Warning: spoilers for the first two episodes of Willow are in play. If you haven’t started the Disney+ series, consider this a fair warning.
Sequels, especially those of the legacy variety, can be a tough proposition. Without the right idea, a creator needs to either find their own way into the property, or look really deep in the source material for an idea just waiting to be fleshed out. In the case of Willow’s Disney+ series, the new entrant into the 2022 TV schedule saw executive producers Jon Kasdan and Michelle Rejwan picking up on one thread that both creatives felt made all the sense in the world for another entry into the franchise.
Speaking with both Kasdan and Rejwan during the Disney+ (opens in new tab) press day for Willow, I wanted to know more about what aspects of the property were being preserved. At the same time, I had to know where they found the best opportunities to move forward into the future. Starting things off with his take on the matter, Jon Kasdan (who also serves as a writer for some of Willow’s first season episode) addressed both sides of the coin, saying,
The story of the young Elora Danan, being the crux of the original film, was the gift that kept on giving when it came time to revive the fantasy. With Queen Bavmorda of Nockmaar wanting to kill the infant before she could grow up to topple her cruel reign, Willow sees Warwick Davis’ titular hero meet up with both Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) and future queen/daughter of Bavmorda Sorsha (Joanne Whalley). Successful in their quest, Elora’s destiny was the path that always felt primed to continue the Willow saga, according to the Disney+ show's executive producer.
Besides bringing Elora Danan back into the fold, her core trio of protectors are obviously important for fans who have waited for decades to see this new adventure. Sadly, Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan had to be written out at the last moment (via Entertainment Weekly) due to COVID-19 protocols making the actor reticent to fly out for Willow’s production. But we do see both Willow and Sorsha return, with both characters occupying positions of authority, as the High Aldwin and Queen of Tir Asleen, respectively.
Unfortunately, these former comrades have been split by a rather huge disagreement in the plot. (Here’s where we’re going to get into spoilers for the first two episodes of Willow. So if you’ve got a Disney+ subscription, and want to get in on all of Willow’s action, you can do so. If you’re a newbie to director Ron Howard’s original movie, that title is also available for you to check out.) Still with me so far? Good, because Jon Kasdan and Michelle Rejwan cash in on the series’ promise rather quickly.
By the end of Episode 1, ”The Gales,” Elora Danan’s identity is revealed to be that of Dove (Ellie Bamber), a lowly kitchen maid who we see fall in love with Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk). With a deeper story explaining why former companions Willow and Sorsha have broken ranks starts to form, Elora’s sensitivity to magic creates a wedge between these former friends. The stakes are higher in the next chapter of Willow, as a new prophecy has some dire and lethal warnings.
If Elora Danan’s return was the match that lit the fuse on the sequel at hand, then the ingredients mentioned above are the gas that turned this latest Disney+ series into an undeniable fire. Building off of that very return would not only find legacy characters returning with their own purposes, but it also gave us the new Willow cast members that fill out the ranks of protecting the future queen in her continuing adventures.
Further explaining just why Willow was such a dream opportunity to revisit and expand this universe, executive producer Michelle Rejwan restated the point of following the natural path. Praising the original for being so open-ended with its resolution, Rejwan also praised co-executive producer Jon Kasdan, saying,
While the adventure of this first season is still unfolding, that hasn’t stopped Jon Kasdan and Michelle Rejwan from contemplating a cinematic sequel to Willow in the future. Just as they looked to past adventures to find the best way into the future, one can only guess what sorts of cliffhangers will be left waiting to be resolved at the end of this initial eight-episode run.
We’ll see what pans out, as we only know so much about Willow at the moment. The original film, and the first two episodes, are currently running on Disney+, with a new chapter debuting every Wednesday.
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