With the recent success of the Super Mario Bros. Movie, it seems that Nintendo's plans to make more films will be developed further than ever. Considering how many iconic franchises the company has under its belt, fans will have a lot more to look forward to. That being said, movies might not be the best choice when it comes to adapting series that have arguably far richer stories and lore than Super Mario Bros.
Possibly the most likely candidate for the next movie adaptation is The Legend of Zelda. As one of Nintendo's longest-running and most successful franchises, it would make sense that it would be considered for a big-screen adaptation, especially given how well the most recent games have reviewed and sold. While a Legend of Zelda film would probably make quite a lot of money, the franchise would arguably be best served with a full-length anime series adaptation instead.
Why Is a Zelda Film a Bad Idea?
As successful as the Super Mario Bros. Movie was, The Legend of Zelda movie should not be adapted in the same way for a multitude of reasons. Even if a film would be more profitable, The Legend of Zelda just wouldn't work the same way. Compared to Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda has so much more going on when it comes to its story. Each game tells the story of Link's quest to save Hyrule, but while this might sound simple, it rarely is. There are so many twists and turns and epic moments, as well as a lot of character development, that help make each story stand out and become iconic in its own right. In other words, so much happens in each Zelda game that it might be impossible to fit it all into a single film, especially in any satisfying way.
While it's true that games have only gotten longer as the years have gone by, even Ocarina of Time's story, which was released for the Nintendo 64, would probably need multiple movies to effectively cover the whole thing. The fact of the matter is that if Nintendo goes ahead with a movie, some aspect of the story or lore would need to be sacrificed in order to make it work, which wouldn't be necessary if adapted in another way.
The Best Option for Zelda's Story Would Be an Anime Series Adaptation
An anime version of The Legend of Zelda would arguably be the greatest option. This is a format that lends itself significantly better to the franchise's abilities than a film that would most likely employ the same animation technique as the Super Mario Bros. Movie. First and foremost, anime is known for its stories about swords and sword fights. At times, it feels as if the entire medium was built to show swordsmen viscerally colliding with one another. Given that Link is possibly the most recognizable swordsman in video game history, it feels like a major disservice that he doesn't already have an anime.One could only imagine how beautiful it would be to witness Link in an anime sword fight with today's skills, technology, and artists given how fantastic it looked in the Super Smash Bros. teaser from years ago.
The other major factor is that an anime series has far more time to deliver the plot. The Legend of Zelda is a massively story-rich franchise, with each game intertwined in some fashion. An anime series could provide a full-fledged story that not only stands up to the stories in the games in terms of quality and complexity, but could also find a way to explore the links between the titles. The games are fantastic since the voyage and exploration of the world both contribute to the tale. This type of storytelling might easily be lost in film, but it would most certainly be handled far better in a series.
However Nintendo decides to handle this adaptation, it's clear that The Legend of Zelda would benefit from it in some way. Even if the company chooses to make it into a movie rather than a series, fans can only hope that it will be made into an anime film like Suzume or Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, as those films were both highly successful and arguably way nicer to look at than the Super Mario Bros. Movie (and again, the sword fighting would be so much cooler).