Willow became a cult classic upon its release in 1988, and fans have been waiting decades for more action from the same universe.
Back in 1988 the movie Willow was released and became an instant cult hit, maintaining cult classic status 34 years later. A prisoner tells the story of the evil queen-witch Bavmorda who has imprisoned pregnant women because of an ancient prophecy, and a prisoner gives birth to a child said to put an end to the queen’s reign. A midwife rescues the baby from Bavmorda, who finds safety in the village of Nelwyns, and is adopted by Willow Ufgood. Pursued by dogs unleashed by the queen, Willow must undertake the difficult journey to return the baby to her people and see the prophecy come true. Discussions to continue the film began in 2005, but were only greenlit in 2020. Now the release date is finally here, and Willow is returning to Disney+ on November 30th in the form of a series. But is it a sequel or a reboot, and what is the source material? Read on to find out.
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Is Willow a sequel?
Yes, Willow 2022 is a sequel, despite having the same name as the original 1988 film. It is not a remake, but will see Warwick Davis reprise his titular role as Willow.
The official synopsis for the film reads: “The story began with an aspiring magician from a village in Nelwyn and an infant girl destined to unite the realms, who together helped destroy an evil queen and banish the forces of darkness. Now, in a magical world where brownies, wizards, trolls and other mystical creatures flourish, the adventure continues as an unlikely group of heroes embark on a dangerous quest to places far beyond their home, where they must face their inner demons and come together to save the world.” .
The original film saw Davis in the role of young farmer Willow, on a mission to save a child and overthrow the evil queen Bavmorda. Set years after the film, the new installment introduces some brand new characters alongside returning faces, and a new plotline – this time the heroes band together to rescue a kidnapped prince.
When asked about capturing the essence of the original film and making it accessible to new audiences, showrunner Joanthan Kasdan said ScreenRant (opens in a new tab) “It’s a daily thing you find. And I think as a fan of the movie, it’s not hard for me to lean into the parts of it that I love and want to continue the story and build out the world like George [Lucas] and Ron [Howard] so beautifully designed and rendered.”
What is Willow based on?
After the original Willow movieGeorge Lucas and Chris Claremont teamed up to write three more sequel novels with the title Chronicles of the Shadow War series. However, none of these serve as source material for the 2022 instalment.
In accordance CBR (opens in a new tab)the first novel in the sequel novel series Shadow Moon, so much of the world destroyed in a disaster. The next two installments – Shadow Dawn and Shadow star – put an older Elora in the main role. This worked to distance the novels from Willow the film, which was one of the elements that fans of the film disliked about the novels, in addition to labeling them “confusing” overall.
Sorsha and her children will also return to Willow series, while Elora does not. Therefore, the show is not an adaptation of Chronicles of the Shadow War books, as she served as the main character throughout them. Although he has not commented on the story’s plot, Showrunner Jonathan Kasdan saw the original film in theaters as a child, and recounted YUCK (opens in a new tab) “From the moment it ended, and the credits rolled, I was like, ‘well, there’s going to be more,’ this has always been in the back of my mind.”
Will Val Kilmer be on the new Willow TV show?
No, Val Kilmer will not reprise his role in the new one Willow show, due to logistical problems getting to the set, and existing health issues that could have been exacerbated by filming taking place during the pandemic.
Kilmer appeared in the original film in the role of the disgraced knight, Madmartigan. Although originally slated to appear in the new series, Kilmer was unable to make it Willow set. During a press conference, Jonathan Kasdan addressed how Madmartigan would be part of the series.
He said “We had lots of ideas about ways to pay for it and ways to leave it open. One thing that happened, because Val himself wasn’t able to come out to Wales and work with us, was that we added this the texture of a friend of Madmartigan who could give us some clues as to where he was and deepen the mystery of what happened to him in a way that actually expanded the story we were already telling. It was very satisfying and it gave us an opportunity to add to a whole new element that we didn’t expect to the show”.
When asked if Madmartigan would ever return in physical form in the future, Kasdan replied: “Madmartigan is still out there. I’ve had many conversations with everyone involved and our feeling is that he’s out there to be found, should the day come come. I think both Warwick and I would love to see him pick up that sword again.”
How many episodes will Willow have?
There will be eight episodes Willow in total. The first two will air consecutively on November 30, with the remaining episodes weekly thereafter. The series is exclusive to Disney+.
ONE Disney Plus subscription (opens in a new tab) costs £7.99 per month in the UK, or £79.90 for a year’s access. The majority of Disney Plus content is available with the subscription, although Disney occasionally releases Disney Plus Premier Access titles, which require additional payment. However, such titles are usually added to the catalog a short time later, where they are free to view.
UK subscribers can stream on four screens at the same time, and register up to 10 devices – the service will support 7 profiles. There is no free trial offered with Disney+. When the streaming service launched in 2020, a first-week free trial was offered at the time to celebrate. However, this was discontinued after the first month, and has not been reintroduced.
- Warwick Davis (Harry Potter, Star Wars) as Willow Ufgood
- Christian Slater (Interview with the vampire, Mr. Robot) as Allagash
- Ruby Cruz (Mare of Eastown, Castle Rock) as Kit
- Erin Kellyman (Raised by Wolves, Top Boy) as Jade
- Ellie Bamber (The Trial of Christine Keeler, The Serpent) as Dove
- Tony Revolori (The great Budapest Hotel, Spiderman) as Graydon
- Amar Chadha-Patel (The third day, Aladdin) as Boorman
- Dempsey Bryk (The fighting machine, the silence) as Airk
- Joanne Whalley (Daredevil, Tin Star) as Sorsha
- Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Mia and Me, Game of Thrones)
- Talisa Garcia (Silent witness, doctors) as Graydon’s mother
- Kevin Pollack (Grumpy old men, better things) as Rool
- Rick Overton (Groundhog Day, Mrs. Doubtfire) as Franjean
- Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones, Chernobyl) as Commander Ballantine
- Annabelle Davis (Dumping Ground, Star Wars) as Mims
Warwick Davis spoke about the physical challenges of reprising his role. He said “this time I’m not seventeen anymore. Fifty-two, such rough terrain, mud, very unwieldy dialogue from Mr. Kasdan, all these things were challenging”. He also weighed in on the original ethos of the film, keeping it alive for the series.
He said: “You have it in your mind all the time. It can give you a lot of responsibility and put a lot of weight on it all. But still, the experience was fun, it’s one I look back on with great affection and fondness. What makes projects special is the people, not the material, the character, it’s the people you work with. This amazing ensemble cast we have here, and Jon our writer, the different directors we had throughout the series. And also the creatives at the top of the ladder, namely Kathleen Kennedy and Ron Howard himself too, presiding over everything.”
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