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Dear Bowser, your princess is in THIS castle

An admittedly thirsty ode to Jack Black’s version of Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Bowser emerges from the darkness to claim a Super Star in The Super Mario Bros. Movie Image: Nintendo, Illumination/Universal Pictures
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

I went into The Super Mario Bros. Movie without much opinion on Bowser as a character, and I came out a changed woman.

I knew he was the big bad guy and that he wanted to kidnap Princess Peach, but that was about it. Most of my Mario familiarity comes from Mario Party and Mario Kart games, which are mostly about having fun with friends in a local multiplayer setting, not about diving into the lore of the Mushroom Kingdom. Going into the movie, I expected Bowser to be that same big bad guy — and I was right, to an extent.

But The Super Mario Bros. Movie version of Bowser isn’t just the King of the Koopas who wants to selfishly kidnap a princess — he actually has a big ol’ crush on her, and thinks she’s just the coolest, prettiest girl in the world. Voicing Bowser, Jack Black masterfully switches back and forth between conquering emperor and an anxious dude who just wants his crush to notice him. Not only does he nervously practice his marriage proposal with his Magikoopa advisor Kamek, he also writes a whole song for her at the piano, crooning “Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches, Peaches,” in the same improvisational way that I use when I make up songs on the spot about my cat. Beneath that formidable and powerful exterior, there’s an awkward, shy personality that blushes when his crush does something cute.

In short, dear reader, this version of Bowser captured my heart.

I know people have historically been thirsty for Bowser for as long as they’ve been able to draw and share horny fan art. I get the long-standing fascination with the sexy potential of villainy. I understand it. But at the same time, I never really resonated with it, because the Mario games didn’t necessarily seem capable of fueling shipping desires. There’s no real romantic potential in them, and that’s fine.

But now I finally get the whole idea of Bowser thirst. I see the Koopa he is behind the gruff, rough exterior. And what an adorable, sweet Koopa that is! I, too, would smooch Bowser.

So, dear Bowser — specifically The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) Bowser as played by Jack Black — please know that even though Princess Peach might not accept your hand in marriage, Princess Petrana most certainly will. I’m not turned off by your desire to conquer the world. In fact, that’s a bonus to me. I will gladly rule by your side, so long as you promise to serenade me and hold my hand as we conquer the world.

an image of bowser in the super mario bros. movie, with the photo of a real life woman in a wedding dress photoshopped next to him Graphic: Petrana Radulovic/Polygon | Source images: Nintendo, Illumination/Universal Pictures, Petrana Radulovic

The new Mario movie version of Bowser isn’t just a capable leader — he also has a sensitive side! Yeah, OK, maybe he doesn’t take rejection with as much maturity as he ought to, but at the same time, I think Peach makes a snap judgment about his proposal without full consideration. She judges Bowser based on his appearance and some preconceived notions! No wonder he ends up snapping. He’s insecure!

That’s OK, because her loss is my gain. After all, I romanced Garrus Vakarian in Mass Effect, so the fact that Bowser is a big, scaly reptile-man is a bonus for me. I acknowledge that there’s some work to be put into this relationship, but at the same time, I think I can fix him. All the elements are there — the devotion, the sensitivity, the power. Like my other relatively recent villainous crush, Namor, Bowser has immense power and ambition, but still has a softer side. He just needs to tap into it a bit more. We can work on it together.

Also, I would look cool and sexy as a supreme empress over Bowser’s kingdom and the surrounding domains, but that is a story for another time. Peach can stay on as a figurehead in the Mushroom Kingdom, but let’s be real: It’s not like she’s been doing much as a ruler, other than being very good at an obstacle course.

(For what it’s worth, I asked my husband what he thinks of my proposed arrangement with Bowser. He replied, “No comment.”)

Bowser (specifically this Bowser in this movie), consider this my official application for Princess of the Koopas, and your bride-to-be. I’ll be waiting for your answer, and practicing my platforming skills.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out in theaters now.

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