One of my favorite video game franchises is the Legend of Zelda. This thirty six year old series has had many games starting from the NES days all the way up to the Switch. This includes handheld games like the Minish Cap and Link’s Awakening to the iconic console games like Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild. As well as two Japanese exclusives in the form of two Tingle games. Personally, my favorite is Majora’s Mask with Twilight Princess not too far behind.
Despite it’s popularity, it hasn’t quite reached the same status that Mario and Sonic have had. For better or worse. It did get an animated series in the form of 1989’s Legend of Zelda which loosely followed the events of the first game. Unlike Mario and Sonic, who got several. And when it comes to live action adaptations, Legend of Zelda has not received one. What is has gotten, is a series of manga based on several different games.
That said, of The Legend of Zelda were to get an adaptation, live action or animated, the question becomes: How Does One Go About Adapting Zelda? That’s what I’m here to discuss. I’ll probably turn this into a series, where I discuss how I think it would be best adapted.
Starting with this, I’ll be discussing how I think it should be handled. If it should be a movie, a series, or both. From there, my next post will address how they should go about adapting the games. Starting with Sky
Movies or Shows? Both?
While each game could be their own movie, I do feel like it should be a hybrid of both. The reason I say that is because of how the timeline for the games breaks apart after Ocarina of Time. I feel like it could cause less confusion and viewers could watch each timeline consecutively or simultaneously.
But what is this split timeline, and why does it matter? I hear you asking. To summarize, when the 1998 Nintendo 64 game, Ocarina of Time was released, how it ended caused a sort of ripple effect. While one would think that there would only be one timeline considering Link was sent back in time, as his child self to stop Ganondorf. Thereby canceling out the future timeline he went to. However, it ended up creating three separate timelines. Think of it as multiverses, but in the form of alternate timelines that don’t really interact.
There is the Child Timeline, which covers Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures. This is where the hero success and the future adventures and rebirth of the Hero of Time.
The Adult Timeline, which consists of The Wind Waker, The Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks, covers the future the Hero of Time left behind. In order to prevent that timeline’s Ganondorf from escaping, Hyrule is flooded. These two timelines are the timelines where the Hero of Time is successful in defeating Ganondorf.
The third timeline addresses the notion of the Hero of Time failing. This timeline consists of A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (a.k.a. The Oracle games), A Link Between Worlds, Triforce Heroes, The Legend of Zelda (1986), and Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link.
The only games that do not fit into this timeline are the Hyrule Warrior games, which are spinoffs, and of course, the Smash Bros series, which is a fighting game that crosses over a number of Nintendo’s properties.
As for Breath of the Wild, it’s place in the timeline is meant to be a sort of end of the timeline. Whether or not it’s at the end of one timeline or where all the timelines end, I don’t think it has been confirmed yet.
Circling back to why I think an adaptation of the series should be both movie based and series based is because I feel like it would be a simpler solution. I do feel that due to Ocarina of Time and the branching timelines, it would be better logistically to have a few movies kick it off and have three concurrent series. The series would start off as four movies: Skyward Sword, The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Ocarina of Time, and branch of into three series to cover the three timelines.
Because Ocarina of Time split the timeline into three, I feel like it would get either really confusing or really odd if the studio that picked up Zelda did every game as a movie. For example, if they did one movie from each timeline every year, it might get confusing for the average movie goer, because each release wouldn’t fit in the same timeline until the Child and Adult timeline movies were done, with the Hero falls timeline running longer. Alternatively, viewers might find that it drags on if after each timeline, they jump into the next, until they’re through.
I think three branching televised series could work better. Since each timeline doesn’t intersect, theoretically, the studio could run three separate shows simultaneously. Each series would dedicate a season to a corresponding game. This would give viewers a chance to check series out if they want and each season would give time for them to develop.
For instance, I do not seeing them condensing Twilight Princess into a two hour movie. And with as many games in the Hero is Defeated timeline, which might not require as much playtime or aren’t necessarily long games, they could work well as maybe thirteen episode seasons.
And before you ask, I will discuss a possibility for Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time to be two part movies and an alternative if they went the series route for both.
In conclusion, the Legend of Zelda series is one I think could be adapted under the right circumstances. Whether that be in the form of a series of movies, shows, or a combination of the two, with the right hands, it could be a successful adaptation. But what do you think? Should Legend of Zelda ever be adapted? Do you think it should it be live action or animated? A series of movies or a serialized show?