A Zelda movie should be dark fantasy, so I made it happen

As children, we used to indulge in our imaginations and immerse ourselves in the enchanting world of Hyrule. The playground became our playground, where we searched for the spirits of Poes and explored the Lost Woods through the corkscrew slide. We even pretended that the bell signaling the end of recess was the haunting clocktower from Majora’s Mask, provoking a sense of impending doom. We crafted our own intricate storylines, living out a Legend of Zelda movie we had concocted in our minds. Now that I am older and have found myself with ample free time after losing my job a few weeks ago, I saw an opportunity to bring this (dark) fantasy to life. Yes, I created a Legend of Zelda movie of my own.

Since being laid off, I have dedicated my time to piecing together a trailer, opening credits roll, and breakdown video. Furthermore, I have written a 40-page story treatment for a full-length feature film titled “A Link to the Lost Age.” This is not merely fanfiction or an attempt to fulfill my childhood dreams. In fact, it serves as a humble plea. With Nintendo and Universal poised to announce a Zelda film following the success of the billion-dollar Super Mario Bros. Movie, I implore them to create an adaptation that retains the series’ essence and does justice to the iconic Master Sword. In other words, let’s not turn The Legend of Zelda into just another Minions movie!

The catalyst for this project occurred a few months ago when I watched Ridley Scott’s Legend for the first time. My podcast partner and I were brainstorming topics for our show, Eye of the Duck, and I became intrigued by the dark fantasy films of the 1980s. Within five minutes of watching Legend, I knew that this film, along with others of its kind, would become the focus of our podcast and our lives for the foreseeable future.

Released in 1985, Legend is renowned for Tim Curry’s portrayal of the devil, aptly named “Darkness.” The film is a mesmerizing blend of darkness, whimsy, and glittering aesthetics. Its disorienting nature even led critic Gene Siskel to liken it to a haunting nightmare. Although it is highly improbable that Legend directly inspired the Zelda game series, there are undeniable thematic similarities. Both the film and the games explore the coexistence of light and darkness, delving into the vulnerabilities of growing up and navigating a world where neither can exist without the other. Additionally, fairies play a prominent role in both Legend and the Zelda games.

The Zelda series and the dark fantasy movies of the ’80s share a common thread—the willingness to delve into uncomfortable subjects. Throughout the decades, the games have tackled weighty themes such as the loss of innocence in Ocarina of Time and the impending doom in Majora’s Mask. This unique amalgamation of gloomy undertones and boundless fantasy is what strongly connects the Zelda games to Scott’s Legend. This realization compelled me to uncover the possibility of a Zelda movie hidden within the annals of the ’80s.

The movies of that era embody the unrestrained creative energy that flows throughout the Legend of Zelda series. Yes, they feature swords, castles, horses, and formidable monsters. However, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Unencumbered by the constraints of modern cinematic universes, films like Conan the Barbarian, Highlander, and The Neverending Story fearlessly pushed artistic boundaries. These movies benefitted from being released in the aftermath of Star Wars’ success but before the advent of billion-dollar blockbusters like Jurassic Park. Consequently, directors had the resources to create magnificent spectacles while still grappling with the uncharted terrain of mega-budget filmmaking.

Thus, this era gave rise to a plethora of wonderfully eccentric attempts to capture the magic of Star Wars. The Jim Henson Company ventured into uncharted territory with both the dark, muppet-themed The Dark Crystal and the delightfully strange and vaguely sensual Labyrinth. Matthew Robbins created Dragonslayer, a visually breathtaking sword-and-sorcery film featuring an intricately crafted dragon. Later in the decade, cult favorites such as The Neverending Story emerged, serving as portal fantasies that championed the importance of reading, even if it meant facing perilous challenges.

Less-famous gems from this era include The Company of Wolves, a perverted and Freudian reinterpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, and Return to Oz, an unsettling reimagination of The Wizard of Oz. These films add depth to the discussion about darkness in children’s movies. Reflecting upon the words of legendary puppeteer Frank Oz regarding his collaborator Jim Henson, it becomes evident that it is acceptable to frighten children occasionally. Constantly providing them with a sense of security is not necessarily healthy. After immersing myself in the ’80s dark fantasy genre, I concur with Oz’s sentiment: our current fantasy movies are too safe. The likes of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The Rise of Skywalker, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania lack profound life lessons. To quote Darkness from Legend, “What is light without dark?”

My hope is that my Zelda videos pay homage to and celebrate the ’80s dark fantasy movement. Furthermore, I earnestly wish that Nintendo and Universal draw inspiration from this era when they inevitably commence work on another monumental film adaptation. However, just in case they require a pleasant reminder, I have written a dark fantasy Zelda movie of my own! Titled “A Link to the Lost Age,” the story treatment, complete with breathtaking artwork by my talented brother Vince, can be found here. Although the PDF is 40 pages long, the pitch can be summarized in just three words: old man Link. Additionally, I have envisioned a role for an aging Demon King Ganon, and I can only hope that Tim Curry expresses interest in reprising this iconic character.

If you desire to embark on a journey into the ’80s dark fantasy realm, you can digitally rent or purchase Legend on Amazon, Apple TV, or Vudu. Conan the Barbarian is available to stream on Netflix, while Highlander can be streamed on Prime Video or Peacock. Alternatively, you can enjoy it for free with ads on platforms such as Crackle, Freevee, Plex, and The Roku Channel. The Neverending Story can be accessed for free with a library card on Hoopla or digitally rented or purchased on Amazon, Apple TV, or Vudu. The Dark Crystal is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and Vudu. Hulu offers streaming of Labyrinth. To watch Dragonslayer, you can enjoy it for free with ads on Pluto TV or with a library card on Kanopy. Alternatively, it can be digitally rented or purchased on Amazon, Apple TV, and Vudu. The Company of Wolves can be streamed on Shudder and AMC Plus, or enjoyed for free with ads on Kanopy. Return to Oz is available for streaming on Disney Plus.