The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Mario Is Now Officially An Isekai Protagonist

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According to our Scopo-Meter, we check the following in The Super Mario Bros. Movie:

Category Out Of 5

FilmScopes thank the creators of the movie for crafting one of the most beloved game characters into a near-perfect film adaptation while staying as close to the source material as possible.

A movie perfect for the kids, the parents, and even the long-following fans of the games.  


For decades, everyone has heard about Mario, the adored video game character. Mario has won the hearts of millions of gamers all around the world, starting with his 1981 debut in the arcade game Donkey Kong and continuing with his most recent exploits on the Nintendo Switch. And now that the newest Mario film has been out, fans of the series may view their favorite plumber in a completely new way.



Mario is now formally an isekai protagonist in the new film, a subgenre of Japanese anime and manga in which the protagonist travels to another world or realm. This article is aimed to compare multiple isekai anime with each trope that The Super Mario Bros. Movie consists of.


SPOILER WARNING: For those who have not watched the film yet, the content ahead contains spoilers for the movie: The Super Mario Bros. Movie. 


Mario Comes Into A New World And Instantly Falls For The Princess


A princess looking at a plumber
Princess Peach talking to Mario in her palace


Since the first Mario games, Mario’s love for Princess Peach has been a major theme across the entire franchise. Mario has repeatedly shown his unwavering love and dedication to Princess Peach.

From his first appearance in Donkey Kong, where he was tasked with rescuing Pauline, to his exploits in the Mushroom Kingdom, where he prevents Bowser from capturing the princess. A testament to the eternal power of love in the Mario universe, Mario’s love for Peach endures despite all the difficulties and obstacles he encounters on his journeys.

There is not much difference between the games and the movie in this regard. In fact, one of the first acts the mustached plumber does willingly once stepping into the Mushroom Kingdom is to get acquainted with Princess Peach.

However, unlike the games, Princess Peach can very much hold her own ground and it is Luigi who is the one that needs saving from the big bad Bowser. This gives the princess a lot more room to shine in the film and shows the fans of the game just how much of a badass Princess Peach can really be.

The same trope has been extremely popular in Re: Zero. Subaru Natsuki, a high school student who is suddenly thrust into a fantasy realm, is the protagonist of the well-known light novel, anime, and manga series Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World.

Subaru is instantly smitten with Emilia, a half-elf with silver hair, from the moment they first meet. Subaru’s love for Emilia never wavers in the face of all the difficulties and obstacles he encounters in his new environment.


A white-haired girl looking at a boy
Emilia and Subaru


He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe and assist her in achieving her objectives, even if it means putting his own well-being at risk. The series’ core theme is Subaru’s love for Emilia, which is a tribute to the strength of love and the extent people will go to defend those they care about.

The only difference between Re: Zero and The Super Mario Bros. Movie is that Mario is yet to fall completely in love with Princess Peach considering that this is an origin film for the character, it is understandable why his romantic life was not an element the makers of the film sought to make a priority.


The Hero Must Earn The Trust Of The People


A gorilla beating a man
Donkey Kong beating Mario


In the animated film, our protagonist needs to earn the trust of the people he needs to make allies with. He is shown to be an outsider to the Mushroom Kingdom and is treated unfairly because of it. Even when the Princess is by his side, the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom cannot help but be concerned and curious about her alliance with the red plumber.

One of the ways he manages to earn the trust of his allies or to-be allies is by the trial of combat. It is not uncommon for numerous isekai anime to make their protagonist the most hated character in their world until they earn their trust through a show of strength and loyalty. Mario does the exact same when he approaches the Kong Kingdom to supply an army to go against the wrath of Bowser.

A well-known anime series called The Rising of the Shield Hero, which was adapted from a light novel, tells the tale of Naofumi Iwatani, a college student who is transported to a fantasy setting and transformed into one of the four famous heroes.

Naofumi is mistreated and not trusted by the people of the kingdom from the very start of the series. He gets wrongly charged with a crime he did not commit, and this damages his character. He is avoided by the other heroes who were also transported to the same planet as him.


A man cladded in a green coat
Naofumi Iwatani


To clear his identity and win the public’s trust, Naofumi is left with no choice but to rely on his own skills and the support of a few odd allies. Discrimination and the power of resilience in the face of adversity are the themes that the anime emphasizes.

The only difference between The Rising of the Shield Hero and The Super Mario Bros. Movie is that Mario does not make this trope a recurring theme and portrays it in a very gentle manner compared to the brutality of Naofumi’s case.


Mario Attains Power-ups And Masters Them In An Instant


A man in a cat suit
Cat Mario


Since the first games in the Mario series, power-ups have been a staple. Mario can use a number of different power-ups, including the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman. With each power-up, Mario gains new skills that aid him in completing his missions.

For instance, the Super Mushroom makes Mario bigger so he can smash bricks and take more damage against opponents. He can fire fireballs at a distance to destroy adversaries thanks to the Fire Flower. Mario gains temporary invincibility and speed thanks to Star.

Power-ups have grown to be an essential component of the Mario game series, giving the gameplay a strategic and enjoyable component. They also show how important flexibility and making use of existing resources are in overcoming challenges.

What is easily understood by a gamer to master is not something that translates to the big screen. Within the film, the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom masters all kinds of power-ups within mere minutes of acquiring them. No practice is needed, let alone the skill required to use them effortlessly.

The anime series That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime chronicles the exploits of Satoru Mikami, who dies in the real world and is then reborn as a slime in a fantastical universe. The protagonist, now known as Rimuru Tempest, possesses a rare talent that allows him to virtually instantly master every skill he has learned.


That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime
That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime Poster


The “Instant Expert” trope is a recurring topic in numerous anime and manga series. Due to his quick learning curve and ability to master new skills, Rimuru can easily adjust to his new environment and win the respect and trust of his fellow species. During the series, he overcomes a variety of difficulties and problems because of his fast thinking and flexibility.

There is almost zero difference in this trope of anime that has been passed on to this movie. To be fair, this trope is fairly common in a lot of action-driven media products. However, it is still extremely reminiscent of the trope of an isekai anime protagonist to instantly learn new skills and adapt instantaneously.


Bringing The Isekai World To The Protagonists’ World


Bowser from the Mario games
Bowser in Brookyln


According to the information the film presents to us, Mario and Luigi are both humans and were born and brought up in Brooklyn. Considering this fact, there is a section within the movie that transfers a majority of the cast that resided in the game universe into Mario’s version of Brooklyn.

It can be called a rare reverse-isekai event. Where the characters from the fantasy world come into what is the real world according to the protagonist. This is an extremely entertaining segment of the film which provides the audience a sense of being grounded rather than wandering in a fairyland. It is a trope that is executed well within what the movie has to offer and raises the stakes of our protagonists.

In the anime series Re: Creators, the idea of reverse isekai, in which characters from fantasy worlds are brought to the actual world, is explored. The series tells the tale of Sota Mizushino, a high school student who gets caught up in a war involving the characters created by numerous anime, manga, and video game properties.

These brands’ fictional characters have been brought into the real world, and they are dissatisfied with the way their authors have told their tales. Re: Creators discusses the value of storytelling, authorship, and creative expression.


Two girls cladded in fantasy armor while side by side a man dressed in a school uniform
The three protagonists Meteora (left), Sota (middle), and Selesia (right)


While viewers get to see their favorite characters from different franchises interact with their creators, the reverse isekai trope gives the anime a sense of excitement and unpredictability.

The only difference between Re: Creators and The Super Mario Bros. Movie is that the film uses the trope for the simple purpose of raising the stakes and not exploring it further than that. 


Extremely Overpowered By The End


Bowser with a star power-up in his hand
Bowser with a star power-up in his hand


There is no need to mention just how common this trope is in the medium of anime. By the end of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, our red plumber and his brother, Luigi, are more than capable of taking down Bowser for a limited time. The power-up is designed to make the user near god-like in terms of invulnerability and strength if it did not have a timer element attached to it. 

The anime series Sword Art Online explores the idea of virtual reality gaming. The game’s inventor Kayaba Akihiko, who had imprisoned thousands of players, overpowers Kirito, the protagonist, in the season one finale battle.

Over the course of the series, Kirito grew to possess enormous strength and skill, which culminated in the climactic conflict with Kayaba Akihiko. Because of his strength and fighting prowess, Kirito was able to overpower Kayaba Akihiko and put an end to the game.


A man and a ghost stabbing each other with swords
Kayaba Akihiko and Kirito in a ghost form stabbing each other with swords


The overpowering character of Kirito drew criticism from some viewers, who said that it diminished the difficulties he had during the series.

The only difference is that Mario managed to come back to his base levels after attaining the power of the star while Kirito was allowed to keep that level of godhood for the rest of his seasons.

This is what makes Mario an indefinite isekai protagonist. With the sum of all of these tropes that isekai anime use for their plot. It is without a doubt that the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom is an isekai protagonist.


Also Read: The Whale Ending Explained

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