The first season of the series, now streaming on Disney+, is earnest, joyous, and fun, a mix of high-fantasy story elements and heart, as reflective of today’s society as the original was a mirror to the world of 1988. And just like the film, it continues to blend cutting-edge technological achievements — the movie has the distinction of creating the first morphing shot, the product of Industrial Light & Magic’s own wizards — with characters who are courageous and comedic. “Going back to the original, it’s always about trying to find who you are and the hero’s journey,” Howard notes. “Is Willow a sorcerer? Is Madmartigan a rogue or is he a hero? Who is Sorsha? How does she fit in? Where does she fit in? In our minds, those were always the question marks around the movie. Using adventure, magic, and fantasy to test yourself, to be tested, to ask questions of yourself and, in a kind of an organic way, reveal who you are, how you feel, and what you stand for.”
Although he didn’t consult Lucas on the project, Howard says the film’s creator was happy to see the story continue. “He was glad we were doing it, largely out of affection for and belief in Warwick.”
And the series quickly gained popularity after its premiere in November. Just before the Christmas holiday, Howard says a bartender in Dublin, Ireland, was passing him a pint of Guinness when he paused. “He said, ‘Before you drink this, I just want you to know I’m loving Willow.’” Like those students more than two decades ago cornering Howard to chat about the film, once again he found himself in conversation with a fan who just wanted to talk about Willow.