It’s no secret that Nintendo fans have wanted a live-action interpretation of the iconic The Legend of Zelda games for years. Despite some video game adaptations turning out less than stellar in theaters (I’m looking at you, Super Mario Bros.), that still hasn’t dashed the hopes of fans who wish to see their favorite Hyrulean hero jump out of the games and into real life. But can a live-action Zelda only work as a movie? With stories that are viewed as epic myths of good vs. evil, such a thing would benefit greatly from having more time devoted to telling a story that a 2 or 3-hour movie wouldn’t be able to accomplish. This is why it would be ideal to have a live-action series online or on television based on The Legend of Zelda series.
With the access to more time beyond the standard theatrical feature, the basis for a Zelda story in live-action can be presented in a grander style and cover more aspects of the series’ lore. Typically, any game in The Legend of Zelda series takes beyond 10 – 20 hours to complete (depending on the player) from start to finish, and often much longer. Many different characters and subplots happen parallel to the main story arc, which not only build up the land of Hyrule, but the mythology within it. Having multiple episodes in a series, which often go beyond the 10 or 12-hour mark, would be ideal in having enough room to include this. Many of the Zelda series’ big events are tied to the mythological beings that appear throughout and impact the story as a whole, so giving enough time to establish their importance and relevance would be key to a successful live-action show.
But what about all the key players in such a series? A Zelda show needs to have all the main characters, such as Link, Zelda, Ganon, and Impa, as these are mainstays of the entire franchise. You can’t have a series called Zelda without Zelda herself being a part of the story after all, that just wouldn’t make sense! Casting the right actors and actresses for the parts is an entirely different discussion, but making them frequent influencers in the story is vastly important. Beyond them, however, what about the rest of the cast who make up the secondary and tertiary characters in a Zelda game? Depending on what kind of story is going to be told, either an adaptation of the classic NES games or sequels like Ocarina of Time, the other characters need to reinforce all of the main players. The Legend of Zelda games are primarily focused on Link, Zelda, and Ganon (or Gannondorf in some cases), but they have an abundance of other characters who often interact with them. Whether it’s giving Link important items or detailing what’s happening in the plot, these characters need to have enough personality to become likeable without overshadowing the main heroes, as they guide Link through the land of Hyrule and the world as we see it.
That being said, the land of Hyrule is itself a character in the games alongside all of heroes and villains in these stories. In live-action, Hyrule needs to be presented in a believable and wide-scoped fashion, not unlike the way Game of Thrones or The Lord of Rings shows us how majestic their environments can be. Shigeru Miyamoto created the Legend of Zelda series with the concept of exploring new places in mind, which comes across very directly in each game by placing you in new environments as you progress. Hyrule is a place filled with wonders, magic, and dangers that Link and his friends constantly face, but it’s still a place that fans want to believe they can be in. The amount of creatures, random towns, and whimsical beings that populate Hyrule should be showcased in some way to reinforce this. Link travels to many different places, where he meets beings like the Zoras, Gorons, Kokiri, and more, which could greatly contribute to the variety of things that could happen or appear within each episode of a series.
But most importantly for a Zelda live-action series, or any series honestly, is how the tone is established from the very start. The Legend of Zelda is a fantasy story with some dark undertones, but should not be interpreted solely as dark and gritty. Just because something is fantasy doesn’t mean it has to be edgy in the same way that Game of Thrones or Peter Jackson’s The Lord of Rings can be. The Zelda games have iconic clashing with evil, scary and heartbreaking moments, but they never truly go off the edge and lose their lighthearted, whimsical nature. Ganon is an evil being that threatens Hyrule, but Link doesn’t automatically have to become a dark avenger who doesn’t trust anyone because of that. As a live-action series, The Legend of Zelda would be a better story told with a tone that mimics the feeling one got from watching classic fantasy epics, such as the original versions of Jason & the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Those stories could get their characters to a dark place without becoming a brooding tale of misery and tragedy. The Legend of Zelda presents Link as the Hero of Time destined to save Hyrule from evil, but he doesn’t have to lose his courage or become hollow just to do so, and neither does the story.
While talk of a live-action Zelda series has perpetuated for many years, it’s still unknown whether something like this would actually happen. Nintendo has always been cautious with their game properties ever since the Super Mario Bros. movie became a complete disaster, so it’s only natural for them to be just as cautious with The Legend of Zelda. But should the gears turn and actions were taken towards making this a reality, a live-action Zelda series would be the best outcome. Many fans of the games want to see their favorite Hero of Time come to life and bring with him the world of Hyrule into reality. We just want it to be as epic and fun to watch as it could possibly be from the start.