Face of a Franchise: Izzza Mario!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

One of the most celebrated rites of passage in the Nerd Realm is engaging in the Greatest Hero debate. Would Luke Skywalker’s   Jedi powers confound John McClane, or would he manage to best Tattooine’s favorite farmboy even after getting an arm chopped off? How fast can Neo read universal code if Professor X is mind-molesting him? Can Wolverine’s healing factor work quickly enough to thwart off the three-count after Hogan delivers the atomic leg drop?

Fun questions to ask, no doubt. But only in a purely academic sense. Because, if you really think about it, everyone knows who our generation’s greatest hero is.

Super Mario.

I can’t even begin to think of a hero that’s done more than Mario. Every few years he hunts down a dinosaur, beats the shit out of him, and then brings his girlfriend home to bang her out. Oh, and by the way, she’s a princess – so you know she’s packing a high-quality rump-roast. When he’s not out hunting prehistoric menaces, Mario finds enjoyment in high-octane deathraces. He gets his broke-ass brother jobs. Oh, and the muthafuggah’s got a PhD.

With such crazy credentials, it stands to reason that it takes a real boss to portray Mario. Luckily for us, we’ve been graced with performances by two absolute masters. The only problem lies in determining who did the better job.

Ending after a scant single season, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! blessed the sugar-addled minds of 1989’s youths with both animated and live-action images of their favorite Italian plumber. During the live-action segments, Mario was portrayed by pro-wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano. As a manager, Albano dropped promos so aggrandizing that even the greatest talent in the music business sought his savvy. Without the friendly face of Captain Lou Albano, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! would’ve been doomed to a fate of pop-culture obscurity.

As Lou Albano’s duties were relegated to the small screen, Bob Hoskins was up to the task for 1993’s full-length Super Mario Bros. The film is truly a work of art, repurposing a video game franchise as a poignant commentary about socio-economic evolution and the plight of the working class. Hoskins depicts Mario as a run-down Brooklyn plumber struggling to make ends meet when he’s transported to an alternate dimension. In this dystopia, mammals have gone the way of the dinosaur and all evolutionary ascendants are reptilian. There’s some other bullshit, too – Dennis Hopper’s King Koopa is a greedy dictator, Mario shoots a flamethrower, and a de-evolution ray is used. It’s awesome – and we can thank Bob Hoskins.

So who’s the better Super Mario? Captain Lou Albano or Bob Hoskins?