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The Zelda movie can succeed if it learns this lesson from John Wick

The new live-action Zelda movie can be great. But, let’s be honest, if Link wants to make it in Hollywood, he needs John Wick’s help first.

Zelda movie: Link and John Wick standing in front of a castle in Hyrule

With the box-office success of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Super Mario Bros movies, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before studios made a play for Hyrule. Well, now it’s official, folks. Videogame movies are Hollywood’s next big craze and Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda is the next franchise to get the big-screen treatment.

But can a live-action Legend of Zelda movie actually be good? The answer is yes: if it takes its cues from Keanu Reeves, that is. When Nintendo announced that it was partnering with Sony for a new Zelda movie in 2023, most of us were over the moon. I mean, the Zelda franchise has an exciting setting, tons of action, a charismatic villain, and a princess too. Sounds like a perfect blueprint for one of the best fantasy movies of all time, doesn’t it?

However, after a few hours of excitement, the internet was flooded with rightfully worried fans. Arguments over potential casting broke out, live-action vs animation debates spread, and generally, most of us began to overcomplicate the very simple problem that this new movie faces: Link.

That’s right, I said it. Tom Holland being the popular fan casting choice or the idea of CGI Octoroks aren’t the issue here. Instead, the main obstacle ahead of the Zelda movie is how it deals with its silent protagonist.

A screenshot of Breathe of the Wild with Link looking at two women

For those of you who may not know, Link is more of a shell than a firm character. He doesn’t interject; he isn’t vocal about his beliefs. He is the purest form of a hero, and by that, we mean that is all he is: a hero trying to save the day. By keeping Link as simple as possible, Nintendo lets players fully immerse themselves in the RPG games time and time again. And this simple approach works. People love Link.

But, let’s be honest when presented with a silent protagonist like our green tunic hero, Hollywood tends to panic and generally doesn’t know what to do. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bad video game movies and TV series out there that have deep-seated issues.

But Tinsel Town has a history of taking silent protagonists (or almost-silent protagonists) in videogame franchises and needlessly creating complex individuals that generally make fans more confused instead of excited. When you look at the choices to have lengthy conversations in the Doom movie or have Master Chief sleeping with a prisoner of war in the Halo series, we have to ask why. Why did you do that?

Link looking shocked in Breath of the Wild

I fully believe that the new Zelda movie can be great. We have the technology to create Hyrule; we have talented stars in the industry to get the job done. But, this film could crash and burn if we force a plot and protagonist that is completely alien to this IP. We don’t need forced personalities or storylines for Link in the new Zelda movie. What we need is the John Wick approach.

Played by Keanu Reeves, John Wick is the most videogamey non-videogame movie in existence. The 2014 flick is basically a third-person shooter coming to life as we follow the quiet assassin on his quest for revenge. Like Link during his adventuring in Hyrule and run-ins with Ganondorf, John Wick is a man of action and few words.

Seriously, we cannot emphasize enough how little John Wick speaks. Sure, he gives us a few one-liners and a couple of grunts, but that’s it. And it works. If Keanu Reeves has already proved to us that a silent protagonist can be done on the big screen and also done so well that it leads to a full-blown action movie franchise, then Hollywood can focus on Link’s true strength – his relentless need to save the day.

Link from The Legend of Zelda up in the air shooting a bow and arrow

I don’t want to see Link’s backstory or a forced persona projected onto him. I want to see Link get out his sword and start swinging, traveling around the world and defeating evil. Studios need to remember that having an epic adventure and then adding needless character interjections just leads to sensory overload when making movies.

The point is to keep grand adventures and hero journeys simple. We can get depth and learn a character’s beliefs through their actions and how they journey through their adventure. We don’t need a complex Link or even a “funny” Link like the best-forgotten ‘80s Zelda TV series tried and failed to do.

So, please learn from John Wick Hollywood. Use that deadly man as a template, and please keep Link quiet. With all our collective gaming hours and money spent on Zelda throughout the years, give us what we deserve instead: a great film.

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For more videogame action, check out our guides on everything we know about the Uncharted 2 release date, the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 release date, and The Last of Us season 2.

We also have lists of the best movies of all time and the best animated movies for you to check out as well. Finally, be sure to head to our sister site, Pocket Tactics, and check out their guides to the best Zelda games and all the Zelda games in order.