Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant TV Editor
Still part-rumor and part-“basically true,” the news of a live action series for Netflix based on The Legend of Zelda franchise has fans of the series buzzing. Comic book adaptations are at their prime, with the success of Marvel Studios churning out hit after hit each year. With the other medium that’s sometimes overlooked, video games, there have been attempts at film adaptations but nothing truly notable has emerged. This can be worrisome to note since the past efforts have been less than stellar. In regards specifically to Zelda, the chances for a successful adaptation are sadly slimmer than to be desired.
1. Which timeline will they use?
Zelda fans are familiar with the ever changing and sometimes confusing timeline that the series has followed over the years. Thankfully, in recent years Nintendo provided an official timeline for the series so fans could stop speculating how Ocarina of Time relates to Windwaker. When it comes to a TV show, how would they tell a prolonged story within only one timeline? Will they make it meta and pull a Hyrule Warriors form of storytelling where the timelines mix together? It’s not that the concept would be impossible; it’s just difficult enough to need precise story development before shooting even begins. It could be a knock-out hit if done correctly, or it could be miserable.
2. Will Link talk?
The protagonist of the series, Link, has always been the strong, silent and lovable type. Most of the dialogue comes from fellow characters or an accompanying partner (Navi, anyone?), leaving Link as almost a blank canvas for players to put themselves into. That’s been a magical part of the series. Link is completely recognizable, but his personality and inner thoughts have been a mystery. The show may try to give the Link character a real voice and personality. Again, this could be a new approach to the series and almost feel like a new iteration in the series (the timeline where Link talks if you will), but if the writers have the story follow closely to existing games, will Link feel like a foreign presence in a beloved environment for viewers?
3. Will it be like every other fantasy series?
Game of Thrones has been a mega successful crossover hit for years now. The show is important to note here because the speculation has been that The Legend of Zelda series will feel like a more family friendly version of Thrones. The HBO hit is definitely a good template for success, but to put the Zelda series within it seems pandering. Zelda is already completely original and distinctive to fans of the games, so the show should follow its own beat, or at least take the guts of Thrones and not dull down the adult themes. This is the time to stand out and show non-gamers the genius behind this alternative media. The melancholy of Majora’s Mask, for example, should be done justice and not turned into a family friendly version about fun masks.
Despite the possible series having hypothetical issues to address, the news is truly exciting. It’s a positive sign to see that the mega Netflix is even considering adapting a game series. Fans of the series may just be apprehensive after seeing their beloved Silent Hill get twisted into something unrecognizable from its origins. There is still hope that The Legend of Zelda will not follow suit, and who knows, it could be the birth of a new form of storytelling.