The Super Mario Bros. Movie Fails Peach In A Big Way

The following article contains spoilers for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

The plot of most "Mario" games is pretty much the same. Someone gets kidnapped (usually Princess Peach), and it's up to Mario and his friends to save them. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" largely sticks to this idea, but this time, Luigi is the one held hostage by Bowser, forcing Mario to team up with Peach, Toad, and Donkey Kong to save him and their worlds. 

Even from the trailers, it was abundantly clear the film was going to avoid making Peach a damsel in distress, instead giving her greater agency. Whether the movie actually succeeds in that endeavor is another question entirely. Peach does show off some skills, like completing the obstacle course without breaking a sweat and freezing Bowser initially in the final fight. However, even with these brief "girl boss" moments, Peach still feels like an incomplete character, serving more as a cheerleader to Mario than as royalty with a breadth of skills at her disposal.

Peach has actually saved Mario from time to time in the games, and on multiple occasions, players can assume control of her. She never really gets that sense of agency in the film, as she always feels like a supporting player, cheering Mario on from the sideline and giving him pointers on how to interact with this world. She functions more as a guide character who displays the power of the fire plant initially so that Mario knows how to use it later and walks him through the obstacle course. While it's not a terrible portrayal, it's a missed opportunity to make the character so much more than what people tend to perceive her as.

Peach needed a big hero moment of her own

While plenty of fans were excited at the prospect of "warrior Princess Peach," there were also concerns she'd fall into generic "strong female character" type territory. While she certainly gets a ton to do, the audience doesn't really come ahead in knowing much about her by the end, other than she's pretty good at everything. She's a decent fighter and a solid diplomat, often being the one to do most of the talking when trying to get the Kongs to join the fight or convince Bowser to leave the Toads alone. But by the end, Mario and Luigi feel like they've reconciled with who they are, realizing they can do anything together, whereas Peach feels in the same place, not very much changed from her attitudes at the beginning of the film. 

It also feels as though her characterization isn't going to change that much in the public's eye, seeing how she's still incredibly reliant on Mario. For that to change, Peach needed a much grander moment in the final fight against Bowser. She freezes him temporarily and stops the lowering of his victims into the lava, but after that, Mario and Luigi get the most licks in. This actually wouldn't be against what gamers have seen from her in the games. When she's a playable character, people actually use her against some pretty powerful bosses. It's obviously Mario's movie, so him landing the final blow isn't a shock. But it feels like there's something missing from Peach to make her feel like the only reason she's leading the Toads is because she's taller than everyone else. 

Again, Peach isn't terrible in this movie, but it feels like there was so much more that could've been done with her. Hopefully, with an inevitable "Mario" movie sequel materializes, Peach gets a larger role to play.