The Skyward Sword Time Period (The Beginning)
On the surface, setting The Legend of Zelda movie during the Skyward Sword time period seems to be the most logical move. After all, Skyward Sword is, chronologically speaking, the earliest Zelda game. It not only touches upon some of Hyrule’s earliest days (including several characters, locations, and plot points that would later become franchise staples), but it includes the closest thing we’ve gotten to a proper Link and Zelda love story. Historically, studios have not been able to resist shoehorning a love story into their blockbusters.
Then again, “logic” and the Zelda timeline aren’t always on speaking terms. Skyward Sword may be the first game in the Zelda timeline, but in many ways, it’s still built upon the events of the numerous games released before it. Skyward Sword offers one of the best (and most cinematic) stories in the Zelda franchise, but it’s not necessarily the ideal starting point that it may seem to be from the outset. Furthermore, while Skyward Sword‘s reputation has improved in recent years, it’s not exactly the most beloved Zelda title or the game that people popularly think of when they hear “The Legend of Zelda.” As such, a Skyward Sword-set gme may generate more confusion than an adaptation set at the beginning of a franchise timeline should generate.
I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of the Zelda movie going back to the series’ earliest known days, but this feels like a long shot.
The Legend of Zelda Time Period (The Video Game Starting Point)
It’s been 37 years since the release of the original Legend of Zelda, but memories of that game remain strong. It’s not just the title that started it all; it’s a game that the franchise has returned to time and time again in one way or another. The original Legend of Zelda is not only filled with some of the series’ most iconic imagery, characters, and moments, but it offers a fundamentally simple medieval fantasy narrative that is easy to build upon and around. There’s a hero, a villain, a princess, a quest…it’s pretty much foolproof.
On the other hand, it’s been 37 years since the original Legend of Zelda was released. It’s starting to feel like a stretch to say that the original Legend of Zelda is the most fondly remembered Zelda game, even among those who grew up with the title. To put it another way, it would have been kind of odd if the Super Mario Bros. movie only included imagery and characters from the original Super Mario Bros. game. The Legend of Zelda movie is likely aiming for a different tone, but that would still seem like a slight step back. Besides, the original Legend of Zelda is actually set at a strange point in the Zelda timeline that would be awkward to build upon if Nintendo were interested in doing so for a possible movie sequel.
Again, I couldn’t completely rule out the possibility that the Zelda movie will stick closer to the events of the original game, but it feels like the film could jump ahead a bit while still utilizing many of the foundational elements that once defined that title.