I’ve been reading Console Wars lately, a great book about the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega in the early 90’s, and just gotten around to a particularly interesting chapter: The chapter about the Super Mario Bros. Movie. If you’ve ever seen the movie, then you know that it’s not very good. In fact, it stinks. Personally, I think that it’s one of those so-bad-its-good kinda movies, but if you’d never played a Mario game prior to seeing it in 1993, I’d have to imagine the only thought running through your head would be “what the f*ck is this??

The chapter goes on to describe just what a debacle from start to finish that movie was. From the very beginning when Nintendo sold the film rights, they weren’t sure of what kind of movie they wanted to make. Would it be a easygoing family film, like The Flintstones? Would it be a futuristic fantasy film, like Terminator 2? With the writers clashing with the directors, key personal being replaced frequently, an inflating production schedule and budget, it’s no wonder that the two stars of the film, Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, got hammered and crashed a car by the set (I’m not making that up unfortunately). For more great reading on what a schmauz this movie was, go here, but needless to say, the experience is why Nintendo has been so hesitant to get back into the movie business.

So I’m reading this chapter and naturally the Zelda fan inside me is saying ‘Okay, so Mario Bros. sucked. How could someone make a great Legend of Zelda movie?‘ Well, everyone, that’s what we’re here to attempt to find out!

Before we dive in and try to get an answer, I’ll throw out that I’m somewhat of a film buff. Not a crazy one, but I see my fair share of movies and shows a year, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what makes a film work. Additionally, we all know that the better caliber of actors, directors, etc. you have, the better your film is probably going to be, so I won’t spend time just spitballing names I would want to see attached to a Zelda project. Instead, we’re gonna dive right into the meat and potatoes of what a film project starring Link might look like, and what the biggest issues they’d need to nail would be.

The single most important thing to making a Zelda movie would be finding Links voice. By that, I mean, what does Link sound like? What does Link say? Does he have any catchphrases? How would Link react to things? What are some of his quirks? How does he act in general? You get the idea.

I know that since Link has never spoken in the games, some fans want to see that translated over to the big screen, but there is just no way you could make a movie like this with a silent protagonist. The movie would need a bankable star playing a well developed character. Perhaps Link wouldn’t exactly have to be a motor mouth, but he’s gonna need to talk. Now, the only previous voicing of the Hero we’ve heard has been his infamous cartoon iteration (“excuuuuse me“), which, while funny, ain’t gonna cut it for the big screen.

So who do we model his character, speech, and mannerisms after? Well, if I had my way, I’d peg Link as being somewhere in between Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings and Captain America from the MCU. Give Link some of Caps badassery and ‘never say quit’ attitude and mix it with Sam’s devotion to his friends and contagious likeability, and I think you’ve got a good foundation for how viewers should expect Link to act.

The second key ingredient for success would be to have an original story. I want to see a live action Majora’s Mask movie as much as the next guy, but a straight up adaptation of any game and its story to the big screen wouldn’t work. There’s just too much in a game to fit in a two hour movie without losing all the integral parts of what made the story great in the first place. Instead, Nintendo would be wise to have a long look at how Marvel and DC have transitioned their heroes from the pages of comics to the big screens.

While there are definitely certain elements of particular stories in most of their movies, the writers of these comic movies usually strip those stories to their essence in order to make them work for the big screen. Take The Dark Knight Rises for example. It’s loosely based on a few Batman comics, one of them being a run called Knightfall. Knightfall is a big, three novel epic, so adapting that onto the screen would have been overkill. Instead, the filmmakers took the essence of the story, Batman meeting a foe he couldn’t physically beat and the road to redemption following his defeat, and made it work within the context of the cinematic universe. The same would need to apply to Zelda.

The third key cog in this puzzle would be to skip the dungeons completely, as much as it pains me to say. Show a montage of them at best. Unless we’re talking about a Zelda TV show or miniseries (which is an attractive suggestion, but that’s a whole other article), Link traveling to different dungeons would eat up too much of the screen time.

The last thing that would need to happen in order to make this a success is it would have to be a labor of love. A big part of why the Super Mario Bros. Movie sucked so much is because it was green lit by executives looking to cash in on a hot commodity rather than fans making this project that understood the intricacies of the world they were creating. I realize the goal of every movie is to make money, but let’s take a look at Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy for inspiration here.

Jackson was a huge, lifelong fan of LOTR and fought to get his vision on the screen. He then surrounded himself with other, like minded individuals who were passionate about Middle Earth (he brought in famous LOTR historians, artists, language experts, you name it) and his passion bled on the screen. You could tell everyone involved wanted to do justice to the source material. In a world of by-the-numbers superhero movies and endless remakes, that’s the kind of passion that would be essential to making a Legend of Zelda movie stand out from the pack. Ironically, Nintendo could learn a thing or two from the numerous fan-made projects they’ve shut down.

So there you have it. My thoughts on what would be the right ingredients to make a delicious Zelda movie, but what do you guys think? Would you ever even want to see such a movie made? What do you think Link should sound like? Who plays who? Let’s start brainstorming in the comments below!

Andy Spiteri is an Senior Editor for Zelda Informer. For more Zelda shenanigans, obscure movie references, and bad Fight Club quotes, follow him on Twitter. Make sure to follow his gaming blog, The Alchemists Lab, for more video game shenan- insight.

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  • Sir Linebeck

    eh, it would be hard.
    someone already tried to make a zelda movie ( it was decent, in my opinion, for a fan project.) but it got shot down by nintendo over copyright before release. (but they were nice enough to let them air for, maybe, three weeks?[for the hundreds of hours they put in])

    so step 1:
    get nintendo’s approval and a proper budget.

    lol, there’s no point in starting something that will get shot down over copyright laws.

    also, it doesn’t have to be live action. Maybe if it would help they minuscule budget from a hesitant company, they could get a band of animators and make a decent 3d movie. (i mean decent, at least.[gawd there is some horrible animations on the internet from noob animators])

    but that would probably extend the time til release, so the work hours would be unconventional for the budget.

    now, when the popularity over the franchise is climbing, duo to the release of BOTW, it would be a good way to draw in more people into the franchise through other means of media, such as movies or books.

    but they would have to be good. Especially a movie. It would be nice if they made a new plot line entirely for it. Or made a twist to an existing story.
    Hell, maybe even a movie based on a war in hyrule, and the many conflicts that erupt around the protagonist. (but the number of actors for an army would make the labor costs astronomical, i imagine.)

  • Dylan

    your gonna have to pitch it to Nintendo and I would honestly take the samurai Jack approach where Link talks, not a lot but enough where its a more balance, finding an actor who could also work as well.

  • richa

    First of all they need to base it off a existing story. No original stories. (Unless Aonuma has a great conecting story or anything.) And no compleatly torn apart and glued back together shit.

    For a life action movie its very important to nail the characters.
    No girls playing Link, no black zelda’s none of that shit.
    For 3d animation its best to do it like they did with Tintin. It had actors but then they turned it into 3d animations that look realistic. Except for the proportions.
    2d might not be a good option because you then limit the audience. (Unless anime series.)

    For the story its best to pick ocarina of time, because its the best game to start with, has the basis of the most stories after and its very neutral.
    For the story progress they should take a look at the manga. Finding a way between the game and the comic.

    Finally, Link must talk. He spoke in the manga and it added more depth and fun to the character. Great he’s silent in the games but in a movie he needs to talk.

    He can have a funny conversation with Navi trying to explain him the marriage deal he just made, with the spiritual stone after he saved Ruto

    Or the Gerudo trying to seduce Link a bit and see him embarrassed.
    There is enough potential.

    • Christian Beach

      The article literally said it shouldn’t be based on an existing story. Nobody wants to see a movie based on a Zelda game they’ve already played.

      • richa

        Oh that’s why the zelda manga sucks.
        And nobody watches anime, there is a manga.

        • Dylan

          I get the feeling you hate Disney movies form the 90s.

          • richa

            Hated the singing loved the rest. Why?

          • Dylan

            just form your comment it comes of like all 2D movies are pieces of crap that must be burned to a crisp. I think a 2D Zelda animated movie could very well work. especially with the right people doing it.

          • richa

            Nah, there are a lot of people that wont watch it because its 2d animation. I dont mind what it is, just think its less of a smart move :3

          • Dylan

            I disagree.

          • richa

            Do you think game of thrones would had more or less watchers if it was a 2d animation series?

          • Dylan

            no. I think it could of had the same amount.

        • William Roark

          What? The Zelda manga is great!

          • richa

            I was being sarcastic because christan says no one wants to see a movie from an exciting game.
            And the manga turned out awesome so I dont know whats he complaining about.

          • William Roark

            Ah, okay. Never met someone who didn’t like the Zelda Manga.

          • richa

            Loved them, got them all.
            (The ones released in english, still waiting for Twilight Princess part 2 😀 )

        • Dragonmaster 150

          Actually I quite enjoy Watching Anime, as long as it has good story and characters.

          • richa

            Again….I don’t hate cartoons!
            I liked them, I even went to those anime conventions etc.

            My point is that there are a lot of people that wont watch a series just because its animated, and only a few people because its life action.
            Actually I have never heard about someone saying ‘no I won’t watch that if its not animated’.

    • JessterK

      I agree with every word of this.

  • Vados

    Zelda isn’t something that would work as a movie, even if it were made with a unique story. The narrative in a Zelda game usually shines through its bite-sized chumps of character interaction an the exploration of interesting environments. Zelda would be better as a series, than a movie.

    • Andy Spiteri

      Lots of things would probably be better as a series to be honest since you get more time with your characters. I wouldn’t be opposed to that, but I’m betting they’d try a movie first.

      • Daniel Zamudio

        I would like a more artistic approach in which Link has no necessity for voice and more of a visual kinda movie

  • Daniel Zamudio

    I would prefer a stunning beautiful animation movie in the style of Ghibli or so.

    • Andy Spiteri

      I wouldn’t be opposed to that either. It’d be easier to accept Link animated with someone else’s voice than to accept an actor as Link.

      • Dylan

        yeah and besides Pixar can do it as well. they have close ties to ghibli. so a co-production by them would be interesting, however bets are its going to be either set at legendary if detective Andy the talking pikachu works. with universal. that could be something, but if they go with an older/adult Link, this guy would work in my opinion: https://vid.me/cmY7 [actually just hire most of them]

    • AnonymousGX

      I’ve said this before on previous movie talks. Studio Ghibli made Ronja/Ronya the Robber’s Daughter into a CGI Anime with another company.

      If Nintendo had control over the story, models, locations, and game engine (weather, physics, fire animation…), and Ghibli was allowed to control lighting, textures, coloration, and some environment (tree positioning, placing animals…), that may prove to be great.

  • My comment is waiting for moderation, and I’m not sure why. O.o

  • Gabriel Gilliland

    This has been something i’ve thought about for quite a while so I just want to share my two sense on the topic:

    First off, A live action, like many others have said, would be a HORRIBLE idea. For one, the movie would be a CGI nightmare with probably 90% of the film consisting of it. On top of that trying to find an actor that looks like Link isn’t going to be easy. Sure, any shmuck could pop on a wig and call themself Link but consider how beloved a character he is fans are going to be frothing at the mouth over anyone who doesn’t look like they were born for the role. I personally think a 3D animated movie like Pixar or Dreamworks would be the best bet since he is a video game character(with 3D models) and there’d be no sweat over making Link look like Link(or making sure he’s left handed, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who cares about that). Besides, imagine what they would be able to do graphically without the confines of system hardware, it’d look so beautiful and you could see every individual hair of Link’s head ahuegaysuefdgs.

    Secondly, I do think you could make a movie without him uttering a word the entire time and still have him be relatable and go through tons of character development. I mean, look at the games. We all love him and he hasn’t said a word for 30+ years! As long as your write the script in such a way(like they already do) so he never has to respond verbally to anything there’s no problem. Actually, in a animated film called Rise of the Guardians there’s a character that doesn’t speak at all and he gets along just fine. Granted he does communicate through pictures but it’s not too different from Link’s hand gestures, facial expressions, and sounds he makes.

    Thirdly, I do think an original story would do best for a movie rather than a movie adaptation of a game because video games that are turned into movies always suck. I can’t think of one that was good(especially not that new Assassin’s Creed movies, yeesh) so to do that would be dooming it from the start. If they did I think Skyward Sword might work since it had a really heavy story base and maybe people would start appreciating it since the movie wouldn’t require motion controls. Back on topic though, by making an original story they wouldn’t have to worry about cutting stuff out or montaging it but instead focus on creating a rich story that works well on the big screen. Hey, maybe they could even release a game with it as well!

    So to wrap it up, That’s some of my thoughts on what would start the makings of a good Legend of Zelda movie, but of course the final ingredient would be people who are passionate about the project. If Nintendo did decide to sell the rights to have one made I don’t think we’d have to worry about it being a crash grab considering after the Super Mario Movie they haven’t been very eager to sell rights again. A while ago I heard a rumour flying around they they were taking interest in making a completely self funded movie which sounds like a dream come true but there’s been nothing new about it since. Maybe they will say something about a movie sometime soon and freak everyone out(in a good way!) or maybe not, but I would love to see a movie for any Nintendo franchise really. Anyways, if you bothering to read my rant thanks.

  • Christian Beach

    Here’s how I see Zelda being portrayed in film/TV:

    – A Lord of the Rings/Hobbit-style film trilogy
    – A Game of Thrones-style series
    – A Last Airbender/Legend of Korra-style animated series
    – A Clone Wars/Rebels-style animated series

    Any one of those four styles would be perfect for portraying a Zelda adventure in film/TV. It is possible to do, it just needs to be done.

    • Dylan

      and not the @Christain Beach version?

      • Christian Beach

        If I was a director, I’d totally do it my way. 😛

        • Dylan

          I know you would :p

    • Paul Liddle

      You know there is already cartoons of legend of zelda and link talks?

      • Christian Beach

        Yeah, but I was going for something a little less comedic. 😛

    • Dragonmaster 150

      I think a combination between the SW TV series style would be pretty good for a LoZ adaptation, though I would prefer a Avatar TLAB style.

      • Christian Beach

        Yeah I’m torn between those two animation styles as well.

  • Grant Horne

    Not everything needs an adaptation.

  • Alexander Wied

    Well, lets just name the movie “hyrule”. People like Short Dark Names. 😉

    Let’s not make it like Batman or all of this other superhero stuff currently approaching at the theatres – that would be disgusting. It would be the same, as people did with the mario-bros-movie – cramp it out the way it is done today. And to be honest, mario bros wasn’t all bad technically. concerning the way they did batman movies back then it was quite in line, but, of course, still bad. I guess, the same thing would apply today if Zelda would be done like Avengers/Guardians/batman/superman. Even if those movies are currently doing one thing to the spot – fitting the characters to the real-life-persons – thats not transferring to a zelda-movie.

    Lets say, Batman has been around for quite a while. 1940’s or so. Superman, Antman, iron man and so on. Those have been around for so long, so that there is simply enough story told over and over again to put them in a movie. or a series (of movies) by simply reinventing how things were already told. Those Characters have been changed already so often, that nobodys really disturbed by them getting changed again for cinema. They are all so deep in everyones mind, that everyones completely ready to watch the story again, told in a new way. Again, Batmans parents die. Theres a new Joker. Or Superman comes to earth. They are so deep in everyones mind, that they are memes of their own. And thats what makes it possible to take the story known by everbody and tell it in a new way every once in a few years. Same with LOTR. Maybe it was way to early for a Mariobros-Movie…

    So whats they key here is already described in the article – someone has to get to the core of the story of what makes zelda/link/ganon so loveable and original – and then build a story about it – to stay as close as possible, but to tell the story in a new way. right before peter jackson, nobody showed a real picture of sauron for example. This was great, but it was e new element – and it worked.

    Don’t do DragonBall-Z. Dont do Need4Speed. Just get to the core of the game and be not afraid to build a story around that. The Main character is already memorized by many people, thats step one.

    So, about that Live-Action-Movie…thats kinda heavy for something based in a magical world in our times. LOTR had quite it’s share, but was as brief as possible to not overstretch the magic possibilities of gandalf or others. Avengers works fine, as tony stark simply says “well i’m a genius, thats how this works!”
    So, how do you transfer Zelda into Live-Action without much of Magic and levelling up? i guess, this would be one Part, people would miss, but on the other hand it would be quite strange seeing link getting an upgrade for his boomerang…

    Again, story is to be told, and in the end someone has to find out, what this zelda-hullaballoo is all about.
    Don’t kill me, but Lego did the hell of a good job with the last Batman-Movie, storywise. (and in every else aspect as well :-D) Disney is currently doing a really good job at telling new stories with their 2d-movie-musicals. Someone is really right by saying, that you got to see the love put into the movie dripping out of every pore, or its gonna crash…

  • spacefan1993

    My vision for Link personality-wise was more of a cross between Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker, still a little naive about the world, but wants more than his simple life. Nonetheless, he is brave and honorable, and will do anything for those he cares about. And he is not sarcastic or selfish like his cartoon version is.

    • Dylan

      sounds about right.

      • Dragonmaster 150

        I agree

        • Dylan

          right? that’s a good balance for a character along with the samurai jack approach.

        • Dylan

          🙂 yay

  • AnonymousGX

    Either make a film series (don’t try to squish everything into one film), or a 40-minute (with ads, an hour) episodic TV series.

    Allow Link time to explore the world (Avatar the Last Airbender), make each movie/episode feature an area/dungeon with a self-contained scope of problems (Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Trek, Wakfu…), all the while building characterization to a final confrontation (Once Upon a Time, Avatar TLA…).

    Also, Link doesn’t have to talk, but he should at least emotes and use non-worded exclamations. Okay, maybe he can talk a bit. Names, simple responses to questions, shouts of warning, etc. But no sentences longer than “I can’t wait to bomb some Dodongos!” That way, Link is still somewhat his own character, somewhat the player/viewer, and entirely somebody we can project onto.

  • AnonymousGX

    There may not be a Majora’s Mask movie, but somebody is working on a Majora’s Mask Opera.

  • Paul Liddle

    I call bullshit on link speaking! No such thing as can’t… ever heard of comedy? Play around with it like when he is about to speak he gets cut off or people speak for him.

    • Paul Liddle

      Ps you forgot the cartoon series where link talks.

      • Andy Spiteri

        “Now, the only previous voicing of the Hero we’ve heard has been his infamous cartoon iteration”

        • Justice 2 Free

          Beides that though, facial expressions can only say so much. Take for example, what happens when Zelda in an effort to get Link to help her asks for a response from him. He could just nod his head or give a smile, but expressions can’t display heartfelt devotion in a moment like that. Only words can.