Netflix and The Legend of Zelda? LTG Weighs In

By the Last Token Gaming Staff

UPDATE: The announcement that Netflix planned to make a Zelda series turned out to be nothing more than a rumor, and was officially denied by Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata. Still, here was our initial reaction to the news, for posterity and any likelihood that we could see filmed adaptations of it or any game in the future.

 

In an announcement that’s caused immeasurable excitement, anxiety, and anticipation for Netflix users to have even less of a life in the near future, it’s been revealed that Netflix is working on an original series based on the Zelda franchise. The anticipation is tremendous, but there’s still so much to sort through. Whether you like the idea or not, you have to admit that the prospect of a live-action Zelda adaptation has piqued your curiosity at one point or another. (Remember back in the day when we all got riled up by that incredible April Fool’s trailer?) We can’t say anything conclusive until we know who’s working on it, what it’ll look like and so on, but for now, here are some of the LTG staff’s reactions to this exhilarating news!

 

Marshall Garvey

Not going to lie…I’m still processing this one. My first reaction was of apprehension. And not because of the fact that Netflix is handling it. Given how much I’m binge-watching House of Cards and Orange is the New Black these days (sure to be followed by marathons of Lilyhammer and Peaky Blinders), my opinion of Netflix’s original series forays is exceedingly high, and all told I trust them to manage a “niche” project like this more than most. I think it’s really more that, when you factor in the roughly three decades of loyalty we have to the Zelda gaming franchise, it’s just overwhelming to envision how it’ll be translated into a filmed series. Who’ll play Link, Zelda and Ganondorf? Which of the franchise’s labyrinthian timelines and plots will be used? Will the special effects be practical, or appalling CGI right out of the Clash of the Titans remakes?

If anything, this is comparable to a key expectation I have for Star Wars: Episode VII. Which is this: Make the series with love and care for what makes this franchise so special. Zelda games have excelled and stayed with generations of players thanks to a multitude of factors. The music, the breathtaking worlds, the terrifying enemies, the endless mythology, the understated and endearing characters…this is a lot to honor for millions of people. I’m not saying if they get one little speck of the Ocarina design wrong it’ll be a disaster, but if it chooses to abandon a lot of core details from the games, it could be a huge disappointment.

Whatever actors, writers, musicians, directors, and other creative talents end up being attached to this project, one thing’s for sure: It should be dedicated in its entirety to Robin Williams, who was such a devoted fan of the franchise he named his own daughter after Princess Zelda. If anything, he would have been first in line to lend a hand in this show’s creation.

And if the series flops? Well, hey, it certainly won’t be the worst thing to ever have the Zelda brand name slapped on it.

 

Sean Willis

Netflix has had a number of good series so far, and they often feel like a good indie series where the writers didn’t have a lot of things in the way to do what they want.

At least they seem able to comfortably make a small season with minimal stress, as I always seem to find something good out of them even in parts I dislike. However, a Zelda series would be the first time they did a fantasy setting. This raises a lot of questions and doubts really.

We could see too much CG, or no CG at all and it’s turned into a simple drama. However, while I fear some of the worst I have faith Netflix will give the production team enough room and I’m sure Nintendo isn’t going to let it go too far from their general ideas. Not too sure what we’d expect in the first place but following the story formula the games do it couldn’t be too bad at all. However, the use of puppetry or CG could make or break some segments as the games often include many different fantasy species and races who Link often interacts with. Even talking to animals in several games. Hard to tell just how dedicated they will be.

Like Marshall said, it wouldn’t be the worst thing with Zelda stamped on it and I tend to agree that it simply just can’t get too far below our expectations. Still, I’m willing to give it a shot and a single season of six or so episodes would do it just wonderfully. Hopefully this will inspire more live action shows based on Nintendo franchises that would benefit from a live action treatment. Like F-Zero and Sakura Samurai, ya I went obscure with that one.

 

Patrick Johnson

Like others said before, I was in great apprehension. However, with that said, when I read that they want to approach it like HBO’s Game of Thrones, my ears perked up instantly because of how amazing every detail of production goes into that show.

The biggest problem I foresee taking this approach is the amount of arguing and fighting that will happen between Netflix and Nintendo over just how “kid appropriate” it has to be. Even though the band wagon increases every year, the majority of Zelda fans are 18 and older, because we all kind of “grew up” with Link and his favorite princess. So the last thing we want to see is a Disney sitcom version of Zelda. I understand Nintendo’s wishes to keep Zelda for all ages, but I think in this case, it will be something that will have to be tossed out the door if it’s going to deliver 100%.

It’s a production that MUST be done at 100% of detail and reality. If it’s a wig, it better look more real than Orlando Bloom’s wig in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. If it’s a sword, it better be real. Or at least real but dull. If it’s a puppet or CG, it better look as real as possible.

There’s a lot of expectations and shoes to fill, but if Netflix stays on par with the project and bringing Hyrule to real life, they will deliver.

 

Terry Randolph

There’s very little to add to this other than the fact that Nintendo and Netflix will be an interesting partnership due to the potential conflicts of how to handle the source material. Truth is that Legend of Zelda has been and can be dark in storytelling while telling it in a way that’s accessible to a wider range of people. There has to be a middle ground they can meet on that allows them to be able to create a series that’s fitting to the tone of Legend of Zelda.

Aside from that, I’m wary of this because I can see this going south. Nintendo is gonna want to protect this like it’s a baby from any harm, and allowing else to touch the series is a huge risk. That, and I’m not sure who they’ll pick that can fit the roles respectively. Netflix has had some great hits (House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development’s fourth season) and in my opinion some misses (Hemlock Grove). Part of me is excited because they’re not making it into a movie but a series, which I think is the only way to tell a Legend of Zelda story.

Overall, as long as Uwe Boll, M. Night Shyamalan or Michael Bay don’t touch it, I’ll handle this better.

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