For nearly 30 years, one man has tirelessly struggled and fought against the evils of the world, often receiving no appreciation or gratitude in return. His quest for justice has often brought him up against incredible foes, as well as steadfast friends. He has traveled the world in the face of incredible odds, all for the love of one woman. He is a champion of the weak and mistreated, and rarely receives the recognition he deserves. The man, the warrior, the legend…is none other than Super Mario.
It may come as a surprise to some, but our unlikely hero rose to greatness out of very humble beginnings. Mario originally hailed from New York City, where he worked as a landlord and a free-lance plumber. His brother and roommate, Luigi, often accompanied him on his plumbing endeavors, but spent most of his time serving as a food critic for Italian-American restaurants.
Mario was hailed for his plumbing prowess all throughout Little Italy, earning the nickname “Jumpman” from close friends and family, but his reputation rose to national attention in 1983 when the sewers of New York City were invaded by dangerous creatures of an unknown origin. When riding the 1 Train on the NYC Metro Transit one summer afternoon, Mario debarked at the Houston Street stop, on his way to an emergency plumbing call. As he was leaving the train car, however, he spied an unusual four-legged turtle scurrying about the tracks. A set of red, beady eyes stared back at him…and then two sets, and three, and ten. The entire subway stop was filled with vermin, who looked intent on overtaking the subway platform and the citizens who lingered there. With only seconds to act and turtles encroaching on his position, Mario sent a flying kick to the nearest creature, which surprisingly flattened the monster on its back…rendering it incapacitated.
The other turtles looked at each other in alarm: how had the plumber guessed their weakness? The remaining nine creatures cowered in fear…how had their well-guarded secret become exposed? Only their clan knew that falling prostrate onto their shells would leave them powerless. A second kick would knock them out completely. They could not risk an encounter with such a worthy foe. The turtles immediately retreated further into the sewer, leaving Mario as a confused and lauded hero.
Word quickly spread about Mario’s bravery, and the Mayor of New York began to call upon him for other sewer emergencies. Mario is well-noted for developing such weapons as the “POW” bomb and became legendary for never running away from a fight (no, really…he REALLY can’t run away from a fight…whenever he runs off screen, he just returns to the same screen, over and over again). He became an acclaimed conqueror of Side Steppers and Fighter Flies, and his fighting expertise grew with every new challenge…as did his reputation with the ladies.
Mario possessed a shy, reserved demeanor…often not piecing together more than two words in a sentence (i.e. “Let’s go!”, Mamma mia!”, “It’s-a Me!” and the ever popular,“Wee hee!”). When he began to attract more attention from the female gender, he was often flustered and unaware of how to respond. That was, until, his true love presented itself in the form of a princess…Princess Peach.
Princess Peach had heard of Mario’s conquests from her kingdom far, far away in the northern parts of Canada (what? I’d imagine the Mushroom Kingdom to be in Canada, wouldn’t you?). So moved and impressed with his bravery and skill, she travelled from her castle over many miles and international borders to lay eyes on such a figure. Word has it that during one of many “Mario Rallies” which the city held on a week to week basis, Princess Peach fought her way to the front of the melee and finally gazed upon Mario, who stood on a platform addressing a crowd of thousands. She somehow managed to capture Mario’s eye for the briefest of moments, and blew him a kiss. Entranced by her beauty, floored by her golden yellow hair, and smitten with her pinkiest pink dress, Mario fell…and he fell hard. Even more so when he learned she had baked him a cake, as well. It was love at first bite.
Mario, with Luigi and Princess Peach at his side, fought tirelessly against the scourge of the sewers, and soon they had cleansed the city of every monstrosity which plagued it…or so they thought.
The story of our hero takes a dark, dark turn in the year of 1985…a year ever remembered in infamy (not because I was born then), for it produced a dark figure who would attempt to take over the world and challenge even the purest of loves: Bowser.
Bowser, you see, was a jealous man, and jealousy is the mother of all evil. Bowser had long yearned for the reciprocal love and affection from Princess Peach, but she had continually rejected his advances, claiming that, amongst other reasons, he just wasn’t “The One.” Years and years of rejection had frozen poor Bowser’s heart, and the bitterness which overwhelmed his being was only exacerbated when Mario and Princess Peach became engaged in 1985. His unrequited love soon turned into a quest for domination, and, on a moonless spring night, he savagely abducted the Princess from her bedroom, transporting her to a fortress surrounded by lava on the outskirts of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario was heart-broken at the news, but not defeated. Accompanied by his brother, Mario traversed miles and miles of land, sea, and air to rescue the Princess, encountering Bowser’s minions along the way. He learned much along his journey, acquiring knowledge about mushrooms, how to hold your breath underwater, and he even expanded his wardrobe, including a suit of red and white which allowed him to shoot fire balls. Through a long and winding road, Mario finally found Bowser’s castle, and defeated him in a famous showdown on top of a pit of lava. This clip of Bower’s defeat is world-famous, and can be found on YouTube.
Princess Peach and Mario were reunited, amidst a fanfare of appreciative members from the Mushroom Kingdom. All was well with the world, and marriage bells were destined to be rung in the near future for our lovebirds…but those of us who know the legend of Mario know that this picture-perfect finale is not the end of the story…for, you see, Bowser was not really dead…only mostly dead. And pissed off like hell.
Over the next few years, Bowser would continue to harass Mario and the Princess, continually abducting her, showering her with praise, and attempting to force her into marriage, an idea she was not too keen on. Mario, bound by his love and undying faithfulness for the Princess, unfailingly rescued her, again and again, despite increasingly difficult odds. One year, Mario’s plumbing income was so low that he was forced to use vegetables as weapons. Other years, the crime-fighting business proved to be very lucrative, allowing Mario to buy more and more outfits which enabled him to fly and swim underwater. He even managed to become pretty proficient with a magic flute during his down time, and sometimes subs for the New York Philharmonic. Mario was able to consistently defeat Bowser and rescue the Princess, time and time again, with little to no recognition or praise. He was a man in love…and love knows no bounds.
Around 1994, however, it became very clear that Bowser’s attempts to abduct Princess Peach were working just a little too well. On a planned vacation to Dinosaur Land, Peach went mysteriously missing once again, back in the all-too-familiar clutches of King Bowser (yep, he had become a king by this time). Mario, true to his devotional boyfriend duties, successfully rescued Peach from his archenemy for the fourth time, but clouds of doubt began to fill his head: do I still thrill her? why is it so easy for Bowser to kidnap her? does she really want to be rescued?
I mean, let’s face facts here: Mario had, for almost ten years, spent most of his life fighting off dangerous creatures and conquering perilous terrains just to save Princess Peach. He continually placed her on a pedestal, tossing aside job offers and other opportunities to ensure her well-being, and she only ever seemed to reward him with…cake??? Yes, the occasional kisses were nice, but they had become few and far between.
Mario was only further confused a few years down the road, when he and the Princess were still dating. When the evil lord Smithy, a robotic blacksmith from an alternate dimension, attempted to take over the world, the Princess was lost, yet again, in the fray and confusion which followed Smithy’s appearance. Reluctantly and hesitantly, Bowser offered to help Mario in his quest to recover the Princess.
Help?!?, Mario thought. Why on earth would Bowser want to help me, when he could try to capture her on his own? But, an worse thought filled his head: does she love him back?
It was a completely legitimate thought. After all, the days of Peach’s captivity had grown increasingly longer as the years went by. She was continually abducted like clock-work…almost as if Bowser was celebrating an anniversary of sorts, coming every spring and…hey, wait a minute…
Despite a flood of rumors and claims that Princess Peach had developed Stockholm Syndrome and affection for her captor, Mario wouldn’t listen. He knew in his heart that Peach’s love was true, and he continued to come to her rescue, even though his journeys always led him up against challenges of every shape and difficulty. Mario even gave in to the “reality TV” craze in 1998, when he allowed film crews, for the first time ever, to document his experiences with recovering lost Power Stars and, as always, his Princess.
Nearly 12 years after the “Power Star Fiasco,” Mario is still hard at work defending the world from the threats of Bowser and other villains. He has faced Koopa Troopas, lava pits, sandstorms, flying fortresses…he has used warp whistles, fire flowers, go-karts, domesticated ride-able dinosaurs…he has visited Dinosaur Land, outer space, Giant Land…he has done all this with little to no recognition, especially during his later years.
And, on top of it all, he has done it solely for the love of one woman. I don’t know about you, but I hope someday to find my Mario, who would travel the world to ensure my safety, fight off any threats of danger, place me on a pedestal, continually rescue me from difficult times, and never, ever give up on me.
Bravo, Mario. Take a bow.