Heavy Metal artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud had a long history with Hollywood — including Willow, the 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard. When we look back at concept art, sometimes we see the seeds of the film we know, but other times it’s a window on the movie that wasn’t made. Such is the case here, with Moebius’ fantastic visions of Willow, Sorsha, Kael, Madmartigan, and Brownies bearing little resemblance to the characters we saw onscreen.
Though Howard was the director, Willow is often referred to as George Lucas’ movie, as he was the writer and executive producer. And that may explain some of the touches here, according to the author of the TellForward blog. Lucas was well known for drawing inspiration from Akira Kurosawa samurai movies — and Willow’s plot has the feel of a samurai quest. (Adventurer charged with transporting special baby through hostile territory, where have we heard that one before…) Though not reflected in the film that was ultimately made, these designs might have been truer to Lucas’ original idea.