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Frequently Asked Questions About Super Mario Bros. That Keep Us Up at Night
How old is Mario? You're not gonna like the answer.
The Super Mario games are pretty intuitive by design. You don’t need to spend too much time questioning what you’re supposed to do. For the most part, you run to the right and jump on the bad guys. But, if you really start to question how the Mushroom Kingdom works, you’ll find yourself pondering things that were not meant to be pondered.
Part of this is because the Mario games don’t really have a lot of “plot” and they certainly don’t have “canon.” In one game, Mario and Bowser are mortal enemies, in many others, they play golf and tennis together. Sometimes Mario is an Italian-American plumber from Brooklyn, other times he’s apparently a Mushroom Kingdom native, having spent part of his infancy on Yoshi’s Island. These games — even the comparatively more narratively complex spin-offs like the Paper Mario series — are much more concerned with being fun than they are with coherent lore.
That’s probably for the best, but we can’t help but have some good-natured (if ultimately futile) questions about Super Mario. Some of these questions are “answered” in Universal and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but the film is just one of many possible versions of what the Mario franchise is. (There will also be mild spoilers for the movie in this post.)
And, without further ado, let’s go down the rabbit hole — err, make that “down the green pipe.”
Where Is Mario From?
We covered this in the introduction, but for real where is Mario from? He’s an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, supposedly. That’s the case in the live-action movie from the ‘90s and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. In the new film, he travels to the Mushroom Kingdom via pipe. But, in the Yoshi’s Island games, Mario’s already in Mushroom Kingdom when he’s only a baby. Does Brooklyn exist in the world of the Mario games? The latest Mario Kart has Mario and Co. racing through the streets of New York, Tokyo, Paris, and more real-life cities. Where does the Mushroom end and the real world begin?
How Old Is Mario?
OK, this one actually has an answer, but you’re probably not going to like it. According to Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario is only 24 years old. He’s a portly plumber with a massive mustache! When Bob Hoskins played him in the live-action movie he was 50 years old. You expect me to believe that Mario is in his mid-twenties? That my guy isn’t old enough to legally rent a car? Sorry, calling “death of the author” on this one and choosing to believe that what Miyamoto says is simply Not True.
What Is Mario and Luigi’s Last Name?
If Mario and Luigi are “the Mario Bros.” then does that mean that their last name is “Mario?” If so, that would make their full names Mario Mario and Luigi Mario. Though former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata and Miyamoto both at one point claimed that this wasn’t true, and that Mario simply had no last name, since 2015 it’s been the official stance that his name is indeed Mario Mario. In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, “the Mario Bros.” is merely the name that Mario and Luigi give to their plumbing company, so it’s possible that he doesn’t have a repetitive name in the film universe.
Why Is Princess Peach the Reigning Monarch Over a Bunch of Toads?
Princess Peach is a human. (I guess?) Why is she ruling over a nation of Toads? How did she become the princess? And, also, why is she a princess instead of a queen? The Super Mario Bros. Movie offers an explanation for the first question — she, like Mario, came through the pipes from somewhere else, but she was a small child at the time. The Toads took her in and eventually elevated her to a leadership role. Still, it’s unclear why she wouldn’t be Queen Peach. The titles of the Mushroom Kingdom’s monarchy must be more complex than those of the British Royals.
Is That Toad’s Hat or Part of His Head?
This is another question that has an answer. The mushroom cap on every Toad’s head is not actually a cap. It’s part of their heads, as Super Mario Odyssey producer Yoshiaki Koizumi confirmed. (An infamous sequence in the old cartoon where Toad takes his “hat” off is seemingly not canon in addition to being disturbing.) Really, though, it only makes sense for it to be part of their heads. Otherwise, why would Captain Toad wear a helmet on top of his head? And, what of Toadette’s mushroomy pigtails?
What’s Yoshi’s Whole Deal?
Typically, the green Yoshi most associated with Mario is coded as a boy. (Not, like, literally coded in the video game sense, but in the “expression of gender norms” sense.) So, how does he lay eggs? This one, perhaps more than any of the unanswerable Mario questions, is worth just ignoring. These aren’t normal eggs, as Yoshi eats things whole and instantly expels them out of his… cloaca (?) encased in an eggshell as big as he is. There is apparently no limit on how often he can do it. That’s just how Yoshis work. Don’t worry about it! Don’t make it weird!
Is Everything… Alive?
So, like… a lot of stuff in Mushroom Kingdom has eyes, including Fire Flowers and the big round hills in the background of levels. Are they… alive? Are they sentient? When Mario eats a Super Mushroom, does it see his mustachioed mouth grow larger as Mario’s white-gloved hand brings the fungus closer and closer to it’s inevitable doom? If they see, do they think? Do they feel pain? We’ll never know — they have no mouths and cannot scream.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is streaming exclusively on Peacock starting Aug. 3.