Since 1981, the Mario franchise continues to take the world by storm with visually pleasing and exciting new games in many genres, including the iconic platformer with the classic Donkey Kong arcade game. Though some of the most easily nameable titles in the franchise have seen Mario and Luigi battling Bowser and his armies to rescue the damsel-in-distress Princess Peach, there have been several other titular series seeing the plumber brothers facing more powerful threats. From acclaimed series like Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi to the sister franchise Donkey Kong, the colorful, ever-growing world of Mario isn’t short of making and using great villains.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie, releasing theatrically on April 5, sees Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) travelling to the Mushroom Kingdom for the first time in a world being ravaged by Bowser (Jack Black). While the movie is set in stone, with hype and anticipation flying higher than the clouds in Rainbow Ride, calls for a sequel have been put into question. Should a Mario Bros.-sequel be put into production, here’s who I’d want to see as the universe’s next villain.
10. King K. Rool
Though King K. Rool may be a long shot, there’s no doubt that the King of the Kremlings could make an impact on this cinematic world. First debuting in Donkey Kong Country, King K. Rool has mostly served as a rival to the Kong family, wanting to take the Kongs’ bananas for himself and his Krew. However, K. Rool hasn’t been present in the recent games within the Donkey Kong franchise, lowering what chances he had of appearing in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
However, should K. Rool and the Kremlings appear in the sequel, it will be interesting to see the Mario-Donkey Kong dynamic being developed as K. Rool makes his first step on the Mushroom Kingdom. If anything, Donkey Kong could have his own modern spin-off (in spirit of the Donkey Kong Country animated series) and see the Kong family facing the Kremlings and more while expanding the Mario cinematic world.
As the first antagonist of the Mario & Luigi series, Cackletta was one of the more formidable foes that the Bros had ever faced. Debuting in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Cackletta had stolen Princess Peach’s voice, luring the Bros to Beanbean Kingdom. Though she was defeated, her untamable powers as a witch and devious attitude made her dominant. She was even able to take control of an amnesiac Bowser!
While Cackletta could be the next villain, I see her being reserved behind-the-scenes. She’d be pushing for war between the Mushroom and Beanbean Kingdoms, but hopefully her motives could be revealed earlier on. Besides, the best twist villains rely on making the villain’s plans known to the audience before the twist.
Out of all the paranormal entities in the Mario world, Antasma may be one of the toughest ethereal entities that Bros have fought. Debuting in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Antasma became a nightmarish parasite who sought out the Dark Stone to take over the world. Stronger in Dream World but weak in the real world, Antasma could be one of the next opponents Mario and Luigi have to face.
Antasma could definitely work when placed in a horror setting a-la Luigi’s Mansion with King Boo. While King Boo tries to haunt the Bros in the real world, Antasma could try to hunt down the two in the Dream World. This could ultimately lead to a spooky competition to see who could create the best scare, but we’ll have to see where that goes!
7. Princess Shroob
As an extraterrestrial leader of an alien race, Princess Shroob is definitely not to be taken for granted. Debuting in Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time, Princess Shroob, along with her sister Elder Princess Shroob, invaded the Mushroom Kingdom due to their dying homeworld. After kidnapping Peach in the past, it ultimately created a different timeline where the Shroobs ruled the entire kingdom.
The Shroobs’ invasion could work in a similar way to War of the Worlds, perhaps even trying to terraform the Mushroom Kingdom into their new homeworld, while retaining the story from Partners In Time. However, with the Lumas also making their appearance, it could hint at a galaxy-scale conflict between Rosalina and the Shroobs.
While the entries so far have been relatively surface-level, Dimentio takes things to a different plane of existence. Debuting in Super Paper Mario, Dimentio is the dimension-bending mastermind behind taking the Chaos Heart and fulfilling the pessimistic prophecy of the Dark Prognosticus. Manipulating Count Bleck into doing his bidding through his sheer charisma, Dimentio is certainly one not to be trifled with.
In a way, Dimentio works similarly to DC’s Vyndktvx, a fifth-dimensional imp like Mxyzptlk, but more sadistic. If Dimentio were to be the sequel’s big bad, place him in a scenario where he’d want to mess with the Bros through any means necessary in order to gain some sort of redemption for himself. Who knows? There’s still a lot to be explored with an interesting character like Dimentio!
Now Wart may look and feel like Bowser, but they’re definitely not the same. Debuting in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic as Mamu (later in Super Mario Bros. 2 as Wart), Wart stole the Dream Machine, much like Dream Team’s Dream Stone, in order to create terrifying monsters to enact his rule. As a once-ruling dictator of Subcon, Wart has amassed his own army that could even rival that of Bowser’s.
If Wart is the next villain, then Wart should either have this own kingdom separate from Bowser or start his own after seceding. For the second option, Wart could be established as a minion who once worked for Bowser and, depending on how the movie ends, could have taken over the throne. If Bowser does survive, then it’ll be interesting to see the two brutes go at it.
There’s only one person who has fury in the world and his name is Fawful! First debuting in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Fawful has been a recurring character within this series, first serving under Cackletta and then becoming a leader of his own. Driven by his mischievous ambitions and ends, Fawful is one of the more popular choices many want to see come to life.
Surprisingly, Fawful could have a longer lifespan in the Mario cinematic world than Cackletta. If Cackletta is chosen to be the sequel’s villain, Fawful could be the secretive secret influencer that persuades Cackletta to pursue her goal while planning his own revolution. This could possibly play out in a third sequel, with Fawful taking the reigns for his goal of world domination.
3. Wario and Waluigi
What’s a Mario game without the Bros’ antitheses, Wario and Waluigi? Though both debuted at different times, Wario in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and Waluigi in Mario Tennis, Wario and Waluigi are the greedy, hot-tempered rivals to Mario and Luigi, seeking to either stop or get a one-up on them at any cost. Together, the two are unmatched in raging ardor, but their wits are a bit questionable.
Wario and Waluigi could fit nicely into a sequel, with the two having their own plumbing company rivaling Super Mario Bros. Plumbing, funded by their own criminal activities. Once Wario and Waluigi enter the world of the Mushroom Kingdom, they could try to undo the good deeds Mario and Luigi have done while building themselves up as this world’s next heroes.
Though Bowser’s armies may be strong, they’re nothing compared to the fierce gauntlet that the Koopalings are made to be. Debuting in Super Mario Bros. 3, the Koopalings operate as a collective trust with unique powers under Bowser, enacting his will with no doubt. Each Koopaling, from Larry to Ludwig to Wendy to Roy, is diverse in nature, though none of them bear ties to the family name.
The Koopalings could work with or without Bowser, but it’d be more interesting to see them work on their own. With the Koopa throne empty, it could lead the Koopalings to see who will get the throne by kidnapping Peach and stopping Mario and Luigi. However, this could only work if this list’s top contender isn’t considered as the next big villain.
1. Bowser Jr.
Of course, no one can forget the tiny, adorable, yet psychopathically energetic Bowser Jr.. First debuting in Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr. is heir to the Koopa throne and the enigmatic son of Bowser, helping his father out no matter what. With a young, brash attitude and several tricks up his sleeve, Bowser Jr. may certainly be a big threat, if not bigger than his father.
If Bowser Jr. isn’t already introduced in the movie, then you could definitely set him up and fit him within a sequel. Bowser Jr. could be developed through his own coming-of-age and the taking of the throne, trying to fulfill his father’s goals while sticking to his own ambitions. Overall, you could definitely take Bowser Jr. in many directions in a sequel movie, making him our top contender for the next big bad in the Mario animated movie franchise.