One of the obvious problems with adapting video games into movies is their massive difference in length. A video game that’s twice as long as the average movie is considered extremely short. While not all of that time is dedicated to developing the narrative, it’s still usually too much for one feature-length chunk. The Legend of Zelda will soon see its live-action debut, but the filmmakers will have to make cuts. While they’ll likely shave down some elements, they’d be handling the franchise wrong if they left out all the unique oddities.

There’s almost too much of The Legend of Zelda to speculate on what the first feature film adaptation could be like. Almost every Zelda game has a radically different tone, art style, cast, and presentation. Nintendo had a similar problem when they sat down to work on The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Zelda represents a much more drastic range of options, but all the games have elements in common. No matter how dark the Zelda franchise gets, there are always a few goofy side characters wandering around.


The Legend of Zelda Movie Can Only Have One Dungeon

The Legend of Zelda games are famous for their dungeons, but multiple dungeons can’t really work in a movie.

The Legend of Zelda Movie Presents Several Challenges

A screenshot of Link holding a glowing Master Sword in a forest in The Legend of Zelda.


Wes Ball


Derek Connolly

Known Producers

Shigeru Miyamoto, Avi Arad

Known Studios

Nintendo, Sony

Everyone knew that The Legend of Zelda would find its way onto the big screen one day. It was a horror story passed around among fans sick of terrible video game movies. People made memes of Tom Holland in a green cap and Idris Elba in a poorly-photoshopped wig. The cultural impact of video game movies changed a few years ago. Sonic the Hedgehog, Detective Pikachu, and even Uncharted changed the genre’s broad reputation. The major turning point was Nintendo’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Nintendo made an absurd amount of money with a decent cinematic adaptation of the beloved franchise. That level of success guarantees a follow-up. The Legend of Zelda has the cultural impact to replicate or possibly exceed Mario‘s success. It also has a level of complexity that good, old-fashioned Mario doesn’t. Will they adapt a specific game or try to capture the series in general? What sort of tone are they going for? How will they handle the visuals? Questions like these have likely kept the Zelda movie in its prolonged development phase for the past several years. Now that it’s in production, they have likely made their choices.

The Legend of Zelda Has Several Weird Characters

Everyone has had the experience of stumbling upon a stranger in a Zelda game. Many of them stand around and hand out advice. Some are too boring to stand out. A few have striking designs that make the player wish they had more to do. However, a special few non-playable characters capture the imagination by being noticeably weird. Tingle is the ideal poster boy. Since his first appearance in Majora’s Mask, Tingle has been one of the strangest people in Nintendo’s catalog. He’s a tiny adult man in a green spandex jumpsuit and a matching pointed cap. He claims to be the reincarnated spirit of a fairy, but he is unmistakably a dude who uses a personal hot-air balloon to survey Hyrule and make his living selling maps. This is a bizarre little guy who deserves the years of attention he’s received. Ditto the emotionally abusive Happy Mask Salesman. The same goes for Beedle, the pathologically unlucky shopkeeper who has to give his customers a map so they can keep track of him. The first NPC in the franchise, the unnamed old man who gives Link his sword, has a bizarre presence. He’s a robed elder hiding in a cave to hand wandering kids a weapon. The modern franchise still has icons like Hestu, the finest musician in Korok Forest, who also needs a stranger to gather the missing beads from his maracas. These icons are critical to this franchise.

The Legend of Zelda Movie Should Go Hard On Secondary Characters


The obvious way to truncate a Legend of Zelda movie would be to focus exclusively on the central characters. Tell a personal, straightforward, and contained story about a courageous hero braving tumultuous conditions to rescue the princess from a powerful villain. That’s probably the simplest way to handle the franchise while still delivering the basic experience. The Legend of Zelda is not only about saving the princess and beating the bad guy. It’s also about traveling across a fantasy world and meeting its people. Some of those people will always be unique. Leaning into the bizarre elements of this otherwise grounded world is a perfect way to immerse fans in the world of Hyrule. Without the experience of exploring the world, they’ll need strong personalities to sell it. Link, Zelda, and even Ganon aren’t known for their strong charisma. That’s where the weirdos come in.

The Zelda movie will face many uphill battles. The choice of what to keep and what to cut will keep some creators up at night. No decision will ever please 100% of the franchise’s massive fan base. However, the decision to ground the franchise in generic fantasy trappings and abandon the weird and wonderful presences that become icons would be a mistake. The Legend of Zelda movie should break new ground in several ways, including finally giving Tingle the big-screen spotlight he’s always deserved.


The Legend of Zelda Movie Has A More Important Character Than Link To Get Right

Link will assuredly be the star of The Legend of Zelda movie, but they need to get this character right to make the film work.


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