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'The Legend of Zelda': How to Approach an Adaption


Courtesy of Nintendo


The last few years have seen a rise in successful video game adaptations. From movies such as Sonic the Hedgehog getting good reviews and doing good at the box office to shows such as The Last of Us becoming game changers, video game adaptations have come a long way. Recently, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has dominated the box office and won a ton of fans despite the mixed reviews from critics. This success creates some questions. What’s next for Nintendo? What is the next franchise to get a movie or show? How should it be handled? For Nintendo, the next franchise they should adapt to a movie or show should be The Legend of Zelda.


The Legend of Zelda game series is the next big game franchise for Nintendo after Mario, being around for nearly forty years. The series’ protagonist is Link, who protects Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf. Link gets help from Princess Zelda, who Link saves as well. Some games give Link an ally throughout his journey, such as Midna in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Sometimes Link saves other places and faces other antagonists. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask, Link saves the world of Termina from the Skull Kid, who is wearing Majoras Mask and is about to drop a moon on the land.


Unlike Mario, The Legend of Zelda games, for the most part, have always been more story driven. Many stories could be adapted into a movie or a series. Some stories revolve around certain items and themes. For example, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker centers around Link using the Wind Waker to change the direction of the wind and other things. While a story for a Legend of Zelda movie or show could be easier to put together than a Mario film, it’s also riskier. How should you approach it?


The first big decision is whether Zelda should be a show or a movie. These games are longer than Mario games and have a lot of side quests. A television or streaming series seems to make the most sense if you want to be accurate. Each season could be based off a certain game from the timeline. For example, they could start with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, then do a season or series on its sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask.


A movie based on certain Zelda games could likely be split into two parts, even if they do not include any side quests from the games. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time would probably split into two parts. The first part should cover the beginning of the game to when Link pulls the Master Sword out of the Temple of Time. Part two should cover Link in the future discovering the sages in the temples and defeating Ganondorf.


Another decision with a movie is whether they should create an original Zelda story with references and influence from other games, just like The Super Mario Bros. Movie did. Most Zelda games are known for having specific themes or items in their title. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time focuses on the title item Link uses in that game. You do not want confusion in a Zelda movie by having multiple plots and items connected to those plots combined. Another thing to avoid is the same timeline confusion the games have. Going with an original story could avoid the timeline issues for the movies.


The big question for any movie or show based on The Legend of Zelda is how should you approach Link? Most games give Link a different backstory. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link starts believing he is a member of the Kokiri, but turns out to be a Hylian raised by the Great Deku Tree. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link is a boy born and raised on Outset Island that travels the Great Sea to rescue his sister from Ganondorf. What motivation do you give Link to start his journey?


Another question with Link is do you give Link a speaking role? Link never talks in the games. Even when the game has voice actors, Link never speaks. At most, the player will pick the answer Link gives characters that ask him questions. The controversy with The Super Mario Bros. Movie was when they cast Chris Pratt to play Mario. Giving Link a voice actor, in general, could cause division in The Legend of Zelda fandom.


Two other key characters that will need to appear are Princess Zelda and Ganondorf. The games have different versions of these characters to draw inspiration from. I can see a Zelda film handling Princess Zelda's character like how Princess Peach was in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While most games have Link saving Zelda, they also have her assisting Link in defeating Ganondorf. Ganondorf, on the other hand, needs to be a more serious villain than Bowser. While Ganondorf needs to appear, he doesn't need to be the villain in every Zelda film. The franchise has villains such as Vaati, Majoras Mask, Zant, and others if they want to change things for any sequels.


Unlike The Super Mario Bros. Movie, a Zelda movie should not be produced by Illumination. While most Zelda games are rated E for everyone, most of them are darker and more serious than Mario games. A better choice for a Zelda game would be Dreamworks Animation. Dreamworks Animation has shown with films such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda that they can make solid animated films for all ages. These films handled action, fantasy, and dark themes while entertaining kids.


Overall, the next franchise Nintendo should consider adapting is The Legend of Zelda. There are many stories they can adapt or take inspiration from. I think they get more out of a show, but can still do a lot with a series of movies.


Should The Legend of Zelda be adapted into a movie or show? What games would you like to see in a movie or show? Let us know in the comments below.

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