When "Donkey Kong" hit arcades in 1981, the main objective was pretty clear. Players had to control the little guy at the bottom of the screen through a series of ladders and dropped barrels in an effort to save the helpless damsel in the clutches of the titular ape. When Mario became a video game mascot of his own, he once again had to save a woman, this time named Princess Toadstool (later Peach), from the nefarious clutches of King Koopa (later, Bowser). For most "Mario" games moving forward, this premise was repeated — Peach gets captured and taken hostage for one reason or another, and it's up to a plumber named Mario to save her.
However, don't expect that to be the case in the upcoming "Super Mario Bros. Movie," Illumination's animated take on the illustrious franchise. In a new interview with Total Film Magazine, co-director Aaron Horvath revealed Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) will be depicted in the film as more than capable of defending both herself and the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. So, who will Mario (Chris Pratt) have to save from Bowser (Jack Black)? Just take a look at the film's name.
"[Luigi] takes the Princess Peach role in our story," Horvath said. "It's Mario's goal to save his brother from Bowser's clutches. He has to go on this epic adventure to do that."
A Nice Subversion Of Expectations
Before you start angrily quote-retweeting this article complaining about how "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" has gone "woke," let's hold our horses. Making Peach an aide to Mario and Luigi (Charlie Day) the sort-of damsel in distress actually fits in very well with the sacred "Mario" lore. No offense to him, but Luigi is a bit of a nervous coward — they've made several video games based on this fact! According to Horvath, this is exactly why he was a more interesting character for their film's Mario to dedicate this grand journey to.
"Luigi, who's a famously nervous, anxious character, finds himself in the worst possible predicament: having to survive interrogations with Bowser, and make it through that gauntlet," the co-director said.
This reasoning also fits in well with the decision to make Peach a more proactive character in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." While it is true that most of the franchise has her in the backseat, it's not like this will be the first time she's had a hand in the overarching action. She's a playable character in several Nintendo games — Horvath cites 2013's "Super Mario 3D World" as his favorite in the franchise. In addition to that, what sense does it make for a ruler capable of training an army to act as the helpless damsel?
"She's the monarch who leads this kingdom of hapless, adorable Toads," explained Horvath. "We were thinking how strong that person would need to be to protect those people."
Well, Toads are technically mushrooms, not people, but we get what he means. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" launches into theaters on April 5, 2023.
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