I am not a happy Zelda fan right now. Not too long ago, before Nintendo announced that they were releasing a Zelda movie, I discussed all of the things that I would love to see in a potential Zelda film. And do you want to know one of the things that I really wanted to see: An ANIMATED The Legend of Zelda movie.
But, just recently, we got the news that Nintendo is actually making a live-action The Legend of Zelda movie!
Now, I know that this is actually good news to a number of people (with some Zelda fans deciding on whom they would like to star in the movie), but I have five key concerns about this live-action film. And since this is the internet, I’m going to voice them! Hey! Listen!
First Off, How Big Of A Budget Are We Talking About Here?
Now, I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing (especially since Nintendo has been known to pass affordability off to their consumers), but Nintendo is kind of thrifty. While Sony and Microsoft are content with selling their consoles at $500 a pop, Nintendo took the much cheaper route by having the Switch cost a meager (by console standards) $300.
Not too long afterward, they released a non-switchable handheld version called the Switch Lite that only cost $200. Sure, the Switch is definitely a much weaker console than the Xbox Series X or the PlayStation 5, but being the innovators that they are, Nintendo decided to focus more of their energy on the handheld-to-television transferable aspect of the Switch than next-gen graphics.
And while the other companies have decided to bump up most of their games from $60 to $70, Nintendo is still only charging $60 (Well, aside from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and a few other games) for their software.
All of this is to say that Nintendo is being thrifty on purpose. And, it seems the same philosophy is rubbing off on their movie division as well. Because even though The Super Mario Bros. Movie was the most expensive Illumination flick to date at $100 million dollars, that’s still not as expensive as it could have been. Just look at a movie like Elemental, which was a big hit on Disney+, but seemed to have struggled a bit at the box office.
Elemental reportedly cost double what The Super Mario Bros. Movie cost to make. Now, maybe $200 million dollars is a bit high for an animated film, but with Nintendo deciding to go the live-action route with Sony, then they’re definitely going to have to spend a bit more this time around than $100 million if they’re going to reach the grand scale that The Legend of Zelda is known for.
But, will Nintendo splurge? Or, are they going to try to keep it at a moderate budget? I wouldn’t be too concerned about this if it was just animated like The Super Mario Bros. Movie (which I loved, despite what the critics said), but I AM concerned for a live-action The Legend of Zelda movie. I just want it to look as amazing as possible, and I don’t know if Nintendo is willing to pony up that kind of dough, given their history of being a little frugal.
Who The Hell Are They Going To Get To Play Link?
Now, I already linked (pun not intended) above to how Zelda fans are already petitioning for Euphoria star, Hunter Schafer to play Zelda. And she certainly looks the part.
But since I don’t know which Zelda timeline this movie will be taking place in (Which I’ll get into next), I don’t really know what other characters could potentially be in this movie. The only ones I know for certain will be here (It might not even have Ganon/Ganondorf, though it probably will) are Link and Zelda.
Now, while I’m pretty impartial to who they pick as Zelda, I am VERY concerned about who they pick as Link. If the casting is anything like it was for The Super Mario Bros. Movie with Chris Pratt, then I’m almost certain that some big name like Tom Holland will be cast as Link.
And look, I LIKE Tom Holland. I like him a lot. Even though he’s not my favorite Spider-Man (that would be Andrew Garfield), I still really love him as Peter Parker, and I didn’t even mind him as Nathan Drake, either.
Tom Holland has a lot of personality, which is awesome! But Link, as a character, surprisingly doesn’t have much of a personality at all (Not unless we’re counting The Legend of Zelda cartoon or that godawful CD-i games).
Link is mostly a silent protagonist as we’re supposed to put ourselves in his boots. So, while I could definitely see Tom Holland (or anybody, really) VOICING Link in an animated movie, I just think it’s going to be weird to see anybody playing Link in a live-action version.
What Timeline Are They Considering?
Another big question is what timeline are they picking for this movie. Unlike with Mario, where they could really just pick any time in his history since they all kind of blend together, The Legend of Zelda is very different. I mean, this is a series with multiple timelines, and games that correspond to said timelines.
Obviously, I would think that a live-action movie would use the KISS method and keep it simple, stupid, but I don’t know. After seeing all of the deep cuts and references to older games in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, I could genuinely see Nintendo trying to shove as much lore as possible in a movie, which I wouldn’t mind if it was animated. They could easily have a costume here, or a Zora there in the background that fans could point out and be satisfied by.
But with live-action, I feel they have to be a lot more rigid with just how they’re telling their story (It kind of goes back into that budget issue I mentioned earlier). With an animated version, I could definitely see seafaring elements of The Wind Waker, or the darkness of a game like Twilight Princess melded into the same movie.
But with a live-action film, the tone would probably have to be more consistent throughout to save on that CG budget, which just seems extremely limiting to me.
I’m A Bit Nervous About Whom They Picked As The Director
I’ve seen people online upset that Avi Arad is going to be one of the producers behind this film, citing Morbius as a reason to be concerned, but I honestly don’t care. Avi Arad was also the producer for all of the Spider-Man movies, and we all love those, didn’t we? Besides, Shigeru Miyamoto will also be a producer, and much like the Mario movie, I’m sure he’s going to make sure that Sony stays true to the character.
So I’m fine with Avi Arad. But I’m not as thrilled with Wes Ball. I have nothing against Wes Ball as a person, but I’ve seen all three of The Maze Runner movies (I’m not sure why, but I have), and I am not a fan of his work thus far. It would be different if he had more films to his name, but he doesn’t, which is concerning to say the very least.
I know he is directing the upcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, and I suppose I should hold out my ultimate judgment until I see that, but I just wish that maybe somebody with deeper fantasy credentials (I think Joe Johnston or Brad Bird would be perfect) would have been more ideal. But oh well.
I’m Old Enough To Remember The First Live-Action Nintendo Movie
I was there, man. May 28th, 1993, I was in the movie theater watching Super Mario Bros. with my dad. And…I was horrified! What in the world did they do to my beloved plumbers? Back then when I was 10, I thought Super Mario Bros. was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen in my entire life, and I couldn’t believe how far removed it was from the source material.
But thirty years later, I absolutely LOVE Super Mario Bros. I’ve even defended it on this very website. It’s just so weird, and off-beat, and different that I absolutely adore it now. But do you know who isn’t fond of that movie? Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s not that he hates it, but he just didn’t feel like it worked as a movie.
And that’s one of the reasons why 2023’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, probably played it so safe. I definitely wouldn’t call it a risky movie, that’s for sure.
That said, even though I loved 2023’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie the first time that I watched it, I’m already kind of bored with it now. It’s just kind of…plain. After the excitement of seeing some of my favorite Nintendo characters wore off, I’m left with a pretty generic video game movie.
And The Legend of Zelda is anything but generic. So, here’s my concern: given the negative perception the original Super Mario Bros. received, I’m just worried that a live-action version of Zelda will play it safe in order to avoid anything as disastrous (and interesting!) as the first Super Mario Bros. movie. And that’s exactly what I don’t want.
There are few weirder Nintendo franchises than Zelda, and if they are going to go live-action, then I’d really love if they leaned heavily into the weirdness, but I doubt they will. Not when they go with Sony Pictures and hire the director of The Maze Runner trilogy.
But alas. Am I blowing things out of proportion? What are your thoughts? For more news on all things Zelda, be sure to swing by here often!