Super Mario has been a long-time fan favorite ever since the first game in the franchise was released. It was a 2d platform game released in 1985 and is a successor to the arcade game Mario Bros. Since then, many more games with the two beloved characters, Mario and Luigi, have been released. No one ever begged to question their superpowers because they didn’t need them, but could we? Is Super Mario a superhero by today’s standards, and what are his powers?
Super Mario was and can be considered a superhero even by today’s standards. Even though his abilities aren’t flashy and mostly revolve around superhuman strength. It still makes him fit the category of a modern-day superhero. Mario lives in his imaginary world called the mushroom kingdom, where he is definitely the talk of the town.
What else can Super Mario do besides having superhuman strength? Does he truly have it, or is it just some power-up he gets from the things he eats and picks up along the way? We have much to discuss since there are so many games and even an upcoming movie, so let’s dive in.
Defining a Superhero
By definition, a superhero is a well-intentioned character that has superhuman powers. Anything that deviates from your average human can be considered a superhero. A question to ask ourselves then is if there was a world where every being had superpowers, who would then be considered a superhero?
We then come to the crucial and probably the most defining part of what makes a superhero, which is their intentions. Every superhero has that same characteristic; they fight evil to do good. They help ordinary people almost always save the whole world, country, or city.
Super Mario is isolated in his world, The Mushroom Kingdom, where a well-known princess, Peach, resides and is the kingdom’s leader. One of the first storylines introduced to the game went a bit like this – Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach, and now the whole Mushroom Kingdom is at risk; a brave Mario sets off to find the Princess, defeat Bowser, and save the kingdom. Sound pretty superheroey to me.
Dissecting Super Mario’s abilities from the storyline
We can’t know for sure how dangerous the monsters Mario faces are, but if we went ahead and compared just their sizes, it would easily bring us to the conclusion that Mario is one strong guy. Let’s look at a few photos of the regular monsters and compare their size to his.
Now let’s take a look at what some of them are: Some are literal giant bullets that fly around and that Mario can either dodge or crush down by jumping on them; some are skeleton zombies about the same size as him but scary, and some are fire spitting plants twice the size of Mario. Hence, it’s without a doubt that Mario has superhuman strength. Even in his world, if anybody could tread through the obstacles and fight the monsters he faces, then anyone would do it, and it wouldn’t be that special either.
But I have to say; there’s a difference between Super Mario in the old games and Super Mario in newer games like Super Smash Brothers, which is a 2d fighter game like Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Combat. My next goal would be to dissect the old and the newer games to see his abilities and what we can conclude from that.
Old game abilities
Realistically speaking, Mario is a small guy who only ever grows bigger and gains the ability to break rocks by spinning if he eats the red and white mushrooms he can find. This does not discourage me from believing that Mario has superhero powers since he’s still able to do most of the things even without the mushroom but without going into too much detail about this now, let’s check out and explain some of his powers.
His spin can break rocks if he jumps and then spins. His spin can only kill a monster if he has the cape that allows him to fly. His spin is likely the best ability he has regarding fighting advantage, and it’s very hard for him to mess it up and get injured instead.
Although Mario is not able to perform a double jump, his range is still impressive and should be noted as a power that only ever confirms that he does have superhuman strength. His jump can also be used as a weapon since he often kills his opponents by jumping on their heads, so it’s guaranteed that his jump is powerful.
Mario can only ever fly if he finds a feather that gives him a cape but let’s compare that to the newer spiderman movies and the fact that his web-throwing power is counted as one. Still, it’s only ever made possible with the web-throwing machines he can activate. With this in mind, flying has to be considered one of his powers.
In the same way that we consider flying to be his superpower, we can also make spitting fire one. Mario has to eat a plant that allows him to throw fireballs at the enemy and kills them with just one hit. He can spit fire for unlimited time as long as he doesn’t get hurt and lose the power the plant gives him.
The suits and Yoshi
Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced the new suits that let him fly, swim faster underwater, and are a new and improved version of the feather and the plant he can eat to gain his powers. You can’t find Yoshi in this game, but you can in others. Although Yoshi doesn’t directly give Mario any powers, because he can find one and ”tame” them right away might make Mario an animal whisperer.
New game abilities
Newer Mario games had to add something to the mix to make him more interesting. In these new games, Mario still has the power to spit fire and use a cape to fly, but he doesn’t need feathers or plants to give him the power. He has them as it is. Another ability worth mentioning is his shield that he can activate at will, which might correspond with the power that mushrooms give him when he eats since they prevent you from dying once an enemy hits you.
The Super Mario Bros. movie
The new Super Mario Bros. movie is set to release on the 5th of April, so although we can’t know for sure what Mario’s abilities will be in the movie, we can take a look at the movie trailer where it is revealed that Mario doesn’t have any powers and has to practice to get to where he is.
The suits and power-ups he gets still help him get by, but without them, he’s just an average joe that trained hard to have the skills we all know he has in-game. It’s up to debate whether or not Super Mario is a superhero, but if you were to ask me, I’d say he is a superhero because he fights for a good cause, even though he might not have any special abilities to help him.