Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for The Super Mario Bros. Movie.The Super Mario Bros. franchise has always been home to a cavalcade of powerful characters ever since its first games. From power-up-wielding heroes to formidable villains, the series has had a multitude of mighty characters that fans have grown to love and appreciate.
With The Super Mario Bros. Movie hitting the big screen and delivering big time with audiences, it comes into question exactly how the film was able to adapt this powerful catalog of characters. While not every iconic character has made their way into the film, the characters that made the cut have made sure to display the power of the Mario universe.
10 Penguin King
Voiced by Khary Payton, the Penguin King is the leader of the penguin army in the icy kingdom that Bowser and his army invades at the beginning of the film. His kingdom is in possession of the start power up, and his army is headstrong in defending it before being defeated by Bowser.
While it’s impressive that the Penguin King and his kingdom were in possession of the powerful star in the first place, his army’s quick defeat and humiliation show his army’s lack of true strength. Penguin King and his army spend the majority of the film trapped in Bowser’s dungeon, ruminating on their defeat and filled with sorrow.
9 Cranky Kong
Voiced by Saturday Night Live‘s Fred Armisen, Cranky Kong is the leader and general of the Kong Kingdom, commanding a powerful army of primates at his disposal. He is also the father of Donkey Kong, the most notable and powerful member of the entire Kong army.
Even despite the powerful army at his disposal, the fragility of his old age makes it difficult for Cranky Kong to hold his own in a fight himself. While he does show tactical prowess and knowledge in the film, such as during the kart racing segment, he also ends up getting captured and imprisoned by Bowser’s army before the climax of the film.
Voiced by Keegan Michael Key, Toad is one of the most courageous and adventurous citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. Unlike any of the other toads in the kingdom, this specific Toad immediately jumps at the opportunity to join the fray and accompany Princess Peach and Mario on their journey. He devotes and dedicates his life to the princess and assures her that no harm will come her way while she is around.
While definitely the most powerful of all the other toads, Toad doesn’t particularly bring a great deal to a battle outside his outstanding confidence and headstrong nature. He does get to ride a large monster truck and holds his own against Bowser’s army during the rainbow road sequence during the film, and his knowledge of the Mushroom Kingdom gives him a leg up in particular moments.
Voiced by Charlie Day, Luigi is the iconic reclusive younger brother to Mario, always in the shadow of his older brother, yet always appreciative and looking up to him as well. Luigi spends the latter portion of the film separated from Mario, and it’s his support and hope for his brother that help motivate him during the darkest times.
While we do get to see Luigi outsmart a squad of Dry Bones early in the film, he is quickly captured and imprisoned by Bowser’s army. Unlike many of the other characters that are imprisoned, however, Luigi gets his chance of redemption in the spotlight at the end of the film, when he joins Mario in using the star. Luigi’s bravery and strength both before and after using the star power-up are a great sign of growth for his character during the film, evolving from a reclusive fearful character into one with considerable strength and heart.
6 Koopa General
Voiced by Scott Menville, the Koopa General is one of the leading koopa troopa soldiers in Bowser’s formidable army. He is one of the leading forces during Bowser’s Army’s ambush attack on Mario and the Kong Army during their traversal across the rainbow road. Despite an original character created for this film, his distinct spiky blue shell is enough to prove his strength and prowess to long-time Super Mario fans.
The kart that the General rides across the rainbow road is shown to be one of the most powerful karts on the track, destroying many karts and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Even after his kart is destroyed, the General is able to use the last trick up his sleeve and make use of his powerful unavoidable blue shell attack, directly inspired by the infamous Mario Kart item.
Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, Kamek is the powerful second in command and right-hand man to the iconic Bowser and his army. He makes use of powerful magic and its limitless possibilities in order to lay waste to his foes.
Kamek is seen using his magic for a variety of powerful utilities throughout the film, most notably at the beginning when he is able to single-handedly take down the entire penguin army. Kamek also is shown to be able to teleport using his magic throughout the film, using it to traverse long distances and fly with his trusty broomstick. Kamek’s powerful magic makes for one of the most threatening tools in Bowser’s army, using it to force his enemies to submit to his demands, as is the case with Peach and Toad before the climax of the film.
4 Princess Peach
Voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, Princess Peach is the leader of the Mushroom Kingdom, the land where she has grown up and lived her entire life inside. Her extensive knowledge and understanding of the various Kingdoms and their functions help Princess Peach not only as a respected leader, but a powerful combatant and intelligent tactician.
Peach’s usage of the various power-ups of the world, including the fire and ice flowers, helps skyrocket her as one of the most powerful individual characters in the film. This in combination with her expert usage of surprise tactics and strategies has allowed her to hold her own numerous times against insurmountable odds. This is most effectively shown in the climax of the film, where her smart thinking and strategy allow her to hold her own against Bowser and his entire army by herself long enough for help to arrive.
3 Donkey Kong
Voiced by Seth Rogen, Donkey Kong is the primary fighter in the powerful Kong Army and acts as a powerful warrior whose name and reputation leave massive impacts across the lands. His core agility and strength are unparalleled among the rest of the cast, resulting in him and the rest of the army being Princess Peach’s primary plan to combat Bowser’s army.
Even with his already powerful physical strength and primate agility, Donkey Kong is still able to make use of power-ups to even further improve his fighting abilities. We see him make use of the fire flower specifically in the final fight against Bowser’s army. The only thing that gets in the way of Donkey Kong’s incredible fighting ability is his own hubris and confidence getting in the way, allowing him to both severely underestimate his opponents and overestimate his own abilities.
Voiced by Jack Black, Bowser is the king of the powerful and dreadful Koopa Army, and is on a quest filled with destruction in order to win the heart of his love, Princess Peach. Bowser lays wake to a number of people on his way to capture the princess’s heart, capturing multiple armies with plans to publicly execute them during his wedding. Bowser’s love for the princess is only outmatched by his power and capability to destroy all that stands in his way.
Using both his incredible physical strength and his deadly fire breath, there are very few that are even willing to take the fight to Bowser, let alone stand a chance against him and his army. Even when he loses the upper hand in a battle, he is able to use his vast and expansive army to get the upper hand just as quickly, as seen with both the rainbow road ambush and the bullet bill. Bowser also is quite resilient, being able to take as many powerful hits as he is able to dish out, with the only thing truly being able to stop him being the illustrious star power-up.
Voiced by Chris Pratt, Mario is the go-lucky plumber from Brooklyn who finds his way into the magical world of the Mushroom Kingdom along with his brother Luigi. Even despite his initial confusion at the magical world, Mario soon finds himself dedicated to saving not only his brother Luigi, but the entire Mushroom Kingdom from Bowser’s reign and tyranny.
More than any other character in the film, Mario is constantly seen to be highly adaptable and capable to turn around a battle to suit his favor, adapting on the fly to defeat any opponent. His excellent use of various power-ups, from the Super Mushroom and Cat Suit to the Tanooki Suit and Star all help him accomplish great things and defeat formidable foes. Mario shows that with the right mindset and attitude, even just your normal everyday plumber can become all-powerful and defeat all villains that stand in his way.
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