In video game form, Nintendo has always displayed Mario as the good guy and Wario as the bad guy, but they are omitting the fact that Mario bullied Wario when they were young, causing the star of the WarioWare series to have a particular obsession with the red-clad plumber.
I mean, it should come as no surprise, as I have covered Mario cheating on Peach, Mario punching Yoshi in the back of the head, Mario killing tons of people, Mario’s abusive relationship with Donkey Kong, and Mario casually exposing himself. Wario just seems like another innocent victim in a long line of Mario’s mishaps.
This is that time Mario bullied Wario when they were young.
Back in 1993, Nintendo started rolling out a short story comic called “Mario vs. Wario” in their Nintendo Power magazine, and then later that year, manga artist and writer Kentaro Takekuma and illustrator Charlie Nozawa published it in Takekuma’s fun Super Mario Adventures manga.
The story of “Mario vs. Wario” is a telling one, because it does not simply paint the good guy (Mario) versus the bad guy (Wario) like we have always seen in the games. Instead, they humanize the two characters and level the playing field, but in doing so, they actually pull off a double turn and expose Mario for who he actually is.
In the manga, moments from Wario’s childhood appear to hurt the “successful” businessman, as he experiences proper bullying and trauma from none other than Mario Mario. What is even more shocking is that when confronted by Wario later in life, Mario is seemingly unrepentant while also continuing to be a jerk and insult the poor Wario.
Notice when Wario confronts Mario on the matter of his childhood trauma, not only does Mario neglect apologizing, but he also passes it off like it is no big deal while immediately calling Wario “a wimp”, exemplifying his bullying once again. It appears Wario’s poor behavior later in life is thanks to none other than the real bully, Mario.
One of the earliest pages in this comic series shows an adult Wario reminiscing a couple times Mario treated him poorly as children. His line “It’s been 20 years, and he still makes me furious!” is a telling one, because bullying is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) and this story exemplifies childhood traumatic stress in poor Wario.
Mario seems like one of those individuals who does not take into consideration anyone’s feelings but his own, and he discredits (Possibly even gaslights) other people’s experiences as if they never happened or he didn’t intend it that way. This exemplifies a strong case of narcissism in Mario, as he displays extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes him ignore the needs of those around them, particularly Wario in this instance.
Although this is a comic series for kids and is clearly meant to make its readers laugh, there is an underlying message here that is psychologically damning. Take into consideration that Japan suffers some of the worst childhood bullying in schools around the world, and now think about how these same children read comics like this growing up that glorify this type of behavior and villainize “the weak”. Yes, Mario bullied Wario. We can see that, but this is a product of culture that still seeps its way into societies worldwide.
Wario is absolutely the victim, and yet he was never given a platform to express his trauma so that he could heal and move on. Not only that, but Mario did not just bully Wario when they were children, but he continued to do so when they were adults for his own entertainment, which only reinforced Wario’s trauma all the more.
In the first comic slide above, I cut out the bottom two panels to show how trauma continues in the form of PTSD for Wario, because in one of the stories, Wario remembers the pain of playing “Sheriff” vs “Rustler” with Mario over 1200 times and only getting to play the role of sheriff once. Mario tormented him, and even the one time Wario was sheriff, Mario proceeded to ridicule him in the role.
The story closes with Mario not apologizing for his actions, insulting Wario as adults, and then proceeding to prod Wario’s trauma by once again becoming the sheriff and villainizing poor Wario.
I apologize for going down a dark path here, but as you can tell by my many articles about Mario, I am not a fan of the character. He is not the hero we want or need. Frankly, he is the rightful villain of the Super Mario universe, and I think it is high time for Wario to take the mantle of hero and show us that he is capable of defeating his inner-demons and taking out the real bad guy in Mario.
I mean, it is bad enough that his name in Japanese is “bad Mario” (悪い + マリオ = ワリオ), so how about we pull off the double turn in the games, Nintendo? In the next title that features both characters, let’s expose Mario for who he actually is and give Wario a platform he has never really been given. We need a new type of hero, and I believe Wario is the one.
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link and enjoying this “That Time” article. What do you think of how Mario bullied Wario? Are you shocked? Not at all? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Happy gaming, everyone.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.