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Rumor Control: Is Nintendo Planning a ‘Legend of Zelda’ Movie?

Key art from 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' featuring the game's hero, Link

Now that The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out, people are inevitably wondering which Nintendo property will get the film treatment next. Mario has an incredibly entertaining history in TV and film, and as the company’s mascot, he was the obvious first pick. Only one other Nintendo franchise has ever gotten a film or TV adaption: The Legend of Zelda. Yes, there was a Zelda animated series and it was god-awful. But with Tears of the Kingdom on everyone’s mind, fans can’t help but wonder: are Nintendo and Illumination planning a Legend of Zelda film?

Short answer: We don’t know. Long answer: Maybe … ?

Is Nintendo planning a Legend of Zelda movie? Where did this rumor come from?

Early in 2023, rumors started circulating that Nintendo and Illumination did, indeed, have a Zelda film in development. But these rumors are completely unsubstantiated, and their source is unreliable.

A more substantial—if not ridiculously vague—bone to chew on comes from ScreenRant’s interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of both Mario and Zelda, upon the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The interviewer asks The Question: “Are there any other Nintendo properties, like Zelda or Starfox, that you think would make for a good movie or series in conjunction with Illumination?”

Miyamoto replies: “There’s nothing I can really comment on at the moment. But we started with the fact that we have a shared vision of creation, so I think there’ll be opportunities in the future.”

Miyamoto seems to insinuate very heavily that Nintendo and Illumination are working on something—or, at the very least, they have an idea and were waiting to see how The Super Mario Bros. Movie fared at the box office. Now that it made the most money in a single weekend of any animated film, ever—and became the highest-grossing video game film ever within nine days of its release—I’m pretty sure they’ll follow up on that idea.

What next?

So Miyamoto inferred pretty heavily that there’s another film with Illumination somewhere in the pipeline. The question is whether that film would be a Zelda film—or a Donkey Kong film, or a Luigi’s Mansion film, or a Kirby film, or any other number of Nintendo IPs. Hell, if they were to base it on Japanese audiences alone, I’d put my money on a Splatoon movie.

A Donkey Kong film would make a lot of sense because a Donkey Kong area is coming to Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World in 2024. And Universal Studios parks are how the Nintendo and Illumination collaboration came to be in the first place.

Speculation about a “Nintendo Extended Universe” is also at its peak. There’s even speculation this NEU would culminate with a Super Smash Bros. movie. Which, as a Nintendo super fan, I just gotta say: Please, god, no. Do not do this. I’d rather you focus on the individual franchises getting the films they deserve. A movie can just be itself. Thank you.

What would a Zelda film even be like?

The Legend of Zelda has one infamously rough TV adaptation which aired in the ’80s as part of the Super Mario Super Show!. The Zelda series and the live-action Super Mario Bros. film are what made Nintendo swear off of making adaptations of their games for the better part of three decades.

Super Mario Bros. is truly a singular experience to watch, even today (good or bad? you decide!). Zelda is a bit tougher. Link doesn’t just talk; he talks a lot. In fact, he’s an annoying nag. And sexist?! It’s wild. But it did give birth to the single funniest video on the entire internet: A supercut of every time he says his famous catch phrase in 13 episodes of television. (To be fair, they’re only 15 minutes each, but still.)

So, it’s no wonder that this series made Nintendo (and fans) nervous about green-lighting another Zelda TV series or film. With their history as exclusively a studio which makes children’s films—ones that adults enjoy, but definitely children’s films—I have my doubts Illumination is the right choice for a Zelda movie. Zelda skews toward a different, older audience, starting with preteens and teens. It’s also tonally darker than typical Illumination fare.

On the other hand, Nintendo did buy their very own animation studio last year. Who knows what they’ll do with it?

(featured image: NIntendo)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.