Around two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Netflix and Nintendo are purportedly working together to develop an original series based on The Legend of Zelda. The source, however, is named only as “a person familiar with the matter,” and neither company has responded to inquiries about the claim.
The “person familiar with the matter” claims this is to be a live-action series, and that Netflix – who’s still looking for writers – is describing the premise as “Game of Thrones for a family audience.”
If these claims are true, and Netflix is in talks with Nintendo to start a series based upon the Zelda franchise, there’s still no guarantee it will ever actually come to fruition. Nintendo is very protective of its properties, having been burned in the past by poor adaptations like the Super Mario Bros. movie and the Legend of Zelda cartoon, so I imagine Netflix would have to really impress Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto (among others) to move forward with this.
If this does end up happening, I have some ideas about how I’d like the series to be developed.
The quality of Netflix’s original programming gives me confidence that a Zelda series would get the treatment it deserves. I just hope it’s not taken in too serious a direction. One of the great things about Zelda is that there’s always a sense of levity, no matter how dark things get.
And that’s why I’d want Netflix to take pointers from Adventure Time, which has an ability to move into fairly serious and dark territory while still maintaining a silly and/or fun attitude. I’m not saying I want the Zelda series to be simply a live-action Adventure Time, but there are some key ideas I’d like to see implemented.
Moving on, I also don’t think Link needs to be the main character. In fact, I don’t think we need to see him with too much regularity. Aside from the fact that you just can’t get around needing Link to say something in a story/character-driven series, I think the narrative would be stronger if we followed a cast of original characters created specifically for this show.
Maybe the main group consists of characters who play supporting roles in Hyrule’s fight against evil. Perhaps they take on quests that help Link and Zelda, but would normally have them doing behind-the-scenes work. You’d get a better sense of the minutia that helps the “war effort.”
I imagine Eiji Aonuma would have an instrumental role in the show’s development, as he’s taken the reins as director and/or producer for every major Zelda title since Majora’s Mask (1998). His input would be invaluable and would serve to ensure the series doesn’t move in the wrong direction.
And one last thought… I wonder if live-action is really the best way to go with this. None of Nintendo’s properties are based in hyper-realistic depictions, and in fact, they tend to strive for unrealistic art styles. I honestly think an animated show might be the better approach. It’s also the safer approach, if that’s anything that matters to you. Oh, and please, Netflix, make this a series based on 44-60-minute episodes, not 22-30.
But whether or not this ever happens, it’s still fun to daydream about it.