Despite liking both video games and movies, I'm not always a fan of video game movies. I suppose you can think of them as sweet and savoury – great on their own, but often a nightmare when combined. Sure, every once in a while you get the bacon and syrup of Detective Pikachu, the chicken and waffles of Uncharted, but a lot of the time you're dealing with the whipped cream and lamb steak of Tomb Raider, the chocolate and salmon of Prince of Persia. However, we seem to be on an upward trend, as studios finally figure out the magic formula. That's why my first thought upon seeing the Vanity Fair Oscars Party last week was that they should make a Zelda movie, and that Hunter Schafer should play Zelda.
There are a few layers to this, and the first is that Hunter Schafer just looks a helluva lot like Zelda. I'm always wary of casting based on appearance alone, but the similarities are undeniable. Schafer at the Vanity Fair do, with a long, slim dress, slicked down hair either side of her ears (giving them a pointed, elvish look), and simple make-up with light smoky eyeshadow, could have been in Zelda cosplay if the dress was pink.
It's because of this startlingly Zelda-esque look that the idea of Schafer as Zelda originally came to me, but I dismissed it because, well, there's a lot more to making a movie than having elvish ears at a party. My main concern with the casting-for-appearances trend of fandoms is that it tends to completely ignore talent, but Schafer need not worry in that department. Though we haven't seen her much away from Euphoria (and saw her badly misused in the latter half of season two), it's clear Schafer is a very talented performer, matching and occasionally outshining even Zendaya. It's also worth noting that Schafer is younger than most of her Euphora co-stars, including Zendaya, but also Sydney Sweeney, Maude Apatow, Alex Demie and Jacob Elordi.
Schafer is young, talented, looks the part, and feels on the cusp of a breakthrough – everything is lining up perfectly. The elephant in the room, of course, is that Hunter Schafer is trans. This forms a natural (if, in true Sam Levinson style, slightly melodramatic) part of her arc in Euphoria. It would not need to be in Zelda – in fact I would strongly advise against it. Trans people are more than just being trans, and Schafer would play Zelda as any other young blonde actor would. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if you've been keeping up with the news lately, but trans people aren't exactly popular. People don't like us. And as much as media companies crow about wanting to be inclusive for all, the fact is they care even more about making money, and Zelda is more profitable if she's played by a cisgender star, so perhaps that's Schafer's chances out the window.
Still, I a) prefer to hope and b) never expect any of these speculative articles I write to be a straight Stacey-to-screen pipeline. Otherwise I'd write them even more than I already do. The reason I didn't immediately write this in reaction to Schafer's outfit was not cynicism at the fact she'd never be considered, but because I wasn't sure how suited Zelda, a game where very little happens and you largely make your own way around the world, is suited for a movie. A few versions of the game – Majora's Mask, for example – have a clear beginning to end plot, but mostly it's a very simple story stretched out over fun and open gameplay. Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword, and Link's Adventure are all loosely held together by a plot in the opening hour, closing exchanges, and a lot of running around and hitting things in between.
However, looking at the current state of video game movies, where the spirit and essence is maintained but most of the framework is thrown out of the window (Sonic has never met the Donut Lord in the games), perhaps the time is right for a Zelda movie. A couple of years ago there was talk of Netflix and Zelda teaming up, with an animated movie the most likely outcome, but its been all quiet on the Hyrule front since then. Part of me hopes it has died out completely, setting the stage for a live-action version with Schafer taking her rightful place as Zelda. Just don't let Sam Levinson direct it. If I wanted to see Zelda getting railed I'd go to DeviantArt.
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