The Zelda movie won’t be like Lord of the Rings, but don’t be worried

The Legend of Zelda movie director Wes Ball may be a huge fantasy fan, but don't expect his adaptation to take cues from Lord of the Rings.

Link from The Legend of Zelda standing in front of The Lord of the Rings poster

Director Wes Ball loves The Legend of Zelda, which bodes well for the upcoming movie adaptation of the charming Nintendo games. Familiar with fantasy franchises by way of his time spent making Maze Runner movies, Ball plans to create something epic, although not in the same vein as The Lord of the Rings.

Instead, Ball envisions his Legend of Zelda fantasy movie  as “this awesome fantasy-adventure movie that isn’t like Lord of the Rings, it’s its own thing.” While comparisons to some of the best fantasy movies ever made sound like a thing any filmmaker should want, Ball has other ideas — inspired by legendary animated film director Hayao Miyazaki.

He told Entertainment Weekly: “I’ve always said, I would love to see a live-action Miyazaki. That wonder and whimsy that he brings to things, I would love to see something like that.”

It makes sense Ball would think of Miyazaki’s work in the same realm as a Legend of Zelda movie. The games are known for their quiet nature, magical feel, and warm personalities. Miyazaki’s colorful work, alive with whimsy and charm, fits right in with Ball’s vision of Hyrule on screen.

It was in November 2023 that Nintendo announced their plan to develop a movie based on the Zelda games. The story follows Link, a brave warrior who wields the Master Sword and fights against evil forces alongside Princess Zelda to safeguard their land, Hyrule. Along the way, friends and allies equip Link with the knowledge and tools he needs to fight for good.

Honestly, we wouldn’t have been against Studio Ghibli itself taking a stab at the adaptation. Something about their painterly visuals, sentimentality, and art direction would make Link feel right at home.

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A fan himself, though, Ball says “It’s going to be awesome. My whole life has led up to this moment. I grew up on Zelda and it is the most important property, I think, that’s untapped IP, if you will. So we very much are working hard to do something. We’re not just trying to do it because we can. We want to make something really special.”

He even tweeted about his wish to helm a Zelda movie back in 2010: “Since I could never even hope to have the chance to direct it… the next big mo-cap Avatar-like movie should be… THE LEGEND OF ZELDA,” he wrote.

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“I had forgotten I’d even done it. Someone dug it up [after Ball was announced as the Zelda director] and they put it out there. I was like, oh yeah, cool, that makes sense. James Cameron’s one of the guys I look up to in terms of movies.”

Ball continued, “He’s able to do big, giant spectacle, but he’s still able to ground his stories in a way that is very relatable to broad audiences. Avatar inspired me to ultimately make my little short ‘Ruin’ that got me on to the Fox people, and they gave me the Maze Runner movies. From there it went to Planet of the Apes and ultimately to Zelda.”

For more on Zelda, read why the Zelda movie can succeed if it learns this lesson from John Wick. Or, check out the new movies coming soon or our picks for the best movies of all time.