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‘The Legend of Zelda’ Netflix TV Series; Will This Series Be Good for Nintendo?

( [email protected] ) Feb 10, 2016 07:02 PM EST
In case you haven't heard, there are plans for a new series from Netflix that is based on Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda gaming franchise.  Whether or not these plans end up being a series that you can stream is still up for debate, but the biggest question is how will it be adapted, and will it be good for Nintendo.
The Legend of Zelda: The Series, coming to Netflix! Nerdist/Netflix/Nintendo

In case you haven't heard, there are plans for a new series from Netflix that is based on Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda gaming franchise. Whether or not these plans end up being a series that you can stream is still up for debate, but the biggest question is how will it be adapted, and will it be good for Nintendo. 

According to MovieWeb, Netflix is seeking a writer for The Legend of Zelda, and either Netflix or Nintendo could just kill the series before it even goes into production, which can happen.  In fact, Nintendo has probably felt a lot of pressure to turn The Legend of Zelda, one of its biggest intellectual properties, into a motion picture or some screen adaptation for a long time now.  One of the reasons why they haven't was due to the huge flop of their adaptation of Super Mario Brothers in 1993.  If that film had worked, it has been said that today we would be seeing successful video game movies like we see mega-blockbuster superhero movies. 

Considering that no writer has been chosen, the biggest question is the direction they will choose.  It is possible to take any one of the games and stretch it out into a full season.  There would be a problem with that as audiences aren't interested in just watching someone play a video game, as action and conflict would easily become repetitious, even if the action rose to a big boss battle at the end of each episode. 

If Netflix really wants to make a Game of Thrones for the whole family, based in this world of Hyrule (the fantasy world that is the setting of the Zelda games), then they are going to have to do what made Game of Thrones famous: introduce characters that audiences can relate to.  Link, Princess Zelda, and the recurring villain Ganondorf are very much fairy-tale archetypes, but they could be designed to be more realistic, and given human strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, some of the later games have cutscenes that could be easily adapted shot-for-shot to the screen, as Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, the most recent "Zelda Canon" games made for the Nintendo Wii, develop Link's character and really show what most epics call "the hero's journey".  That is, Link has to grow stronger as a character from his adventures, not just stronger as a warrior. 

The Legend of Zelda also has an interesting mythos that has developed over the years which could be used very well on The Legend of Zelda TV series.  Practically every Zelda game begins with stories of a "hero of legend" who dresses in the green outfit that the main character of the game eventually ends up wearing.  There is an idea of "history repeating itself" or perhaps Link is some kind of reincarnation of this first "hero of legend".  There is great debate amongst The Legend of Zelda fans about the chronological order of the Zelda canon games, and some are convinced that each game exists in its own universe of Hyrule. 

A television show could take advantage of this mythos by having one season based on one particular game, and then having another season take place generations after, where the previous season has become legend.  Or, it could do it backwards, setting one season in a "present-day" Hyrule, and then having a prequel season many generations before. 

In the end, adapting The Legend of Zelda will be like adapting a comic book into a movie.  Writers know they can't take decades worth of story and put it in one film, but they can take the best elements of the comic book series and make it into one film.  The advantage of The Legend of Zelda is there is no shortage of epic elements to take from the games, and since it is a series, it doesn't have time restrictions a movie has. 

In short, there is a lot of be optimistic about as far as The Legend of Zelda series is concerned.  There still is no word on a release date, and hopefully this is not some rumor that went out of control.  Netflix wants to have new content, and a high fantasy series like this based in a decades-only franchise would get even more subscribers.