Sebastian Maniscalco's casting in Illumination's upcoming Super Mario Bros. animated movie seems to suggest the return of an obscure Nintendo antagonist. For years, an animated Mario movie has been in development, but it wasn't until last year when the project finally started moving forward with Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri co-producing. There haven't been many updates since, but now it appears that the character Foreman Spike will be included.
During a recent episode of the Bertcast podcast, Sebastian Maniscalco said he was planning to record his lines for Foreman Spike in the animated Super Mario Bros. movie later that very day. In the clip, Maniscalco refers to Spike as the "boss" of the Mario Bros., revealing the role he'll play in the story. This is also in line with classic Nintendo canon, as Foreman Spike previously served as a boss for Mario and Luigi in one of the earliest Super Mario video games.
Foreman Spike first appeared in the 1985 title Wrecking Crew. With players controlling Mario and Luigi, the goal is to break down all walls at a demolition site. During the bonus stages, Foreman Spike competes against Mario in collecting coins. Wearing overalls similar to Mario and Luigi but with sunglasses and a beard, the foreman vanished from Nintendo games until his comeback in the Japan-only title Wrecking Crew '98 on Super Famicom, this time working as a builder for King Bowser.
Maniscalco is a comedian and actor who has released five comedy specials between 2009-19. He has also appeared in several movies over the past few years, including Tag, Green Book, and The Irishman, and did voiceover work for The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. The comedian is also currently filming an untitled movie directed by Ray Romano which stars Maniscalco alongside Romano, Laurie Metcalf, and Sadie Stanley.
Perhaps going animated will bring about better results for a theatrical Super Mario Bros. movie. The video game franchise was infamously developed as a universally-panned live-action movie in 1993 starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as reimagined versions of Mario and Luigi. Due in part to its deviations from the source material, the movie was a flop at the box office along with its critical failures, though it has since found a cult following in the years since. An extended cut of the movie was recently released online. Even so, Nintendo is being much more careful it seems.
"Animation, in general, is something that we are looking into, and not just this franchise," Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa previously told Fast Company. "However, Nintendo still intends to be picky about what they're producing. Although the ways we are expanding our IP are increasing, we are very, very careful about where and how our IP is licensed. We are not deploying our characters and worlds merely to increase public exposure."
Producer Chris Meledandri has said that the Super Mario Bros. movie is a "priority" for Illumination and that the project is on track to be released in 2022. As of now, an official release date hasn't been announced. If the movie is a success, Furukawa said there will likely be more animated movie projects based on Nintendo titles, meaning we could finally see that long-awaited adaptation of The Legend of Zelda. This news comes to us from Nintendo Wire.