If 2013-2014 was the Year of Luigi, then 2014-2015 is definitely the Year of Link. Fresh off of appearances in Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, as well as the best-selling Dynasty Warriors-inspired spin-off Hyrule Warriors, the hero of Nintendo's classic sword-swinging, puzzle-solving adventure series is poised to grace consoles not once but twice in the upcoming year. Not only is the excellent Majora's Mask remake scheduled to hit the 3DS in less than a week, but Nintendo remains adamant that The Legend of Zelda: Wii U will arrive sometime before the end of 2015.
Now, if Netflix has its way, audiences will also be seeing Link, Zelda, and the rest of the gang on their televisions - in live action. Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Netflix and Nintendo are cooperating on a television series based on Nintendo's beloved The Legend of Zelda franchise. That's a stunning announcement, and if the deal works out, it could be the start of a whole new line of Nintendo-related entertainment.
Currently, the proposed series is early in development, and there aren't any writers, directors, or actors attached. The Wall Street Journal article only mentions a very basic plot (Link is a young boy, Zelda is a princess, and Hyrule needs saving), although the newspaper's unnamed source describes the general approach as "Game of Thrones for a family audience." What that means exactly remains to be seen.
Zelda Meets Game of Thrones
Of course, the article is quick to note that the deal could fall apart at any time. Nintendo is famously skittish about letting other companies handle their characters; Hollywood has become a particularly sore point for the company, after 1993's Super Mario Bros. was ridiculed by critics and audiences alike.
However, in the past few years, the Kyoto-based company has started to relax their stranglehold on its popular franchises; the aforementioned Hyrule Warriors was developed by Koei Temco, not Nintendo, for example. This change in attitude is likely due to Nintendo's financial difficulties; a few months ago, President Satoru Iwata admitted as much, teasing that the company is "seeing possibilities in licensing character IP in areas Nintendo has never worked before."
The Legend of Zelda has been adapted to other mediums before, of course. In the mid-90s, the Nintendo-backed Nintendo Power Magazine ran an adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by acclaimed manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori. Other manga series have been published over the years, as well as western comic series produced by Valiant and the noted webcomic Penny Arcade.
Can a Zelda TV Series Work?
For gamers of a certain age, however, the most famous Legend of Zelda adaptation is the 13-episode animated series produced by DIC in the late 1980's. The show only ran for one season, and is most famous for Link's sassy catchphrase, "Well, excuuuuuuse me, Princess!"
With any luck, Netflix can do a little better than that. Recently, the company's made a name for itself producing a slate of high-quality original programming, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. An exclusive deal with Marvel Studios is set to begin next month with the release of Daredevil; other series, including AKA Jessica Jones and Iron Fist will follow. Rest easy, Zelda-fans; at Netflix, the franchise is in good hands.
Source: Wall Street Journal