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The Weird, Wild History of Toad from the Super Mario World
From The Super Mario Bros. Movie to Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood, Toad is having a moment.
If you're a bipedal fungi, life is looking very good for you right now. In particular, Toad — the cute little Nintendo character who resides in the Mushroom Kingdom — is having a moment this summer.
After a hit theatrical run, The Super Mario Bros. Movie debuts on Peacock August 3. The beautifully animated film features actor Keegan-Michael Key's adorable and feisty take on the video game character. And if you have plans to visit Universal Studios Hollywood any time soon, the park's recently opened Super Nintendo World just revealed daily meet-and-great opportunities with the smiley fun-guy. As of July 17, Toad now joins Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach for daily attendee interactions within the land.
But if you're not a gamer, or you're just not entirely clear on who or what Toad is, we've got you covered with some history and context.
Everything you need to know about Toad from Super Mario Bros.
The mushroom with the handsome headpiece is celebrating its 38th birthday in 2023, as the the character made its debut in 1985 in the video game Super Mario Bros. It's the creation of game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who is the brains behind the entire Super Mario world of characters and locations. Toad has appeared in just about every iteration of the Mario games, either as a playable or non-playable character. In the box office hit The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Toad is a major character working alongside Peach to keep Bowser from invading their peaceful Kingdom. And at the Super Nintendo World lands in Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood, Toad is one of just six featured Power-Up Band characters that can be your avatar as you interact within the land and gather coins. (They also run the Toadstool Cafe which is very mushroom themed from top to bottom.)
To be clear, Toad is both the name of the specific character who is the dedicated attendant to Princess Peach and also refers to the general populace of Toads who reside in the Mushroom Kingdom. Yes, they all look very similar. Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. And their gender isn't really specified. They all wear mushroom themed hats (with variations coming in the color of the hat and its dots) and sassy vests. Sometimes they get crazy with kerchiefs and shoe colors, but on the whole, they make conformity cute.
Initially featured as a background character or reticent support in video game cut scenes, Toad has evolved into much more of a player in the video game iterations of the character. In fact, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario 3D World made Toad the fastest character in both games, but the weakest jumper. In Wario's Woods, Toad is the only playable character in the game. And in the 2007 game, Super Mario Galaxy, the more heroic character of Captain Toad was introduced to lead a group of explorers called the Toad Brigade. Akin to a tiny treasure obsessed Indiana Jones, Captain Toad has been a recurring character in more than six individual video game titles. Lest we forget, Toad is also one heck of a racer and has been a playable character in every version of Mario Kart since its inception. They even created a sister character, Toadette, who can race in tandem with Toad.
Toad: Movie Star
With almost 40 years of history and mythology built up in the video games, comic books, and animated television adaptations of Super Mario World, Toad really got to shine in The Super Mario Bros. Movie as a pint-sized hero. Keegan-Michael Key voices a very Captain Toad-like version of the character who is a brave steward of his Princess. Carrying a frying pan and plenty of attitude as they gather forces to stop Bowser's army, Toad is arguably the most aggressive and heroic iteration of the smiley character. He gets tortured and knocked around, but still fights for his lady leader. Long-time fans of Toad say this characterization is finally one that realizes his potential as an equal alongside Mario, Luigi, and Peach. It sets the stage for an even more heroic return in a likely sequel, which we applaud as existing stans of this tiny terror in the making.
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is now open, head here to learn more. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now available to watch at home and primed for Peacock streaming tomorrow, August 3.