The Super Mario Bros. Movie delivered different versions of the video game's classic heroes and villains, including Anya Taylor-Joy's Princess Peach.
Illumination delivered a massive hit movie with The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the animated feature climbs its way up the box office charts, largely thanks to its memorable cast of characters and actors.
Outside of the headliners like Chris Pratt's Mario and Jack Black's Bowser, Anya Taylor-Joy also left her imprint on this story as Princess Peach, who's been a part of Mario's story since the beginning.
But this time around, Illumination made it clear that this Peach would be a far different character than any iteration of the Mushroom Kingdom's leader from years past.
A New Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros. Movie
1.) Peach Jumps Into the Action
The "damsel in distress" trope is one that's been used in all forms of media over the decades, and the Super Mario Bros. franchise was no exception. More often than not over the first couple of decades of Peach's existence, her main purpose was to be that damsel, winding up captured by Bowser or some other villain before Mario and/or Luigi blast in to rescue her.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie made it a point to change that status for Peach, with directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic expressing their desire to see a strong leader for the fairly helpless Toads:
"She’s the monarch who leads this kingdom of hapless, adorable Toads. We were thinking how strong that person would need to be to protect those people. All that informed the idea for Peach’s character in our movie."
In the movie, Peach wasn't afraid to take initiative in helping Mario save Luigi, going to the Jungle Kingdom in order to form an alliance with the Kongs. She even goes so far as to drive her own go-kart and land a few blows against Bowser and the Koopas, leaving the "damsel in distress" trope far in the rearview mirror.
2.) Peach Gets Her Own Backstory
While backstories have typically been reserved for titular or leading characters in franchises like Super Mario Bros., this movie made sure that Peach was fleshed out as a heroine in her own right.
As Peach and Mario got to know one another, she revealed that she entered the Mushroom Kingdom as an infant through a previously unseen portal in the same way that Mario did in this movie. From there, the Toads took her in and raised her, with the story using this reasoning for why she was the only human in this land amongst its residents.
Eventually, she was crowned as the Kingdom's princess and leader when she became of age, training to be a capable warrior and serving as a benevolent ruler before the events of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While it only took a short scene to share this information, it was enough to help her evolve from the one-dimensional character that she's been in past games and stories.
3.) Subverting & Misdirecting the Wedding
Late in the plot, Peach winds up in Bowser's clutches as the King of the Koopas looks to make the Mushroom Princess his bride with a huge and extravagant wedding, all after Jack Black's charting hit single appropriately entitled "Peaches." She only agrees to do this after seeing Bowser and Kamek torture Keegan-Michael Key's Toad, although things took a turn quite quickly.
Peach would don a gorgeous wedding dress for this event as she went up to the alter to "marry" Bowser, although she manages to smuggle an Ice Flower power-up into her bouquet. After Bowser reveals his plan to execute his prisoners in Peach's name, another wild attempt to win her love, she uses this power-up to freeze Bowser and help Mario and Donkey Kong save the day.
In a moment that may have classically featured Peach admitting defeat until Mario saves her, she showed a capability and strength that had been there for the entire movie as she proved more than useful in battling Bowser.
Where Does Peach Go in Super Mario Bros. 2?
While there are no concrete plans for The Super Mario Bros. 2 to be made, discussions are already taking place over where this iconic group of heroes could go in future movies. For Peach specifically, bringing back Anya Taylor-Joy's hero would be a certainty, and she would unquestionably have the opportunity for even more character development and evolution in a potential sequel.
With the first movie being rightfully focused on Mario and Luigi, the sequel would likely put a little more focus on the Mushroom Kingdom and its inner workings, giving Peach more of a chance to shine. Most likely, Mario and Luigi will be spending more time in this new dimension as Mario's relationship with Peach grows, giving their love a chance to blossom while seeing Peach herself gain new experiences as a ruler.
Additionally, The Super Mario Bros. Movie 2 should have time to dive further into Peach's backstory, which was limited to just one scene that highlighted her arrival in the Mushroom Kingdom.
She'll also have a new challenge to face in Yoshi, who was teased briefly in the movie's second post-credits scene. Considering how immensely powerful Yoshi is in Mario games from all generations, whether he's a villain or a hero, Peach and Mario will have their hands full in protecting the Mushroom Kingdom.
No matter what the future holds for Peach, Illumination delivered a heroine that this era of movies deserves, and she has more than enough room to grow if and when this beloved story continues.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now playing in theaters worldwide.