I figured I should do a Zelda post for Zelda Month. Perhaps I should have waited till now for the Majora's Mask post. But this is something I've been thinking about for awhile.
The Black Cauldron (1984/85) was not one of Disney's most successful animated films, but when I watched it for the first time, there were things that had me thinking it could have been an overlooked or indirect influence on the early Zelda games.
First of all it was Disney in general who started the trend of depicting Fairies as little winged Pixies (as opposed to beings more like Greek Nymphs) as we also see them in Zelda. And this was among the Disney films with those kind of Fairies.
But also the main protagonist of the film, besides having a different wardrobe, looks very similar to me to the official artwork of Link from the Zelda II and A Link to The Past days (though his hair is kinda short), before OoT standardized how we're used to him looking now. Likewise with the Princess of the film looking like some of the artwork of Zelda from that same period.
It's villain, the Horned King, looks nothing like Ganon, but I feel he has a similar vibe to pre OoT Ganon.
I suppose this is far from the only likely Disney influence on Zelda. The fairies I already mentioned could come from many Disney films. Link's iconic costume is definitely inspired by Peter Pan, probably specifically the 1950s Disney animated film. Which OoT drew attention to with the clearly Neverland inspired Kokiri.
And The Master Sword certainly has a Sword in The Stone vibe to it. And the Sleeping Zelda in Zelda II is kinda like the original tale of Sleeping Beauty where she was asleep for a Century, which wasn't the case in the Disney film, but the Disney films were likely the first vehicle any of those kinds of fair-tales reached a non Western audience.
And then I could also mention Star Wars. Star Wars wasn't a Disney property back in the 80s when Zelda was born, but it is now and I got Star Wars on the brain lately so I figure I should mention it. But first....
It is clear to me that in the original NES Zelda games Ganon was related to the Moblins the same way Bowser is to the Koopas and King K Rool to the Kremlings, and a lot of video game bosses with their mooks. A Ruler of an evil species that is physically larger then all the other members. It was A Link to The Past that began giving him a more distinct backstory, which OoT codified and now Skyward Sword has made even more complicated. And now the fact that the Moblins are based on the same animal as Ganondorf's beast form seems like a coincidence in current Zelda lore.
The reason for that rant is to provide more context and relevance to my suggestion that possibly the Moblins were inspired by those Hog like guards at Jabba's Palace in Return of The Jedi. Who according to Wookipedia are called Gamorreans.
I also think Leia could have helped inspire the trend of ruling Princesses that exists in video games in general. It's not as common in pre Video Game fantasy works as you might think. It certainly didn't come from Tolkien, his few ruling women were all Queens. She was certainly a direct inspiration for Hilda in Final Fantasy II and Asheila in Final Fantasy XII, which are both very SW inspired games.
And Byrne in Spirit Tracks is definitely the Zelda franchise's Vader Clone.