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Fischer: Will Zelda film be movie magic or meet a terrible fate?

It’s a secret to everybody

By Travis Fischer,

The actors strike is over and it’s time for Hollywood to get back to work.

The strike ended just in time for Nintendo to make the next big announcement about the video game company’s next foray into the motion picture business.

Hot on the heels of the wildly successful Mario Bros. movie, Nintendo announced a new collaboration with Sony Pictures to create a live-action movie based on the Legend of Zelda franchise.

Fischer: Will Zelda film be movie magic or meet a terrible fate?
Travis Fischer

I have thoughts.

Of course, the natural reaction to this announcement should be excitement. I am a Zelda fan and, when you are a fan of something, you naturally want to see it adapted into other forms. Especially in movie form. It doesn’t matter what the franchise is, the live-action movie adaptation is the ultimate prize for a fandom.

It’s a wish come true for Zelda fans, who have been salivating over the idea since produced a fake movie trailer for April Fools Day back in 2008. On the other hand, you should be careful what you wish for.

Co-producing the Zelda movie is veteran Sony producer Avi Arad, who is probably more responsible for elevating Marvel Comics super-hero adaptations from made-for-TV embarrassments to billion dollar box-office hits than any other human being on the planet. He’s produced some of the most successful and well-received comic book movies ever made, from “Blade” to “X2” to “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

He’s also produced some of the biggest turds to ever hit the big screen, like “Elektra,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” and “Morbius.”

So will Zelda be a wish from a friendly genie or did a monkey’s paw just curl a finger?

Once we get the jokes about automatically casting Tom Holland out of the way, the biggest challenge the Zelda movie faces is who do you get to play Link, the movie’s non-titular main character?

While the casting of Chris Pratt as Mario caused no shortage of gnashing about what the Italian plumber should sound like (and I maintain that Pratt should have gone heavier on that almost imperceptible Brooklyn accent), casting Link comes with a different minefield to navigate.

Meant to serve as a stand-in for the player, Link is one of gaming’s most famous silent protagonists. Even in the modern era where fully voiced dialogue is expected, you don’t hear anything out of Link beyond grunts and yells. Forget about the debate between Italian, Brooklyn, or generic non-descript accents. Giving Link any kind of voice at all is going to be immediately controversial.

To say nothing of giving him anything resembling an actual personality, which hasn’t happened since the ’80s cartoon adapted him as a sarcastic teenager.

On the other hand, one thing the Zelda franchise has going for it is that there is a much lower impetus to stay beholden to the source material.

As a rule, I am not a fan of movie adaptations that wildly deviate from the source material (looking at you, Resident Evil movie series). My philosophy is that I’m going to a movie adaptation of a story I like to see that story, not some wild spin-off loosely related to it.

That said, when it comes to Zelda, re-inventing the setting and characters is already par for the course.

Without getting into the weeds of the convoluted Zelda Timeline, there is no singular “Link” to cast. “Link” is the shared name of more than a half-dozen different characters across the generations that all happen to find themselves thrust on a quest to save Hyrule in whatever form it happens to be in at the time.

A Zelda movie could try to adapt the story of a specific game, but I don’t expect it to and it’s almost certainly a better idea to draw inspiration from games across the series to instead make something original, while still familiar.

I expect Hyrule to be in danger from a magical pig man and I expect Link, a young man with an affinity for green hats and a healthy fear of murder chickens, to embark on a quest to find a magical MacGuffin and save the day. Beyond that the rest of the blanks can be filled in with whatever seems interesting.

That’s essentially how most of the games are plotted. No reason the movie should be different.

Of course, faithful adaptation or not, the movie still has to be good. Nintendo is off to a good start, but can they keep it up? Is this the start of The Golden Age or the Downfall Timeline?

— Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and could actually see Tom Holland in the role.

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