Has Nintendo Finally Done Right By Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros. Movie?

Of all the Disney Princesses, I love Mulan the most.

Of all video game female protagonists, I love Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft the best.

Of Nintendo…I adore Princess Zelda in most iterations.

I have nothing against extremely “feminine” gender roles, but I used to always hold a grudge against Princess Peach. Bowser always sought to capture her, and for many decades, she’d simply wait to be rescued. Boring. Not just boring but also insulting. At least Zelda had some agency and a mystical sealing power! So, whenever I see Peach in multi-player spin offs like Mario Kart, Smash Bros., and Mario Party, I immediately scroll past her and that silly pink dress.

Game after game, Princess Peach is always getting kidnapped… And how many times have you seen her fight back?

Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
Image Credit: Nintendo via Shiromi
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
Image Credit: Nintendo via Shiromi
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
Image Credit: Nintendo via Shiromi
Super Mario Odessy (2017)
Image Credit: Nintendo via GinagoG

On November 30th, 2022, the public saw a whole new side of the Mushroom Kingdom’s princess. Princess Peach spoke up against Bowser’s threat to rule the world and demanded to do something about it. There was even a point in the trailer where she is twirling a halberd. There definitely appears to be more of a partnership in the Super Mario Bros movie between Mario and Peach–she trains him to be a worthy protector.

What also helps make this new iteration of Peach more believable is her voice actress, Anya Taylor-Joy. Peach’s voice in the video games…to put it simply…just sounded a bit too much like a bimbo–an all-too feminine, high-pitched, delicate flower. Anya’s voice fits Peach’s new image and comes out strong and down to earth–someone who is likable. After watching the trailer, I shut my laptop, excited about her character above all others (and I was psyched for Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong and Charlie Day as Luigi, the superior Mario brother).

Image credit: Nintendo via Know Your Meme

While this has been long overdue, I believe Nintendo and Illumination made the correct decision with Peach’s character. No longer is she the damsel in distress, and at least from what I saw in the trailer, she is not overpowered to the point where I felt they were pandering either.

Like with most consumable media, it has taken a long time for it to be commonplace for females to have active roles in video games (whether controlled by the player, or as an NPC). However, I felt Nintendo fell significantly behind with Peach. Princess Peach has taken the backseat for the bulk of the franchises’ 37 year history. It’s a bit of a shame it took this long because it is also Nintendo’s ultimate franchise. I do wonder if Illumination played more of a role with Peach’s character development vs Nintendo.

Some other shout outs to strong video game women are:

  • Ada Wong (Resident Evil series)
  • Lara Croft (Tomb Raider series)
  • Aloy (Horizon series)
  • Samus Aran (Metroid series)
  • Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy series)
  • Tifa Lockhart (Final Fantasy series)
  • Fem Shep (Mass Effect series)
  • Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
  • Ellie (The Last of Us)
  • Abby (The Last of us Part 2)
  • Bayonetta (Bayonetta series)
  • Mio (Xenoblade Chronicles 3)
  • Claire Redfield (Resident Evil series)
  • Paula Polestar (Earthbound)

Now, what makes a strong female video game character? It’s not necessarily black or white. Women can be badass in pink or in black. She can be sweet, or she could be as emotional as a brick-wall. Also, a woman can still need help, as long as the need isn’t derived simply because she is female.

Princess Peach has an incredible opportunity to show the world what it means to be strong and feminine. She can be a fabulous role model to young girls and give us older women a sense of relief. Princes Peach finally broke the mold.

Thank you, Nintendo and Illumination.

The next time I boot up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to play the next wave of tracks, I am going with my girl, Peach, and kick everyone’s tail.

If you haven’t checked out the latest trailer and witnessed Peach’s power, check it out below:

Source: Illumination

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