The Legend of Zelda would be to choose one hero

  • The Legend of Zelda is a series of videogames that have been around for decades but has never had a live-action adaptation. Is it time?

    Fans of Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series of videogames might remember back in 2008 when videogame and entertainment media news website IGN made a trailer for a live-action Legend of Zelda movie for April Fools' Day that was so convincing that many fans to this day still wish that it was real. Fourteen years later, no Legend of Zelda live-action adaptation is anywhere in sight, and no one, not even Nintendo, appears to be willing to talk about the prospect of one.

    With the upcoming adaptation of Super Mario Bros. on the way, however, a safe bet to make would be that if it is successful, a live-action Legend of Zelda adaptation would not be too far behind, as the series is second only to Mario himself in terms of popular Nintendo franchises. If a live-action movies Zelda movie or series is made, there are many subtle differences between it and traditional fantasy settings that producers will need to keep in mind and get right to be even remotely successful.

    The Legend of Zelda series has been around since 1986, and as a result, old and new fans alike know exactly what they love about the series and, by extension, what to expect from a live-action adaptation. Because of this, perhaps the biggest pitfall any producer or studio can fall into when attempting to make a live-action adaptation would be to treat it like any other typical fantasy setting or to borrow too much from modern fantasy movies or shows.

    In truth, Legend of Zelda is nothing like them, even when compared to other fantasy settings of its time, the original game, as limited as it was on the Nintendo Famicom, built a world that was so wholly unique from other fantasy settings that there truly was nothing else like it. Steps will need to be taken to differentiate it from other fantasy movies or series in today's post-Game of Thrones world in order to make it wholly and truly a Legend of Zelda adaptation.

    Which Hero and Which Princess?

    Much like the Final Fantasy and Dark Souls movies series of videogames, each major entry into the Legend of Zelda series takes place in its own era with its own unique hero, princess, villain, and supporting characters. While all the games in the series are technically in continuity with each other, the official timeline is complicated enough as it is, and making movies or series about generations of heroes that focus on different ones each time has been shown to typically not do well unless they run for a long time.

    As such, the safest approach to take adapting The Legend of Zelda would be to choose one hero, along with his corresponding princess and villain, which would effectively mean choosing only one game in the entire series, and focusing solely on the adventures of that one hero until it has proven to be successful enough that fans demand a sequel. This worked incredibly well with Netflix's animated adaptation of Castlevania, as that show focused almost entirely on the events of 1989's Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. A similar treatment for a Legend of Zelda adaptation would do wonders until it can prove that it can stand on its own.

    Link Should Continue Being Mute

    One of the most defining characteristics of The Legend of Zelda series is that the main protagonist, watching movies who typically goes by Link (unless the player decides to give him a different name), never speaks. Sure he shouts, grunts, and has overly dramatic death cries, but throughout the entire series, he has never once had any words of spoken dialogue. Even in one of the more recent games, 2017's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which (a first for the game franchise) featured fully voiced cutscenes, Link never spoke.

    The reason for Link's lack of a voice, in the beginning at least, was quite simple, at least in terms of videogame design. Link was always meant to be an avatar for the player, and as such, Link's voice and thoughts were meant to be the player's voice and thoughts. The creators wanted the player to imagine that they were Link. This is also why the series protagonist is named “Link,” as he was always meant to be a link between the player's world and the world of the game.

    As time has passed and Link's character has developed more throughout the series, even gaining notable characteristics independent of the player's, he still retains his mute quality. There are many theories among fans as to why this is, but in terms of an adaptation, Link should never, ever speak for it to be accurate. Of course, if the main character of an adaptation never talks, a reason needs to exist for why, and in this regard, the simplest explanation is often the best one. Instead of contriving an in-universe reason, the simplest answer would be that he is unable. This would effectively make Link one of the few heroes in today's media that has an actual disability and, as such, would be able to appeal to a wider range of audiences. A live-action Legend of Zelda adaptation could work very well if done right. The only real hurdle is making sure it is.

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