A Definitive Ranking Of The Most Badass Robin Hoods In Movie History
There’s a new sheriff in town, which means a new Robin Hood to take him down. The latest incarnation of Robin Hood is a darker, grittier and more action-packed rendition than anything that precedes it.
But the movie also cuts out a lot of the tales we’ve been told. It’s much less about the bandits of Sherwood Forest and more straight to the point about a hardened crusader-turned-outlaw vigilante. In short, this new Robin (Taron Egerton) is much more powerful. He’s practically Batman.
When you’re done with this showdown: Mandatory Movie Battles: The New ‘Robin Hood’ v. 1991’s ‘Prince of Thieves’
Egerton traded in his Kingsman jacket for a fashionable hoodie to steal from the rich and redistribute to the common people, as is always the case with Robin of the Hood. However, this film focuses in on a ruthless Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) who oppresses the middle class into poor people with his war taxes, a war that cost Robin everything before he was sent home.
But right now, Egerton goes up against something much more intense: the long list of legendary Robin Hoods from film history in our definitive ranking for the best bandit of Sherwood.
9. Devon Sawa "Robin of Locksley" (1996)
Have you ever wondered what the story of Robin Hood would be like if instead of being a morality tale set in historical England, it was a high school drama set in a present-day prep-school? Me neither.
This almost-crazy-enough-to-work film cast the guy who played Stan in Eminem’s music video for "Stan" as Robin Hood, Rick and Morty/Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke as Marion and Pacey from Dawson’s Creek as John Prince (instead of Prince John).
It went about as well as you’d expect it to.
Moment of pure badassery: Actually attaching your name to the project.
8. Matthew Porretta "The New Adventures of Robin Hood" (1997)
In case you didn’t realize, Porretta played Will Scarlet in Mel Brook’s Robin Hood: Men In Tights. A couple of years later he starred as Robin in a television version looking to capitalize on the success of Hercules and its spinoff Xena: Warrior Princess. This didn’t work out well for anyone involved.
The series is noted for Porretta’s accent and performance, as if Robin had been coached by Ric Flair and voiced by the announcer from NBA Jam. Boomshakalaka!
Gone, too, were the trademark green tights and pointed hat; Porretta’s Robin Hood featured a manicured goatee, long wavy hair, and an all black leather outfit with metal studs everywhere. The show had the look and feel of an '80s hair-metal video.
Moment of pure badassery: Someone with the balls to pitch this to a studio in person.
7. John Cleese "Time Bandits" (1981)
Most Robin Hood portrayals focus more on the fighting and derring-do, the robbing from the rich more than the giving to the poor.
Time Bandits features a more grounded Robin Hood engaged in the reality of economic redistribution, along with a punch in the face that is, unfortunately, entirely necessary.
Moment of pure badassery: Actually doing something to benefit the proletariat instead of just waving a bow and arrow around like a nut.
6. Errol Flynn "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)
“Oh Errol, I would give anything, just to be like him,” goes the famous song by Australian Crawl.
Errol Flynn set the bar for Robin Hood portrayals, and though his performance has dated in the long years hence, it’s still a delightful romp.
Dashing, daring, skillful. Did we mention dashing? Every Robin Hood since has stood on the shoulders of a giant, and that giant is Errol Flynn.
Moment of pure badassery: Waltzing into a banquet with a dead deer on his shoulders and then putting his feet up on the table like it’s Charlie Murphy’s couch. What a baller.
5. Jonas Armstrong "Robin Hood (BBC)" (2006)
The short-lived and criminally underrated BBC series of Robin Hood was the perfect blend of flashy action and snappy one liners that we’ve come to know and love with the Sherwood bandit.
Finding itself in something of a middle ground between the sentimental millennial favorite Xena: Warrior Princess and cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones, this fantasy series walked the tightrope between fun and gritty with an under-appreciated elan - Armstrong’s spot-on delivery.
Moment of pure badassery: Some semi-automatic longbow action as Robin held an arrow in each finger and “fanned the hammer” to dispense righteous justice Legolas-style.
4. Douglas Fairbanks "Robin Hood" (1922)
This silent film was the first real screen production and established many of the tropes we know today, such as the Pan-like playfulness, the tights, and the feathered cap.
With a $1 million budget, quite a considerable sum in 1922, the star power comedic legend Fairbanks in the eponymous role, and some of the most extravagant sets ever constructed for a silent film, this had “smash hit" written all over it, well before the term ever existed.
Moment of pure badassery: In a silent film starring a famous comedian in a playful role, and just after a comedic scene involving Robin making the Sheriff of Nottingham look like a commedia dell'arte buffoon, it’s rather jolting to see Robin Hood beat a would-be assassin into the ground and then curb stomp him like Edward Norton in American History X, but that’s what happens. Hood wins!
3. Russell Crowe "Robin Hood" (2010)
The polar opposite of "Men In Tights," this more realistic take on the classic outlaw was met with mixed reviews, but there’s no denying the pedigree of the people involved and that talent shines through.
This is exactly what you’d get if you took The Gladiator's Maximus into the Middle Ages of England and let him loose with a longbow. Say what you like about Russ, but he knows how to do angry revenge tales like no other, completely in his element here.
Moment of pure badassery: In the climactic battle on the beach, Crowe’s copy-book tackle on Mark Strong’s Sir Godfrey. Low, under the ribs, good follow through - nothing less than you’d expect from the part-owner of the greatest rugby league club of all time.
2. Kevin Costner "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991)
For all the young people reading, this film was a big deal back in the day. Let’s just say that what we loved at the time didn’t age gracefully.
"Prince of Thieves" came out in 1991, well before Christopher Nolan invented plot, and this was just a series of big action sequences with very little narrative to string them together. Costner was riding high after Field of Dreams and Dances With Wolves, there was no way they were going to let anyone else star in this film. And there was no way they were going to get him to do a good accent, with predictable results: A Razzie nom.
Alan Rickman was the life blood of the film. Rest well, good Sheriff.
Moment of pure badassery: Flaming arrow shot. Every time, baby.
1. Cary Elwes "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993)
This classic parody of a classic tale has many notable moments (not the least of which is the screen debut of a young Dave Chappelle), but whilst it might be a spoof, it still features one of the most badass of all Robin Hoods.
As Cary is one to point out in the film, unlike most Robins, he’s actually English. Elwes was born to play this role, and when he finally got a shot he ran with it. The film is actually a pretty decent rendition of the Robin Hood tale to boot. Mel Brooks may do parodies, but the best parodies come from a place of love. We saw it with Blazing Saddles and the western genre, we saw it with Spaceballs and Star Wars, and we see it here with Robin Hood.
Moment of pure badassery: Using a heat seeking, high-explosive “patriot” arrow to win an archery contest, inadvertently inventing the Mexican Wave in the process.
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