How Would a Good Zelda Movie Work?

Former StaffFebruary 13th, 2014 by Former Staff

The Master Sword in the Lost WoodsOnly a few movie adaptations of video games have actually been very successful, but Hyrule seems like the perfect place to explore on the big screen. Nintendo definitely hasn’t proven that their franchises work well as movies, but they haven’t tried developing a full-fledged official movie in over a decade. The only real question is could they make a Zelda movie that isn’t a total disappointment? Could Nintendo make a film that appeals to both film fanatics as well as Zelda fans? Hit the jump to read more!

It’s difficult to think about how a movie like that could even begin. Either Link could wake up and begin his adventure as he does in many of the games or, even better, the character of Link could be explored in a way that’s never been done before. Link’s childhood and family could be introduced to viewers on screen for the first time. A Zelda film would have to characterize Link’s personality and he would have to have (which will probably upset many Zelda fans) at least a few lines of dialogue. The film would progress through Link’s successes and failures, allowing him to adapt and grow in a way that’s a bit more complex than collecting new items to be stronger.

Link’s courage should be a huge focal point moving forward with a Zelda movie. The way that he seems courageous can be done effectively in the way that the role is cast. The actor who plays Link shouldn’t be a brute, threatening man but rather a slender actor who we can believe needs to be courageous and cunning more than just a wall of brute force. Link’s interaction with other characters in the film could add some humor, some drama, and some much needed personality to Link. To feel like a complete character, Link will need to talk constantly and make some friends and enemies along the way. His voice is the most important, so he should be heard often, but not so often that he comes across as wordy. Link doesn’t speak in the video games at all so his character in the film should be reserved but still powerful with his voice.

Princess Zelda needs to have her own story while Link’s traversing dangerous obstacles to give the audience a real connection to her. There needs to be a real immediate danger and sympathy for Zelda to make saving her the number one priority. While Link needs to be relatable, we really need Zelda to be a unique, relatable, and real character. I feel like this is the most difficult but most necessary part to make a Zelda movie feel more like a movie and less like a silly extended live-action cutscene.

GanondorfWhile Ganon would probably be the most obvious fit, any villain from the series could work with the same intensity. Introducing a completely new foe, however, might distance the film too much from the stories and characters already in place. Whoever the villain may be, they’ll definitely need a deep, emotional backstory. The most successful movies show the bad guy’s side of the story and I feel like it would work really well in a Zelda movie to put us inside the villain’s mind and show us why he feels like what he’s doing is for the best. We don’t necessarily need to agree with the choices of villains, but we need to at least understand why they’re thinking what they’re thinking.

New characters will have to be introduced to give the story depth and more opportunities for dialogue between characters. A partner to Link that he meets early on would work very well for dialogue. Epona could also play a huge role in being Link’s companion throughout his adventures, similar to movies like Hidalgo and War Horse. Much of Link’s dialogue could be directed at Epona as he thinks aloud, giving us a look at how Link’s feeling. As for Navi being Link’s companion, there isn’t really a way that she wouldn’t be awkward and obnoxious on screen. A CGI fairy floating around screaming at Link about what to do feels like it only works (just barely) in a video game. Navi isn’t important enough to warrant an awkward floating orb bouncing on screen. A talking fairy that chimes in constantly could really only damage the immersion of the film, since a story like this would require plenty of tension and dramatic moments.

As for the story, it would have to be Link saving Zelda. I can’t really see anything else being done in a Zelda movie. Since that’s the story in just about every game in the series, it would be the best way to introduce Zelda to the big screen. As long as Zelda has plenty of screen time and isn’t just a goal for Link, it could be done well. Link would have to find out things for himself though, instead of getting most of the information fed to him by townspeople or Navi, which would make the movie more exciting. I would love to watch as Link fails miserably and learns from his mistakes, until he finally earns his way to being a hero.

Lake HyliaA live-action film would be the best route to go, as animated cutscenes have already been done in the Zelda series and to make a movie it would have to be different enough to want to see. I’d love to see all aspects of Hyrule displayed, such as the bright fields, the darkness of temples, the bright blue Lake Hylia, and even Goron City. If everything is done simply and not too extravagantly, the movie could look really good. There are already many different designs for all these different settings so just a bit of tweaking and vision could make the backdrop to the story beautiful.

Unsurprisingly, a fairy tale styled movie that falls into the trope of “a hero saves a princess” is tough to pull off in general, but a live-action movie with popular characters will be even more difficult to craft into a great film. I think that people nowadays are smart enough to realize when a film is just trying to cash in on previous successes or if it actually took a lot of hard work to make. As long as the movie is relatable and believable, I think that a good Zelda movie is possible.

What do you think? Is there anything a Zelda movie would have to do to be successful? Should Nintendo even consider making a movie? Leave your comments below!


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  • whosahassa

    On the contrary, Navi is extremely important. Just ask Link. He wouldn’t go searching for her and think of her as a ‘beloved and invaluable friend’ otherwise.
    As for the main point of the article, a Zelda movie would never work. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. No matter what they did, people would be disappointed in it and it would be a flop. Nintendo knows this. Deep down, all of you know it. Let’s just accept it and move on.

  • whosahassa

    Plus, in order to be ‘politically correct’ they’d have to have a girl that could beat Link up, which is not only stupid but unrealistic.

    • Zaptoid

      THANK GOD I’M NOT THE ONLY PERSON WHO THINK AS SUCH!

  • DarkHylianInterloper

    I’ve said it once before, but i’ll say it again.

    An anime adaptation would be a much better suggestion. Make it happen.

    • Squid Franswaa
      • VladNorris

        There are already manga adaptations. Anime normally derivates of manga, and the mangas themselves did decently. I don’t see why it couldn’t work.

        • DarkHylianInterloper

          That’s how I feel.

          Anime (IMO) would be the safer route to take if Zelda were to become a film.

          1: Movies usually take about 2 hours, so a lot can be cut from it. Where as anime usually is about 12-13 episodes long, which is easily 3 hours.
          2: Link would look like Link, not some cross dressing dork. Since Zelda is already Anime-like, it’d feel more appropriate than seeing real life humans portraying the characters.
          3: Each game could be a season, giving us 17 seasons, which could be around 200+ episodes.
          4: Could introduce those who don’t know about Zelda into the series.

  • Ocarina Player

    I think that if they do make a movie it should be an animated one that looks kinda like that fake majoras mask remake trailer. That looked so cool I just hope its not really fake (even though we all know that it sadly is)

  • Zelda

    I think they should have midna instead of navi

  • JSBailey

    I thought of a two movies for Zelda, first being T.P, with Midna and some characters from TP, and OOT, using some settings from the original Zelda. Midna helps Link outside of dungeons, Navi inside dungeons. Link comes across Fi who first attacks Link in a boss battle. In the sequel, Skyward Sword, Link is in Skyloft and has Fi fixed to act like she does in the game. I think it’s better than how I am describing it here.

    • KittehCatten

      dafuq?

  • Zaptoid

    I thought about this previously, and I agree on every point exept the live-action part. As much as I would love to see Link take on a non animated King Dodongo or Volvagia, I think the outfits would just look redicoulous unless it’s animated, preferably the same style as the game it’s based off of. If you saw the IGN movie pitch April Fools thing, Ganondorf looked horrible.

    • Reincarnation_of_Link

      Ehhhhh I’m not so sure. I mean you can’t have that kelly-green that he has in OoT but TP and SS isn’t not so bad. Seriously, just give the set and costume design to Guillermo Del Toro and his crew, I guarantee he’d make it look bitchin’ awesome and utterly terrifying at the same time.

      Come to think of it, if we let Guillermo Del Toro have free rein to design something like Bottom of the Well and skultullas, we’d never sleep at night. Ever. ;_;

  • NightmareXIV

    The LEGO movie has given me faith that movies based off of products such as Video Games, and other things can be good.

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  • Sirwootalot

    It wouldn’t work. At all.

    One of Zelda’s biggest strengths is that Link is a silent protagonist – turning him into a wisecracking generic dudebro hero-kid would ruin not only a movie but the entirety of everything. It’s the exact same reason Half-Life could never work as a movie.

  • Mikeyboss182

    I generally feel it could be done as long as the film-maker has enough passion and understanding of the franchise.

    • Zachary Morris

      I’ll do it.

  • Reincarnation_of_Link

    I would love a Zelda movie, but the cynic in me knows it would probably never work.

    However I don’t know why people would freak out at Link talking. OBVIOUSLY he talks in the game, you just never hear him. What, do you think everyone else is reading his mind or something? He is obviously asking questions, and then when you pick the response he is saying something. What I really liked about Skyward Sword is that they made a greater effort to make Link look like he was engaging the other characters instead of just standing there like a lobotomized mook. He has facial expressions and reacts to what people are saying to him, not to mention when he is giving his long-winded explanation to Groose he is quite obviously gesturing and talking to him, even if you can’t hear what he is saying. Besides, anyone who reads and likes the manga series wouldn’t have a problem with him talking, since he does plenty of that in those stories, and I think it’s done rather well. So no, a talking Link would not ruin it so long as it’s done right and stays true to the character.

    And in this day and age, the writers would have to be very careful how they deal with Zelda. As someone who is super-sensitive to how women are portrayed in movies (sometimes to a fanatical point, I will admit), I am awfully lenient when it comes to video games, particularly LoZ. I have no problem being Link and saving the girl who does jack-all, although I do appreciate it when Zelda gets an active role in the final boss round. However if they’re going to make a movie they are going to have to step away from that, and that’s not just my personal taste, it’s something more and more moviegoers are expecting from film makers. We want women who take charge of their destinies and don’t wait around for some man to do it for them, which Zelda does a distressing amount of in most of the games, now that I think about it. So can we have a “rescue the princess” story while not seeming horrifically sexist and out of touch with current audiences? I think so.

    Zelda has always been a pretty strong character, even though she doesn’t do much she hardly ever goes to pieces. But it’s hard for her to take a more active role in the video games since the player is controlling Link, not her. In a movie they would have a lot more free rein to flesh out Zelda’s character and give her something more to do than just sit there and wait for Link to do all the work so she can seal Ganon away.

  • Whacked88

    Sadly, a Zelda movie(especially a live-action movie) will never be successful, too many different tastes and fans’ opinions, you could never please everybody, not even the majority of Zelda fans.

    We have the Zelda games, a manga(maybe on day an anime), a shitty cartoon(Well, excuuuuuuse me princess!)

    That should be enough, I think.

    • Whacked88

      But, let’s just assume that there is a possibilty that a Zelda movie could be made, let alone be successful.

      What would it beed, who would it need?

      Well, for one it needs a director who, has experience with fantasy movies, maybe Peter Jackson, or Guillermo Del Toro, let’s just go with the latter.

      So ok, we have our director, but what about the actors, Link should be played by someone, who’s not a well-known actor, or has never been heard of before, everybody needs a chance to prove themselves, plus the actor should look similar to Link.

      For the other major and minor characters, I would advise to choose carefully and again not to use famous actors.

      The budget will have to be at least $200- $250 millon, to make the special effects look very good.

      But, there shouln’t be too much CGI, though some things, like monsters and landscapes(e.g. Death Mountain), will just have to be in CGI.

      Though, a movie can never be as interactive as a game, so the makers of the movie would have to find a way to ensure that especially players, and non-players of the Zelda games are immersed in the game, although that’s very hard to pull off, I’m sure.

      It shouldn’t be too long either, not longer than 120 mins. I’d say.

      The movie should be about Ocarina of Time, but slightly deviate from the story of the game, but shouldn’t take too many liberties.

      It should aim for an PG-13 rating, so it could be somewhat violent, but not too brutal, I’m sure even the older players wouldn’t like that, plus it would be unsuitable for the younger audiences, but most importantly, if done right and very well, it could make a shitload of money!

      There’s much more that a successful Zelda movie needs, but the things I mentioned above are among the most important, though Hollywood would probably bastardize, the movie(like they did with Dragonball, those bastards) and it would end up being too much like Lord of the Rings, or Narnia and that I don’t want.

      Amen.

  • Tirnel

    I know people won’t agree with me. but I think square enix could do a great job making it in cg. I loved Final Fantasy: advent children and I know there are many people who don’t, but you can not like it and that’s that. Well, maybe not square enix, but that level of quality. I think to get the best possible version it should be made by the Japanese and imported to the US. after all LoZ is from Japan. They would be the best ones to handle the movie making of their product.

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