Given the massive success of the Super Mario Bros. film last year, it only made sense that Nintendo would green-light a The Legend of Zelda movie. What gave me pause, however, was the news of it being a joint Sony production and in live-action. That is an odd and risky take given the previous animated formula that worked for the Super Mario Bros. film.
Why would they depart from the tried-and true method they pioneered with Illumination? Whatever the reason may be, I assume Nintendo knows what they are doing. Regardless, if they want the Zelda film to be successful, and appease the hardcore fanbase, it needs to lock down these three things.
Proper Adaptation of the Source Material
The Legend of Zelda series has a rich lore despite the games being very loosely connected to each other. The movie would need to stay true to the spirit of the games while adapting the story for the big screen. This includes iconic characters, memorable locations, and the essence of the adventures that make the games so beloved. It’s important to balance fan expectations with the need to make the story accessible to a wider audience who may not be familiar with the games.
So don’t go straight for a weird Majora’s Mask adaptation or too goofy with Windwaker. I recommend either Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess or Breath of the Wild for the story-base adaptation. Especially if they insist on making it a live-action film.
Strong Character Development
The film needs to have real character development, especially for Link and Zelda. In the games, Link is often a silent protagonist, which works well for an interactive medium. However, for a movie, his character will need more depth and a strong voice. Link needs character development. I felt Mario was missing that in his own film.
He isn’t all that much different by the end of the film. He undergoes a journey but he doesn’t really evolve as a character, he stays static personality-wise the whole time.Zelda’s character also offers rich potential for development, given her various portrayals throughout the game series as both a wise princess and a capable warrior.
They can do so much more with Princess Zelda than they could ever do with Princess Peach. Princess Zelda has different incarnations in each game so they can really pull from different versions of her to come up with a unique take on the titular character.
The dynamic between Link and Zelda, their backgrounds, motivations, and growth throughout the story would be key to engaging the audience. Ganon needs to be a serious threat as well. Don’t treat him with kid gloves like Bowser, that’s not who Ganon is. He eneds to be ruthless and cunning. Pleae don’t make him a comedic character.
High-Quality Production Values
This includes not only the visual effects and action sequences but also the music score, which is a hallmark of the Zelda series. The movie would need to visually represent the fantastical elements of the Zelda universe in a compelling way but also suit live-action. That means not using the songs “I Need A Hero” or “Take On Me”. Yeah, those songs took me out of the Mario movie a bit.
Additionally, the soundtrack, potentially adapting the iconic themes from the games, would need to be memorable and fitting to the epic nature of the story. If they do it like Mario, with just hints and motifs from the games, I think it can be a great “If you know then you know” moment that doesn’t isolate the casual viewers.
Video game film adaptations have become very successful in recent years (Detective Pikachu, Super Mario Bros, Five Nights At Freddy’s) so it seems like film studios have cracked the code on making them well and financially lucrative. I have confidence that the Zelda movie will do well, but it just does not have the star power (pun intended) that the Super Mario Bros. film does. Don’t expect this movie to make the same amount of money. I would advise Nintendo to not count on the brand name alone to make it a success. Treat this like a serious project and give it your all.
What do you guys think? What does the Zelda film need to be successful? Think my points were wrong? Sound off in the comment section, we love to read your responses. For more of my gaming takes and opinions be sure to check out my work here. For more general geeky coverage check out our main Facebook page and consider subscribing to the GNN Greats fan page where we sometimes inslude your input in our pieces. You can find it here! As always, stay geeky out there!