The original Willow film feels like the first act of a larger story. While it does end with the defeat of the evil Queen Bavmorda thanks to Willow and his friends, almost every other major character and storyline is left dangling. The whole film is predicated on this small child, Elora Danan, being the chosen one who’ll save the world. But in the end, she’s still a child. Did she ever live up to that potential? Is the prophecy true? And what of the brave protector, Willow Ufgood? Did he become the sorcerer he always dreamed of being?
Those are just two of the many, many stories original creators George Lucas and Ron Howard hoped to expand on after the film’s 1988 release. However, the burgeoning franchise to be never was... until now. This week, fans will finally return to the Willow universe and we asked the people behind the series which of those dangling storylines they were most excited to explore.
“This was really about Elora Danan for us,” showrunner Jon Kasdan told io9. “We felt like that was such a rich story vein... The question of Elora’s fate and how the world would be balanced on her shoulders felt like the promise of more stories to us. And it feels like a promise we’re hoping we’ve only just tickled in this first season and can continue to play out.”
Willow himself, Warwick Davis, agreed. After finishing the first film he always wondered what happened to Elora Danan. “Is she indeed going to grow up and be the one to kind of rule the kingdom and overthrow the queen?” he said. “We never really discover that do we?” Davis was also interested to find out about his character’s fate. “Does he indeed become a sorcerer and can he actually learn to do magic?” Davis asked. Trailers seem to answer that question with a definitive “Yes,” but looks can be deceiving.
Davis told us he’s asked all the time about the potential for more Willow, which is part of why he did the show in the first place. “I always hoped [a Willow sequel] would happen for the fans, not for myself, just because all these people have stuck with the love of Willow for 34 years,” Davis said. “People come up to me on a daily basis, they say, ‘Oh, I grew up watching the movie. I loved it, when are you going to do some more?’ So really, I wanted to do it for them.”
One of those people may have been Amar Chadha-Patel. On the show, he plays a mysterious warrior named Boorman who is imprisoned by Queen Sorsha (Joanne Whalley, reprising her role from the original film). “[Willow] was definitely part of my childhood,” Chadha-Patel told io9. “It was one of those escapist adventures that I just grew up loving, along with Star Wars and Neverending Story and Labyrinth. That was my childhood for sure.” As for what storyline Chadha-Patel wanted to see, he had a different answer than Kasdan and Davis: “I really wanted to see what happened with Sorsha and Madmartigan,” he said.
Ah yes. Let’s not forget those two. At the end of Willow, the heroic Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), who has been fighting by Willow’s side to protect Elora Danon, woos the daughter of the evil Queen away from her mother. That character, Sorsha, falls for Madmartigan, becomes Queen, and basically adopts Elora. Which is where the movie ends. “The film ends in this crazy place where Sorsha’s given up her entire life,” Chadha-Patel said. “She’s changed everything about her and that’s something you don’t see in films that often. She changes her allegiance entirely and it ends kind of happily but you’re like, ‘Wow, what are the ramifications of forgoing your entire known existence?’”
Not to mention being married to a character who is not on the show. Kasdan said even though he tried to get Kilmer to reprise his role, the fact that Madmartigan is not in the first season of Willow was, basically, always the plan. “We always wanted to tease this idea that Madmartigan was out there somewhere,” Kasdan said. “He was fighting the darker forces in the universe, but he was not available to his family and he couldn’t come back from where he was. And that was definitely going to be built into it, even in the moments when we thought maybe we’d get Val out to Wales for our first season.”
Of course, because of covid, they couldn’t, and as a result, that question—what happened to Madmartigan—remains a mystery at the heart of the new show. “When we couldn’t [get Kilmer to Wales], it just pushed that ball a little further down the field and we were able to add layers to it,” Kasdan said. Other questions, however, are being dealt with in season one. “Other things we wanted to find a place for, like what happened to the Brownies and what happened to the fairies, some of them got very much the treatment that I hoped they would. Others, like what happened to Tony Cox’s wonderful character from the movie, remain reasons to keep going on.”
So what did happen to Elora Danon? Is she the savior? Did Willow become a great sorcerer? Those questions and many more will be answered as Willow comes to Disney+ this week.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.