The small however mighty love for ‘Willow’ that led to a shiny new collection


“Willow,” the 1988 fantasy movie costarring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, tells the story of an aspiring wizard in a magical world who, regardless of his small stature and a treacherous journey, is destined for greatness. The plot is perhaps an allegory for the film itself, in addition to its legacy, since some 35 years later, the comparatively esoteric title is getting a model new life by means of a big-budget fantasy collection premiering this week on Disney+.

It’s a refreshing flip in opposition to current developments {that a} cult basic with out the sizable built-in fanbase of, say, a “Star Wars” or Marvel property would obtain the flowery reboot remedy. However those that have beloved the movie, directed by Ron Howard, are looking forward to its arrival – even when they may not essentially have power in numbers.

Alban Leloup, the administrator for the Willow Wiki web page at Fandom, instructed CNN that “Willow” followers are considerably “hard to pinpoint,” describing them as “small pockets” scattered amongst websites like Tumblr and Fb.

“There hasn’t been, so far, a centralized community,” he mentioned.

In accordance with Fandom neighborhood partnership specialist (and “Willow” fan) Mike Delaney, there may be additionally a good quantity of crossover with “Star Wars” – most definitely as a result of George Lucas offered the concept for the unique movie.

“Willow” loyalists, he mentioned, “look upon ‘Willow’ as a very fun part of the LucasFilm family of films.”

Delaney likened “Willow” to the Jim Henson gem “Labyrinth” and different landmark motion pictures of the interval, saying it “was one of those films in the ’80s that introduced a lot of people to the idea of fantasy films in general and brought them into the mainstream.”

“There’s this great generational aspect to it,” he added. “In the same way that ‘Star Wars’ does, and other films from the ’80s era that have this nostalgic factor to it, people enjoy carrying it with them and passing it down to their own family and their own friends.”

Nonetheless, “Willow” stays a moderately obscure reference subsequent to “Star Wars” and numerous different titles, with Delaney acknowledging that as a single movie, there’s “not a lot to draw from,” pointing to the scant different “Willow” content material that has arisen within the interim – a comic book e-book, a role-playing sport sourcebook and a trilogy of novels written by Chris Claremont (and outlined by Lucas).

A very good indicator of how area of interest “Willow” is, each Leloup and Delaney agree, is observing simply how uncommon it’s to see the movie celebrated at movie or fantasy conventions.

“You could be walking around a convention floor, and in a sea of Harley Quinns, you’ll spot a Willow,” Delaney noticed. “You have that little moment where you’re like, ‘I know who you are. I know that you’re playing as Willow!’ And there’s probably a load of people around who have no idea who they’re dressed as.”

Because the collection was introduced, “there has been a spike” in curiosity, Leloup mentioned, which they’ve seen mirrored of their net site visitors and interactions on their web site.

“There’s always a delicate balance between keeping the old fans in the fold, with familiar respects, familiar themes, familiar feel, but at the same time you’re wishing to attract a whole new group,” Leloup mentioned of the expansion.

The arrival of the brand new 8-episode collection comes with excessive hopes from the small however mighty fanbase.

The pilot of the present was government produced by Howard, together with LucasFilm president and tremendous producer Kathleen Kennedy. Bob Dolman, who wrote the screenplay for the unique movie, additionally acted as supervising producer on the primary episode.

By way of what he’s most enthusiastic about within the new collection, Leloup factors to the lore introduced within the unique film and the place it’d go subsequent.

“There are many sorts of nerds, and I call myself a lore nerd. What I like first and foremost, almost on an equal footing with storytelling, is world-building,” he mentioned. “I am just curious to see where they are going to take this world, and how much world-building they’ll be adding to it.”

Inside that lore is central character Elora Danan within the unique film – a child princess destined to defeat the evil queen Bavmorda and guarded by Willow – and the way she’ll determine within the new collection.

The Elora character, who is simply talked about however not seen within the promotional supplies for the present, is actually credited because the reasoning behind why such a small property from the LucasFilm oeuvre was introduced again within the first place.

“Willow” showrunner and creator Jonathan Kasdan instructed this month, “there are a million unanswered questions from the movie, but for me there’s only one, and it’s the reason we did this show at all: what happened to that baby? I think, more than anything George Lucas has done, ‘Willow’ was the one that said ‘sequel’ to me.”

He later added, “‘Willow’ ended with the most powerful person in the world as an eight-month-old infant, so it felt like there was story left to tell.”

As for that new story, not a lot has been revealed, aside from the truth that it’s set a long time after the occasions of the unique movie, with Willow being known as upon for yet one more perilous quest, this time to rescue the dual brother of Package (Ruby Cruz), after he was kidnapped by mysterious evil forces.

Fandom director of neighborhood activations and “Willow” superfan Brian Linder additionally talked about one other recognizable title within the new solid. “It’ll be interesting to see what Christian Slater’s character is all about.” Slater is credited as a part of the solid of the collection, however no data on his character is offered but.

Authentic star Kilmer, who performed the dashing swordsman Madmartigan within the unique movie, needed to be written out of the collection simply forward of filming because of Covid-19 restrictions, however Delaney level to fan theories that Slater will maybe step in for the character indirectly. Kilmer’s ex-wife Joanne Whalley, who he met on the unique movie, might be again within the collection as warrior Sorsha.

Delaney can be trying ahead to how the crew behind the brand new collection will incorporate extra inclusive casting on this planet of “Willow,” which in 1988 featured a predominantly White solid.

New additions to the collection embrace “Raised By Wolves” and “Solo” star Erin Kellyman, Tony Revolori of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” fame, and Amar Chadha-Patel.

Delaney mentioned nothing will be misplaced from bringing “fresh ideas into a 35-year-old franchise.”

“I think there’s a bit of excitement to see exactly what they can bring to that and to make ‘Willow’ more relevant for the current generation and the current entertainment landscape,” he mentioned.

“Willow” the collection premieres on Wednesday on Disney+.