This seems to be the year of eighties movie reboots … and reboot hints. Recently, following the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ron Howard revealed in an interview that he’s considering directing a sequel to his 1988 fantasy movie, Willow.
Willow, a collaboration with George Lucas and Lucasfilm, told the story of the eponymous young Nelwyn (dwarf … or, let’s be honest, Hobbit) (Warwick Davis) on a quest to protect a magical baby whose birth is prophesied to trigger the downfall of the realm’s evil sorceress queen, Bavmorda (Jean Marsh). Willow and baby Elora are accompanied by the roguish swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), and a comic relief duo of brownies, Rool and Franjean. (I actually discovered Willow through the Japanese tie-in arcade game – a bit like Ella Enchanted the movie versus the book, they exist in my mind as entirely different stories which share names.)
Willow was a fine standalone movie, with plenty of swashbuckling, fantastical moments and just the right amounts of comic relief, but I wouldn’t say no to a sequel. We seem to be living in the golden age of reboots … or the gilded age, as a friend of mine aptly puts it. Might as well make the most of things, you know?
But this wouldn’t be the first time Willow was given a sequel treatment. In the 1990s, George Lucas commissioned none other than Chris Claremont to pen The Chronicles of the Shadow War Trilogy. These books centered around Elora Danan who (spoilers) didn’t die at Bavmorda’s hands, and lived to be a teenager. Her adopted parents, Madmartigan and Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha, did not make it past the first act. Willow got a name change, “Thorn Drumheller,” for reasons that remain unclear to me. Also, there were dragons!
Aside from the inclusion of said dragons, I’m not a fan of the direction these books went; knowing Lucasfilm, I doubt the writers of this prospective sequel will be at all hindered by their existence. Willow’s expanded universe is small compared to that of Star Wars (aka the Legends books). Surely the fanbase won’t miss one trilogy of books where the (undeniably) best characters died a few chapters in!
Regarding this potential film sequel, Ron Howard thinks “it would focus a lot on Elora Danan, although Willow would have to be significantly involved.” That premise sounds like a very similar starting point to The Shadow War, but the possibilities about how it continues from there are endless. Where the modern Star Wars and Indiana Jones sequels revisited elements of the protagonists’ pasts for nostalgia’s sake, I think it would be wise to keep moving forward with Willow. Most of the conflicts of the original film were resolved by the end: the antagonists were defeated, the gigantic monsters were slain, and the heroes lived happily ever after. I think the ideal sequel would expand on the world of the first Willow film, introducing us to new realms and a new set of conflicts that are nothing like what we have seen before.
Assuming most, if not all of the surviving key players of the first movie would be set to return, there remains the question: Who would play Elora now? In Shadow War, Elora (as illustrated by fantasy artist Ciruelo Cabral) was a teenager, pictured with dark hair as opposed to the curly blond ringlets of her infancy. In terms of fancasting, I’m gravitating towards Dafne Keene (of Logan fame). Appearance-wise, I think Miss Keene fits the bill, and I imagine she’ll definitely be old enough to play the teenage heroine by the time this project is greenlit, if ever. The older Elora is, the easier it will be to realistically explain the age disparities of the original cast between Willow and the sequel.
What do you guys think of this potential sequel? Have you seen the original Willow movie? In general, what do you think of Hollywood’s current obsession with remakes and reboots? Leave a comment below!