Where Is "The Legend of Zelda" Movie?
Like many who grew up during the 80s and 90s Nintendo era, The Legend of Zelda games had me hooked. Sure, the original 1986 version was pretty simplistic, but by the time 1998’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time rolled around in all of its newfound 3D glory, the game had a huge following. Not only did it mark the first appearance of a Zelda game in 3D, but the game hit all of the right notes everywhere else (yes, that’s a lame pun referring to the genius musical score of the game, as well as its musical title). Ocarina of Time is typically featured at the top of any “greatest Zelda games of all time” or “greatest Nintendo games of all time” list. For the first time, the world of Zelda was completely immersive and you could look into the 3D pixilated eyes of all of your favorite Zelda characters, including Zelda herself. One could really imagine what the world of The Legend of Zelda could be like in a Hollywood movie—awesome. And yet, many years and many 3D Zelda versions have passed, but still no movie.
The Legend of Zelda Series
The basic premise features our hero, Link, fighting the forces of evil (typically in the form of Ganondorf/Ganon) in order to save Zelda and her kingdom from certain doom. Along the way, Link, clothed in a green tunic and wielding a sword and shield, has to solve countless temple puzzles, fight his way past an array of enemies, and search for the various items and people who can help him along the way. The games are classic quest games, with enough action, puzzle solving, and additional side-quests to completely engross its players. The elements are frequently used as themes for temples, dungeons, and magic (Forest Temple, Fire Temple, Water Temple, Ice Arrows, etc.), and the array of other items (transformative masks, Lens of Truth, Mirror Shields, potions) and environments—ranging from deserts to volcanoes to forests to snow-peaked mountains—sweeten the deal. Add time travel, secret caves, mythology, and a host of enemies that would look incredible with today’s computer-generated effects, and again, how is this not a movie?
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The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars come to mind. Both have the classic, mythological setup of the good heroes versus pure evil with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, not to mention the sword-fighting and creature enemies—sounds like The Legend of Zelda would fit right in. Both movie series’, however, were based on more script-friendly stories than an entire video game series, so they more easily translated into feature films.
The Legend of Zelda presents more of a challenge in that how does a script-writer translate a video game into a movie with a theatrical plot (let alone a series of video games). But, you might look at Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, etc. and say, “Hey, those became movies, so why not Zelda?” Well, they weren’t exactly good movies, and so again, how do you do The Legend of Zelda justice on screen enough to satisfy its huge fan base? Should it appeal to younger or older viewers? How would you incorporate the temples into a strong movie plot? Ocarina of Time alone has eight major temples; in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it took an entire movie to feature just one! While that last comment was partly a joke, nonetheless, it would be incredibly tricky, and it’s just a hard sell to movie producers when so many other video game films have bombed. Don't get me started on Super Mario Bros.
Another tricky element, aside from plot, would be the look of the film. Are fans so used to the computer graphics that they would be disappointed in a live-action film? Who could play the perfect Link? Should they just create a completely computerized, yet realistic, movie like they did with Beowulf? I’ve been a fan of The Legend of Zelda since I was a kid, and I don’t even know what I would prefer. Again, there would be a lot of pressure to do the film right, but what would be “right” to the largest number of fans? Could it work with a Lord of the Rings look, combining old, medieval elements with computer-graphics, or would it just turn out like the Star Wars prequels (shudder)? Or, maybe the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland? Tim Burton does The Legend of Zelda—there’s a thought. Something tells me it would most closely resemble Twilight Princess (smile).
I welcome all of your comments, suggestions, and The Legend of Zelda movie ideas below, so please share. One cruel fan compiled his vision of a Zelda movie into a trailer for YouTube as an April Fool’s joke. Disclaimer: this really was made as a joke. If you would like to fantasize about it nonetheless, here it is: