Whether or not you’re a gamer, it surely hasn’t escaped your notice that there’s a new Legend of Zelda game hitting shelves (virtual shelves?) today. To describe The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom as long-awaited feels like an understatement; it’s the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which came out back in 2017, and was officially announced in 2019 for a 2022 release, before delays set in, and fans have been counting the days until its eventual release, with some even taking the day off to mark the event. It is, in other words, an event.
Even speaking as a non-gamer, I’ve had multiple conversations with people this week about the game, because the fandom is that excited about its release. (You know who you are.) It makes sense: with the original game having been released back in 1986 — and new games expanding the franchise on an irregular basis ever since; Tears of the Kingdom is the 19th game in the series, not counting titles like Hyrule Warriors or Link’s Crossbow Training — fans have literally grown up with Link, Zelda, and the rest of the cast and the Kingdom of Hyrule their entire lives, especially when you factor in the short-lived animated series based on the games that aired as part of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show in the late ‘80s, or the multiple comic book adaptations and spin-offs of the franchise. (Save yourself some time: ignore the 1990s Valiant comics and go for the manga.)
All of which is a preamble to the obvious question: Where’s the Legend of Zelda movie, already?
Even before the massive success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie — one of just 19 movies to ever make more than $500 million at the U.S. box office, and somewhere north of $1.15 billion in terms of worldwide take — the idea of bringing Legend of Zelda to the big screen seemed like a no-brainer: it’s an internationally recognizable fantasy franchise that combines action and comedy with an easily understandable set-up that, thanks to the fact that it’s run for close to 40 years and multiple game installments, is already primed for as many sequels and spin-offs that the market could bear. Oh, and it has an in-built fanbase that is primed to spend money.
Admittedly, sure, not all of the Zelda fans are going to spend $870,000 on an old game cartridge, but that figure alone should be taken as a sign of strength for the franchise’s fandom. It makes sense: at its core, the Zelda mythology is prime material for adaptation: while the particular versions of the characters and canon differ depending on the game, it’s a very simple set-up: a random, but brave, elf has to rescue the princess of the fantasy realm of Hyrule from a monstrous boor (and part-boar, for that matter) who believes that she’s the key to achieving the magical MacGuffin known as the Triforce. As it happens, he’s right, because Princess Zelda is the reincarnation of one of three goddesses who created the Triforce, and Link the reincarnation of that goddess’s chosen warrior. On a simple, basic, level, that’s such a simple, fun idea to play with… so where are the reports about a Zelda movie being rushed into production, especially in light of the post-Mario momentum?
Is the problem the so-called “video game movie curse”? Surely not; putting aside Super Mario Bros. Movie as an outlier — I’m not entirely sure that it is, but let’s be extremely cynical for a brief second and say that the movie’s mammoth box office down to people being really, really into Chris Pratt’s voice acting for some inexplicable reason — we’re in an era where a third Sonic the Hedgehog movie is in pre-production, just three years after the first hit theaters, and where The Last of Us is arguably the HBO show of the year. (Admittedly, only one of those two things is actually good; sorry, James Marsden fans.)
It’s possible that Nintendo was waiting to see the response to Tears of the Kingdom before green lighting any pre-existing pitch or plans, on the unlikely off-chance that the game bombed either critically or commercially. That’s clearly not about to happen, though, so the question becomes: how quickly can this project movie in order to catch up with demand? After all, none other than Zelda herself is interested in the idea, with voice actor Patricia Summersett telling Popverse that she hopes “to be asked to be involved in any capacity” if it happens.
There’s no way I could even pretend that executives at Universal, Illumination, or Nintendo need my advice when it comes to making money: they’re doing just fine by themselves, even extending the Fast & Furious franchise out by an extra movie, because why not. Some ideas, though, make so much sense that perhaps they need to be said out loud just in case they’ve been overlooked by accident. With that in mind, let’s just make it very, very clear: the world needs a Legend of Zelda movie. And judging by the response to the new game, the world might need it pretty quickly, all things considered.
Beyond talking about the potential of a Zelda movie, there’s a lot to enjoy in Popverse’s interview with Patricia Summersett.