” he said. “I did dip into my heavy metal roots, because in a way, Bowser is kind of like a heavy metal rockstar. A big strong scary rock star.”
Black also teased that fans might be surprised to discover that Bowser has a “musical side”—perhaps a hint that the Koopa King might have a song in the film. “I’m thinking after the movie comes out I might take it to Broadway,” Black joked.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie debuts in theaters in the U.S. on April 7, 2023.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.