The fantasy genre is experiencing a new boom thanks to the success of streaming TV shows such as The Witcher, House of the Dragonand The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Disney+ is officially entering the fray with a new series based on one of Lucasfilm’s previous properties. The new series Willow takes on a new generation of heroes in events that take place after the 1988 film of the same name.
Willow was the idea of George Lucaswho wanted to create another fictional universe after the success of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. He appointed director Ron Howardwho had appeared in his previous film American graffitito bring Willow for life. Although the 1988 film was a modest hit, it did not receive the level of hype and feedback necessary to spawn a sequel. While Willow is sometimes written off as a disappointment, it has inspired a cult fanbase that has rallied for a follow-up ever since.
Disney+ Willow functions return of Warwick Davis as the titular character. Developed by Jonathan Kasdan, Willow also features recurring cast members Joanne Whalley as Sorsha, Kevin Pollak as Rool, and Rick Overton like Franjean. While Willow has an extensive mythology that rivals other fantasy projects, it appears to be more of a family-centric adventure series than more mature shows like Power rings and House of the Dragon.
Where is the original story of ‘Willow’ set?
Willow is set in a high-fantasy medieval universe known as “Mother World”. The world has two large continents that are sparsely populated by smaller kingdoms with representative political leaders. However, the kingdom of Nockmaar is ruled by the evil sorceress Bavmorda (Jean Marsh). Wizards are incredibly rare and must train for years to hone their skills. Bavmorda sends out his daughter Sorsha (Whalley) and the evil general Kael (Pat Roach) to conquer the smaller villagers.
Willow enters the adventure when the infant Elora Danan washes up on the shores of the village of Nelwyn. The baby is predicted to bring Bavmorda’s downfall, and she is desperate to kill anyone who would threaten her rule. Willow is already a father, but reluctantly decides to take the child to safety.
During his quest, he is introduced to the mercenary hero Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), which is actually Han Solo to Willow history. After receiving a wand from Fairy Queen Cherlindrea (Maria Holvöe), Willow discovers the elderly wizard Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes). She teaches him the art of magic when he travels with Madmartigan. Sorsha finally decides to defy her mother as she falls in love with Madmartigan. The heroes all work together to defeat Bavmorda and restore the ancient great kingdom of Tir Asleen.
Willow is gifted with a magical spell book that can be used to train other wizards if he ever sought to become a teacher. Sorsha inherits her mother’s place as ruler and marries Madmartigan. They adopt Elora as their own child and say goodbye to Willow. Willow returns home to his own family, where he is celebrated as a hero.
When does the new Disney+ series take place?
Although it is not entirely clear when the new Willow series takes place, Davis’ horrified attitude suggests that Willow has not embarked on any new adventures after the events of the first film. However, he is visited by Sorsha, who tells him that a new evil force is threatening the Motherworld. Only a great wizard can stand up to this growing threat. Although Kilmer was unable to appear in the series due to his health condition, Kasdan stated that Madmartigan’s fate will have a significant impact on the series. Top Gun: Maverick was able to respectfully incorporate Kilmer’s struggles, so hopefully Willow is able to do the same.
Willow is joined in her new adventure by Sorsha’s daughter Kit (Ruby Cruz)the aspiring knight Jade (Erin Kellyman), the kitchen maid Dove (Ellie Bamber), the thief turned hero Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), and an unidentified character played by Tony Revolori. Considering that Willow is probably the last wizard in Mother World, this band of heroes may have been sent by Sorsha to train in magic. In the trailer, Revolori’s character mentions that he used to pretend to be a wizard as a child, so maybe he is Willow’s new initiate. Christian Slater and Ralph Ineson are also involved in the series, but it is not clear who they are playing.
The series also features the return of Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton as “brownies” Rool and Franjean. These diminutive creatures were essentially R2-D2 and C-3PO Willow, so it’s fun to see them return to provide more comic relief in this new adventure. While it’s not entirely clear who the antagonist is, the trailer features a new helmeted villain and the two-headed dragon from the first film.
What stories exist in the larger ‘Willow’ universe?
Equal Star Wars, Willow has an extended universe that expands to various media. Lucas had outlined an entire universe that was expanded into Wayland Drewits romanization. The novel includes a sequence where Willow crosses paths with a dragon outside Raziel’s home. Although this scene was shot and partially appears on the original DVD release of the film, it was not completed for budgetary reasons. Drew’s novel also describes the aura of mystery surrounding the wizards, Madmartigan’s backstory and the ancient days of Tir Asleen before Bavmorda came to power. These moments are also included in the cartoon adaptation, the Capcom platformer, and the Nintendo RPG.
The Star Wars franchise had been given a new life in the 1990s thanks to the success of the novel Heir to the Empire and the comic series Dark Horse Dark Empire. Lucasfilm decided to expand Willow likewise, and X men writer Chris Claremont wrote Chronicles of the Shadow War, which followed the adventures of a teenage Elora. Although Willow is her true godfather, a mysterious impostor tries to take his place and infect her body with his evil spirit. The three novels Shadow Moon, Shadow Dawn, and Shadow star were published in 1995, 1996 and 2000 respectively.
Based on their similarities, some fans have speculated that Willow takes place in Star Wars universe. Although Willow was briefly referred to as “cannon” on the official Star Wars website, Lucasfilm’s continuity expert Leland Chee confirmed it was an April fool. Dave Filoni has admitted to being a massive fan of the original film, and included several references to it Willow in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
Disney+ Willow premieres on November 30.