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The Best of Robin Hood on Screen and in Literature

24 September 21 words: Jamie Morris

With the green hat, archer’s bow, and occasionally a goatee, Robin Hood is a true icon of Nottingham. Our home-grown legend has been featured in thousands of different stories around the globe since his conception hundreds of years ago – here are some of the most notable examples of his pop culture presence..

On the Big Screen

1991’s Prince of Thieves is far from Robin’s first cinematic appearance, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable thanks to its all-star cast. Kevin Costner dons the tights in this interpretation, facing off against Alan Rickman as the Sheriff – we also see Morgan Freeman as fugitive Azeem and Sean Connery as King Richard.

A couple of years later, Men in Tights gave us another iconic take on the hero, this time taking itself much less seriously. Director Mel Brooks loosely follows the story beats set by Prince of Thieves, but fills the film with jokes and musical numbers to keep it light-hearted.

On TV

Before Men in Tights, there was Maid Marian and her Merry Men, a BBC comedy series created by Blackadder actor Tony Robinson. Initially created for children, the show was also appreciated by parents for its underlying social commentary and pop culture references.

The outlaw returned to the BBC in 2006 with a grittier series simply titled Robin Hood. Jonas Armstrong took the lead role in a story intended to have clear parallels with modern-day politics, but it gradually came to a halt due to numerous actor departures over the course of its three-year runtime.

In Animation

Perhaps the most recognisable version of Sherwood’s hero is Disney’s Robin Hood, featuring the titular character as a charming fox and his pal Little John as a bear. The songs are super catchy and the classic hand-drawn animation can’t be faulted, making this one of the best depictions of Robin Hood out there.

A version of the character with a French accent appears in the first Shrek movie, voiced by Vincent Cassel. “Monsieur Hood” and his Merry Men are featured as minor antagonists in this depiction, performing a musical number as they attempt to slay Shrek, before being single-handedly defeated by Princess Fiona.

In Literature

Marian by Ella Lyons reimagines the legend from the love interest’s point of view, moving to Nottingham from the countryside. In this retelling, the Robin Hood she falls in love with is a young woman who wants to become a knight, and ends up protecting her from the king.

Mad Cave Studios’ recent Nottingham comic-book run takes a fresh approach to the legend, following the Sheriff of Nottingham as he tries to hunt down the Merry Men in a ‘True Detective-style medieval noir’.

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