Filled with tons of '80s fantasy goodness, Ron Howard's "Willow" is something of a hidden gem within the director's filmography. Over the years, viewers have come to love this George Lucas-produced underdog adventure, which follows Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) as he tries to help baby Elora Danan achieve her destiny of conquering the evil Queen Bavmorda. With its luscious James Horner score, memorable performances, then-cutting-edge special effects, and delightful storytelling, it's easy to see why "Willow" has become such a cult fan favorite over the years.
Now, with a new Disney+ sequel series on the way, it feels appropriate to take a look back at the magic of "Willow." There's quite a bit to examine, from the stunning scenery to the lore, but the most crucial element of the film must be its fascinating cast of characters. Who among their ranks is the greatest? Who is a hero worthy of celebrating … or a villain deserving of delicious haterade? Read on to find out!
Franjean And Rool
Known for their pocket-sized stature and rambunctious energy, Franjean and Rool are among the most memorable "Willow" characters, though perhaps not for the greatest reasons. Coming from the Lesser Faery domain, these two Brownies are sent by the powerful Cherlindrea to help Willow on his quest. And though one might think they'd be beneficial to the team, Franjean and Rool more often get into trouble than provide any sort of solution.
From accidentally getting cursed by a love potion to constantly lagging behind the rest of the group, both characters are often weak in helping Willow achieve his goal. Sure, the comedic talents of Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton make the pair more entertaining, and they do help Willow and Madmartigan on occasion, especially during the chase scene from the tavern. But with their high-pitched voices and immature humor(combined with their lackluster abilities), these two Brownies remain one of the less-pleasant aspects of this otherwise fantastic movie.
Visually speaking, General Kael (Pat Roach) evokes a vibe like no other with his menacing skull-adorned mask and intimidating presence. Remembered by fans for his metal album cover aesthetic, Queen Bevormorda's right-hand man is loyal beyond measure: Not only did he famously announce his dismantling of the castle of Galladoorn, but he was able to capture Elora Danan for his queen. Yet beyond his iconic look and exposition-filled backstory, there isn't much to Kael's personality. His underdeveloped character is what lands him so low in this ranking.
Sure, there's no denying that Kael is a decent evil accomplice. Take, for example, his showdown against the swashbuckling rebel, Madmartigan — though he eventually gets his mask broken and is slashed in the face, he is relentless and will do just about anything to gain victory (and respect from his queen). And even though this results in his untimely end, viewers will always look fondly upon this awesome-looking baddie.
A complicated redhead, Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) is quite the mixed bag. She can swing a sword better than some of the other protagonists, and her backstory of being the daughter of Queen Bavmorda is fascinating on paper. But when it comes to her overall arc, it seems that Sorsha got the short end of the narrative stick. She starts off strong in the first act, searching for Elora to try to please her mother, but once she realizes her feelings towards Madmartigan and turns to the good side, the character's storyline seems to fall flat on its face.
Thankfully Sorsha becomes helpful in the epic conclusion between Fin Raziel and Bavmorda, but with the subplot of her trying to find her frozen father ending up on the cutting room floor, it seems that her narrative journey fell to the wayside, as well. That's a shame, because Joanne Whalley makes Sorsha such a commanding presence on screen. But like many other female characters from the '80s fantasy era, Sorsha deserved much better than what she was given.
With his blonde locks and heroic good looks, Airk Thaughbaer (Gavan O'Herlihy) is as stereotypical a fantasy hero as a character could be. Serving the army of the once-great Galladoorn, Airk once famously mentored Madmartigan, resulting in their close friendship. But when the latter refused to fight in the Galladoorn army, their friendship fell to the wayside. And yet, even with their stormy history, Airk is still a respectable guy — one who would set aside his misgivings in favor of protecting Elora Danan.
While there's no denying Airk has a compelling persona, he, unfortunately, doesn't get enough screentime to make him one of the standout characters within the "Willow" franchise; his heart of gold and honorable demeanor lands him closer to the middle of this ranking. He's a trustworthy companion and a classic good guy deep down, one who recognizes the good in everyone, even someone as mischievous as Madmartigan — an aspect that few characters on this list possess.
Like many of the most fantastic friends in pop culture history, Meegosh (David J. Steinberg) is as good a pal as any hero could ask for. Similar to other fantasy best friends, such as Samwise Gamgee from "The Lord of the Rings," Meegosh is earnest almost to a fault: From the moment he volunteers himself to go on the quest with Willow, he finds himself in a series of life-threatening scenarios. But it is his compassion towards his best friend that keeps him going no matter what.
Unfortunately, much like many of the other more supporting characters on this list, Meegosh doesn't get quite as much screentime as fans might like. And like Samwise, he indeed had the potential to be a more integral element of the story as it unfolds, especially when Willow battled the trolls at Tir Asleen. For all of his accomplishments in the first act, Meegosh proves that every hero (no matter their status) needs a best friend to achieve their goals.
Considered one of the funniest parts of the entire movie, Burglekutt (Mark Northover) certainly leaves an impact on Willow's character and the movie as a whole. The prefect of the village Willow resides in, Burglekutt is a no-nonsense Newlyn who often lets his egotistical mindset get in the way of his decisions. And while this can be frustrating to see, especially in his interactions with our lead hero, it also leads to moments of comedic perfection in the film's first act.
Like Meegosh, Burglekutt has minimal screen time compared to the rest of the characters on this list. And while it makes sense why he doesn't play a bigger role in Willo's story, he likely would have been a fantastic addition to the team. He could have offered even more comedic flair, for one thing. His hilarious contribution to the narrative, however limited, definitely earns Burglekutt a spot on this list.
Prophesied to be the savior of the Kingdom against the evil Queen Bavmorda, Elora Danan is a baby with a lot of promise. She seems to charm just about anyone who glances at her with her sparkly eyes and delightful, newborn smile — especially her faithful companion and champion, Willow Ufgood. Indeed, it was her adorable laugh and easygoing vibe that made Willow and his family know she wasn't just any ordinary baby, but someone exceptional.
But even with her inner and outer glow, she's still an infant and can only do so much. This is why, as much as she's an intricate part of the story, Elora is one of the characters that ends up here, in the middle of our ranking. She clearly has a lot of promise (a fact made clear by the "Willow" sequel books); perhaps the forthcoming sequel series will allow her to climb up in the ranks.
Taking cues from some of the greatest villains of all time, Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) is a baddie not to be messed with. The perfect combination of terrifying and regal, Bavmorda is as selfish and narcissistic as they get; her drive to get rid of anyone in her way, even a baby, is quite despicable. Yet what makes Queen Bavmorda gain a higher ranking on this list is the almost cartoonish and horrific lengths she'll go to when trying to accomplish her tasks.
From threatening her own daughter to turning her adversaries into grotesque pigs, Queen Bavmorda certainly evokes genuine girl boss energy that is both impressive and spooky at the same time, and nothing speaks volumes quite like Bavmorda's final moments in the film: Her fight with Fin Raziel is iconic not only for the character's flair for drama, but also her inability to stand down in her mission. While some fans genuinely despise Bavmorda, it's also easy to see why so many love to hate her.
Filled with kindness from head to toe, Kiaya Ufgood (Julie Peters) is among the sweetest characters in the entirety of "Willow." The wife of the lead character and mother to Ranon and Mims, Kiaya is as genuine, and earnest as any character can be. She wears her heart on her sleeve and always sees the best in everybody, even a little Diakini baby like Elora Danan. It is that willingness to open her heart that makes it impossible not to adore her.
Yet, like many of the Newlyn characters on this list, Kiaya doesn't get the screen time she deserves. Her willingness to make tough choices and see the potential in the ones she loves are what make her such an endearing character. When complemented by James Horner's beautiful score, the magic of Kiaya as a character really comes through. She is beautiful, selfless, and strong — something we should all aspire to be.
High Aldwin Junn
Known for being a great sorcerer, High Aldwin Junn (Billy Barty) is one of the greatest (and funniest) of the Newlyns in Willow's village. Considered a profound and significant figure in the community, Junn is undoubtedly a quirky individual, but he is at his best when he takes hold of stressful situations and gives the proper guidance to his people – as when he uses "the bones" to provide the answers he seeks. Even though they didn't really help him, Junn somehow always knows what to do.
This delightful trait, along with his confidence and support of Willow, makes Junn a great addition to the movie. Much like the best fantasy stories, there always needs to be a wise old character who understands the adventure ahead for the young hero, and High Aldwin Junn is the classic embodiment of that character. He doesn't have as much screen time as the rest of the cast, but certainly leaves a beautiful mark on the film and its fans.
With his devilish good looks and swashbuckling ways, Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) is the perfect character to pair with Willow Ufgood. In many ways, the two are opposites – not only in stature, but in the level of experience they bring onto the battlefield and the level of maturity each character operates at. Also worth noting: Madmartigan isn't the master of romance he believes himself to be, and often reacts before thinking things through.
All of that said, Madmartigan is one of the best characters in "Willow" for one very simple reason: Deep down, he has a good heart. Sure, he's selfish and egotistical at times (almost to a fault), but when he puts that aspect of himself aside and starts to think of others — especially Willow and Sorsha — he turns out to be one heck of a hero. With the magnificent talent of Val Kilmer behind him, it's no wonder why Madmartigan remains such a beloved character.
Held in high regard, Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes) is a sorceress of legendary capabilities. Cursed by Queen Bevmorda to live her life as a possum, Raziel certainly doesn't have it easy compared to many of the other characters in the film. Yet it is her journey towards becoming human that's not only one of the most visually entertaining parts of the movie, but also one of the funniest sequences in the film.
Raziel showcases why she is an essential part of the story in the film's final act: She's not only an incredible fighter in the battle against Queen Bevmorda, but also one of the most memorable and influential female characters in the fantasy film genre. Why? Because Raziel proves that age is only a number. She is a truly unique hero, one who stands as an example of true courage.
One of the most unlikely heroes, Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) proves the impossible can, indeed, be possible. A young father who dreams of being a sorcerer, Willow calls to mind the heroes from the fantasy genre. Much like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Willow never aspired to save the day; he just wanted to make his family proud. In taking on the challenge of helping Elora Danan defeat the evil Queen Bevmorda, he did just that.
That's what makes Willow such a delightful character. Sure, he has grand aspirations that many doubt he can achieve, but viewers of all kinds can relate to that concept. Viewers might also understand what it's like to be paired with someone who is your polar opposite in order to reach an unthinkable goal — something that allows for Willow and Madmartigan to eventually become best friends.
But even more so, everyone can identify with Willow because we've all used what makes us special to achieve an impossible task at least once in our lives. All of those things combined (along with Davis' amazing performance) make Willow an iconic protagonist.
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The post Every Main Character in Willow, Ranked Worst to Best appeared first on /Film.