My great-niece and great-nephew, emphasis on great, finally saw The Super Mario Bros. Movie this weekend.

I haven’t talked to them about the experience, but their mom, my niece, said they had an “awesome” time.

I’m happy for them and everyone else who enjoyed the movie. Indeed, I’m glad the video game franchise brings so much joy to so many. But the Mario universe confuses the expletive out of me.

For starters, why are plumbers fighting all these villains? (By the way, my great-niece has started using the word villains to describe the bad guys in TV shows or movies. She is as adorable as she is smart.) I wish I had plumbing skills, but if I were fighting giant turtles, I wouldn’t call plumbers for help.

At least I believe Bowser, the main villain, is a turtle. I think he looks more like a dragon, but I didn’t know until a couple years ago that Mario got his start in a Donkey Kong game or that Donkey Kong wears a tie, so don’t come to me for your Mario intel. (I did know that Donkey Kong is a gorilla. I’m not completely oblivious.)

The day I learned Donkey Kong was part of the Mario universe, I also learned he has a family. My nieces, great-niece, and great-nephew paid no attention to my many Donkey Kong-related questions including: Why does he wear a tie? Does he work in an office? If so, what does he do for a living?

It’s as if they didn’t care.

I also don’t understand the point of the mushrooms and the coins in the series. What is Mario doing with all that money? He also frequently uses his head to break bricks and blocks. And the only protection he has for his head is a cap. I fear he has severe brain damage from all that head banging.

But nothing slows him and the other characters down. In Mario Kart, they race go carts…on land, in the water, everywhere.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am terrible at video games. I was feeling pretty good about myself when I didn’t come in last place in a spirited family Mario Kart race last year. That is, I was feeling pretty good until my niece pointed out that the only player I bested was my then-4-year-old great-nephew.

Anyway, when my great-niece started getting into Mario as a toddler, she talked about princesses and Luigi and the aforementioned Bowser. So ignorant was my knowledge of Mario that I thought these were new characters. Then I learned they’d been around forever. It’s like they’re characters in a soap opera.

She also gave all of us Mario personas. Who was I?

Bowser. The villain.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.