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Ghostbusters 2 Had A Heavy Presence On Disney+'s Willow Set

Fans of the "Willow" fantasy series on Disney+, a successor to the film from 1988, know that the series did have a conclusion to its narrative arc, although the elements of a 2nd season were set up in that last installment. So, should "Willow" not get a green light to continue, viewers won't be left hanging — at least not too much.

However, it's unclear if that will happen, even though "Willow" did relatively well in the ratings, staying in the top 10 of streaming shows during December and into January during its entire run after the first two episodes were released on November 30. And if you saw the mid-credits scene at the end of that eighth episode, you'll know that some are speculating the show could run for three seasons.

The plot for the first season focused on a band of mostly young people setting out on a quest to save someone named Airk (Dempsey Bryk). A number of events — the awakening of Elora's (Ellie Bamber) power, the capture of Airk, the possession of Graydon (Tony Revolori), a meeting with Bone Reavers, and more — create an adventure story with nostalgic elements harking back to the original content material. It developed the characters in intriguing, humorous ways and didn't deal too much with mysteries. As it turns out, this formula was inspired by another '80s movie: "Ghostbusters 2." 

'Willow' has a similar sense of adventure and draws upon '80s fantasy film tropes

When making the new Disney+ "Willow," showrunner Jon Kasdan says he and others involved in the production, including producer Max Taylor, absolutely drew upon elements of 1980s fantasy films to inform its look and feel. He explained to /Film,  "And I don't think one of those days went by where we didn't reference 'Ghostbusters 2' as a stalwart. Like, the plot of 'Ghostbusters 2 being a point of reference for us in nearly every element of making this show. It's just because those are the movies we grew up on, and those are the devices and the versions of executing those tropes that we loved, and [we] wanted to service that." 

So, rather than draw upon the cult audience "Willow" has amassed since its release, Kasdan chose to reference the pop culture of the era in a larger, more universal way that will evoke nostalgia in those who lived through the age, but also give current viewers a fun ride that stays faithful to the not-very-expansive canon surrounding "Willow" (which, he said, mostly consists of a novelization and a role-playing sourcebook). "So we wanted to capture a little of that feeling of just anticipatory popcorn excitement," he continued. He said this sense of excitement has been lost since most fans get so much material before a film even comes out and on opening weekend.

Ghostbusters 2 was considered a flop in its day, but it's been getting some love lately

"Willow" has been getting rather mixed reviews, so it's not clear if the series has succeeded in fulfilling Jon Kasdan's vision. But "Ghostbusters 2" was critically panned when it was released in 1989, and like the original "Willow," it eventually earned itself a cult following.

While "Ghostbusters 2" didn't do well either at the box office compared to its predecessor, earning a little over $112 million as compared to $229 million for "Ghostbusters" back in 1984, the film has its fans. Many have sung its praises, especially in more recent years. Actor Ernie Hudson pointed out in a 2022 interview with BET, "I think the second one is more family-friendly and I think a lot more young people embrace that movie." 

The story had the now-disbanded Ghostbusters helping their old friend Dana (Sigourney Weaver) when her son starts being targeted by paranormal phenomena. They're taken to court for their actions after discovering a river of pink slime under New York City — but a new wave of ghosts soon puts them back in business. The ghost behind all this supernatural activity is Vigo, a Carpathian tyrant who needs baby Oscar to come to power in the modern day. To defeat him, the Ghostbusters draw upon the good vibes of the city.

Fans, as well as other critics, have noted that the film has a better plot and a better bad guy than the original, and some have pointed to its positive message as a strong point. And for his part, director Ivan Reitman said he thought the idea of combating the "spirit of negativity" was an interesting, big idea to build the story around.