On April 5th, Nintendo’s highly anticipated “The Super Mario Bros.” movie finally hit theaters. With a talented cast, colorful graphics, and a spin on the classic video game beloved for generations, the picture quickly proved itself to be a smashing success.
The movie broke multiple box office records and continues to earn an average of $55M per day. Even Rotten Tomatoes stated that the film was creative and silly, a delight for gaming fans and viewers of all ages.
This is particularly true for the characterization of the spiny, princess-kidnapping villain Bowser.
A Princess for a King
Voiced by Jack Black, this spiny, red-haired turtle is a classic video game villain. His main goal is to conquer the world, and he isn’t afraid to break the rules to get his way. In the Super Mario Bros. movie, he appears as the tyrannical ruler of Koopa Kingdom and the Dark Lands. His goal is to steal “Power Stars” from neighboring kingdoms, then kidnap – and subsequently marry – the Mushroom Kingdom’s beloved Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy).
However, his “fiance” is not very keen on his plan. She enlists the help of Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt), an Italian plumber who is looking for his brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day), and Mario embarks on a long journey to liberate her from Bowser’s clutches. In the case of this movie, he also helps her lead an army against the tyrant.
This classical hero versus villain concept is well-known by fans, but the Super Mario Bros. movie takes the characterization of these iconic figures much further. For example, Princess Peach is no longer a helpless victim; she is the first to take a stand when her kingdom is threatened. Similarly, Bowser’s villainous melodrama is heightened to the point that he not only plays into the lighthearted narrative of the entire film, but he places a significant portion of the comedy on his scaly shoulders. This is not only because of the script but also his voice actor.
Back with Black
Jack Black has truly embodied the spirit of Bowser and the Super Mario Bros. film through silly cameos, dressing his suits up with spikes, and even starring in multiple commercials. Whether Bowser is crooning a love ballad to an indifferent Princess Peach or threatening to cut off Luigi’s mustache, Black’s voice fills with an over-the-top, goofy passion that ensures one can’t help but laugh along.
His dedication to the bit also goes beyond typical contractual promotion. Not only did Black show up to the Los Angeles premiere of the movie in full Bowser cosplay, but he routinely posts silly Instagram videos of him hamming it up in Super Mario Bros. merchandise for the camera. This flaunting has become a hallmark for many of Black’s recent roles, but when it comes to Bowser, Black kicks it up another notch.
On April 7th, Black released the full version of his song “Peaches.” This is the love ballad that Bowser bellows to Princess Peach in the Super Mario Bros. movie, and it took the internet by storm.
Bowser’s Villain Wikipedia page states his hobbies are “waging wars on other kingdoms, scheming, and playing the piano.” Luckily for the children in the audience, the producers of the Super Mario Bros. movie homed in on the last item. Rather than show Bowser as an unfeeling overlord, the film touches on his explosive – and fairly relatable – rage and jealousy at Princess Peach’s unrequited love.
In an interview with IGN Middle East, Black admitted that Bowser is his favorite video game character, and it surprised him to see the movie lean into Bowser’s softer side. Particularly when it comes to music, one would not expect to see an oversized turtle tickling the ivories with his wickedly sharp claws. However, the choice to feature a villain singing a rock ballad in a lava-filled castle fits the decision to cast Jack Black.
Outside of his above passion for his craft, Black has a long history working with music, including starring in the musical School of Rock and jamming with Tenacious D. As such, Black states that while he had the talent, he was a little skeptical when the producers first told him to sing. Yet, when the producers sent him a thirty-second clip of the love ballad, Black couldn’t deny that it was hilarious. He set out to work with producer and collaborator John Spiker, and before they knew it, they had a full-length track.
Peaches Peaches Peaches
The love ballad is only a minute and a half long, but it’s dangerously catchy. The song has already made it to the Top 100 on iTunes and has caused a social media storm on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter. This was partially because of Black’s newest publicity stunt, the music video.
In the clip, Black appears inside a mushroom hut wearing a Bowser-inspired green suit. His outfit is complete with a headpiece of flaming orange hair, and he proceeds to bellow the soulful lyrics as he plays a pink piano. The absurd image continues to cement Black as a perfect choice for the movie and the role, though Black reveals that the song was a little mind-bending in a classically curious way.
The fact that [Bowser] has this sensitive, insecure side and this romantic kind of unrequited love is funny… This song is delicate and romantic, but then it also has a dark side. It’s also kind of a greedy love and it’s kind of a jealous love… So it’s like, is that even love? I don’t know. But it’s an interesting thing to explore.Jack Black, IGN Middle East
Whether the song becomes the next musical masterpiece of the ages remains to be seen, but there is no denying that it reveals Jack Black’s dedication and unique fit for this new and entertaining role. His contagious passion allows the audience to tap into the childlike wonder that video games can inspire, and while Black’s enthusiasm may not be for everyone, with each new musical and theatrical addition to his character, Jack Black continues to delight fans and prove why he was the perfect villain for such a beloved franchise.