Willow is one of my all-time favorite fantasy films! Beautifully shot, beautifully directed, breathtakingly scored, and wonderfully acted, it holds up strong even thirty-four years after release. It also remains one of the best fantasy stories to be told.
With the new Willow series coming to Disney+ in November, we sat down to rewatch the original film and relive the magic once again. We were not disappointed! Now, all I can think about is how excited I am to see Warwick Davis don the role again, and so many of the original cast returning as well. Add in a promising cast of new, young performers bringing in new characters, and yes, my hopes are high. Here are my top five things I want to see in the new Willow series:
5. The Nelwyns
In Willow, we got a fun little glimpse of what life was like in a Nelwyn village, not to mention a look at Willow's beautiful family, including his son Ranon and daughter Mims. Wonderfully, we do know Mims will be returning—portrayed by Warwick Davis's real-life daughter, Anabelle!
A series format offers a fantastic opportunity to visit the Nelwyns again and find out more about their families, their social roles, and how Willow's place has evolved since returning from his grand adventures with Elora Danan. It'll be amusing to see what's become of the village's pompous Burglekutt, the warrior Vonkhar, and Willow's good friend Meegosh. Did Willow become apprentice to the High Alwyn, and has he now succeeded the old wizard? Have the relationships between the Nelwyns and other races, like the Daikini, changed? I hope we spend at least one episode catching up with Willow's family and neighbors.
4. Dust of Broken Hearts
The dust of broken hearts—a pocket love-spell carried around by the film's tiniest heroes, Franjean and Rool—was an intriguing magical item. What was its purpose? It adds some interesting comedic elements to the original film and is the catalyst for the main romance between Madmartigan and Sorcha, but why was it brought along in the first place?
Love spells carry some pretty questionable baggage in modern media. In 1988, we didn't question the inherent comedy of characters making fools of themselves while under the effects of one. Today, however, we're quite a bit more conscious of issues of consent and coercion. At least in the original Willow, the complications caused by the dust of broken hearts were more an accident than an intentional choice to rob someone of their free will, and the romance it sparked only proceeded and became serious after the effects of the spell had worn off. It would be interesting to get a little more background into the dust, where it comes from, and the contextual ethics of its use, given a modern perspective.
3. The Magic Acorns I'm not sure if it comes from playing the Willow video game when I was young, but to me, the High Alwyn's magical acorns have always been one of the coolest magical items in a fantasy story. Willow could throw the acorns around like little Druidic ninja stars, and turn his foes to stone. The only problem is, he didn't get enough opportunity to use them! One acorn falls between the cracks of a wooden bridge and turns the bridge to stone; another is flung at High Queen Bavmorda herself, very nearly catching her by surprise and leaving her a stupefied slab of granite!
The new series absolutely cannot forget about the acorns! I want to see them make a reappearance, and I'd love to see some baddies on the wrong end a good throw. Take advantage of some truly creative magical items!
2. Queer Characters
It's always refreshing and exciting to see modern speculative fiction exploring more diversity in character and casting choices, and we're definitely starting to see more queer representation in fantasy. Of course, we can always see more! I'm really, really hoping the new, young characters—one of whom is the daughter of Sorscha!—will explore some of the still-fresh, still-unique territories of queer relationships (romantic or otherwise—it doesn't have to be smoochies!)
Sadly, the #1 thing on my wish list for the new Willow series is the most unlikely, perhaps even impossible.
What would Willow be without Madmartigan, the greatest swordsman who ever lived? A scoundrel with a heart of gold, first introduced hanging in an iron gibbet and quite possibly unstable in a "this guy might eat us and wear our skin" kind of way, he rises to the role of true hero and legitimate badass, leading the army championing the rise of Princess Elora Danan. Almost as integral to the original film as its lead actor, Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer delivered an unforgettable performance.
Unfortunately, due to a long battle with throat cancer, the incomparable Kilmer is unable to reprise the role now. Even a short cameo appearance is unlikely... and honestly, a Madmartigan cameo would simply not be enough. Recasting him is simply unthinkable.
(Okay, I say that now, but I'm not actually closed to the idea of a good, thoughtful recasting. Any role can be recast, the question is always, will it be the right recasting?)
So—heartbreakingly—I must accept that quite possibly my favorite part of the original Willow, besides Willow himself, will not be included in the new series. I'll miss Madmartigan dearly... but it hasn't killed my excitement for the series as a whole. I'll hope they find a way to keep the swordsman's spirit alive regardless of his absence. Beyond that single disappointment, however, I'm thrilled. Bring on the glorious fantasy once again!
Are you excited for the new Willow series? Did I neglect to mention something you're dying to see? Tell me in the comments what you want out of this new adventure!