Follow TV Tropes


Film / Robin Hood (2010)

Go To

Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.

Robin Hood is a 2010 film starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Oscar Isaac and Mark Strong, directed by Ridley Scott.

The film distinguishes itself from previous Robin Hood films in that, like other then-recently rebooted franchises like Star Trek (2009) and The Dark Knight Trilogy, it offers an expanded origin story for the hero, showing how he met his supporting cast and how he became an outlaw. However, the fictional elements of the film's origin story are made up for the film itself, and familiar folkloric elements are not depicted, or at least not in the usual way. The film connects Robin's origins with historical tensions between King John and his nobles. Historical liberties taken are extreme.

The Third Crusade is over, and an archer of murky origins named Robin Longstride deserts the English army together with his friends. He comes across a dying knight who sets him off on a quest to discover the secrets of his past. Meanwhile, England is beset by troubles from within and without. A newly crowned king's incompetence proves taxing, the nobles are restive, the common people face impending poverty and hunger, and a traitor is working with foreign powers to cripple the kingdom. Robin's journey takes him to the English royal court and to the struggling town of Nottingham, where he finds his true heritage and true love, and rises at England's hour of need to burst into legend as "Robin of the Hood".


The usual storyline, about the nobleman Robin being outlawed, making trouble for the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Storming the Castle at the end to save Maid Marion (the one used by Douglas Fairbanks' silent Robin Hood, Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Men in Tights, etc.) is hardly covered here — this film is more of an Origins Episode for that heroic outlaw.

Unlike some other Robin Hoods and like one other (Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn's Robin and Marion, which featured Robin at the end of his career), the film is mostly set in the reign of King John and only features his brother Richard the Lionheart at the start (and he dies by a French crossbow shot instead of needing to be ransomed). The film also includes more Historical Domain Characters than is usual for Robin Hood films. Aside from Kings Richard and John, Queen Mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, John's wife Queen Isabella of Angoulême, the English court official William Marshal and King Philip Augustus of France all have roles in the plot.


Like most previous Robin Hood films, this movie has its own beat and style. It is an Adaptation Distillation of centuries of oral and written tradition, and book, television and film treatments. Most of the familiar story details everyone knows only developed through the centuries, including the association of Richard and John, Robin being a knight, a Storming the Castle climax, and even Robin's shtick of robbing the rich and giving to the poor.

Robin Hood provides examples of:

General examples

    open/close all folders 

  • Action Girl: After Sir Walter has Robin agree to pretend to be his son Robert for a while, including pretending to be Marion's husband, she informs him that "I sleep with a dagger" and he takes the floor. She later pretends to seduce one of Godfrey's knights and kills him with a knife to the back of the neck, then wears Sir Walter's armor to fight in the battle on the beach.
  • Actor Allusion: Max von Sydow as a bitter old crusader knight, huh?
  • Adaptation Expansion: While not a conventional retelling of Robin Hood like other films, the movie is an origin story for Robin and provides a setup for the legend.
  • All There in the Manual: The Production Notes (.doc file) and assorted interviews reveal some plot and character details not found or not explained in full in the theatrical cut.
  • Almighty Janitor: King Richard is killed by a French cook who takes a pot-shot at him while delivering soup.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: France really invaded England during King John's reign, though it happened a decade later.
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite the film's generally authentic medieval feel (Artistic License – History aside), the ships in the climactic beach battle look rather like WWII-era Higgins boats, only rowed instead of motorized. The ships and the battle itself have prompted comparisons to Saving Private Ryan. During that battle Robin also uses a type of war hammer that would not be common until the 15th century.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted, the most important deaths (Richard, Godfrey) happen via arrow.
  • Archer Archetype: Well, it is Robin Hood.
  • Arc Words: "Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions." According to Robin it means "Never give up." The phrase is the motto of his late father, who was executed for preaching in favor of increased civil rights and against absolute monarchism. Sir Walter, a supporter, had the phrase engraved on his sword hilt. When his son gives this sword to Robin years later, Robin's suppressed memories are stirred by the phrase, kicking off the main plot thread.
  • Arrow Cam: Used when Robin finally kills Godfrey.
  • Arrows on Fire: The archers shoot bags of crude oil, planted by sappers, to blow up a castle gate.
  • Artistic License – History: Despite being promoted as going into the history behind the legend, the film contains rather large deviations and inventions, enough to deserve their own article.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: King Richard the Lionheart leads his army into battle from the front which gets him killed and later King John feels obliged to as well, despite it being his first time, and despite the objections of his retainers. He gets so caught-up in the fighting he clashes swords with William Marshal by mistake near the end, though nobody gets hurt.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Subverted, as the audience knows the guy being crowned is by all accounts (including his mother's) the wrong man for the job.
  • Band of Brothers: After 10 years together in the army, Robin's friends choose to stick around even after Robin urges them repeatedly to go their own ways.
  • Beard of Evil: While many males in the film have facial hair, ranging from Perma-Stubble to full beards, this trope applies to various villain characters: King John, the Sheriff, the true Big Bad King Philip, and Godfrey's second-in-command. Godfrey is the only clean-shaven villain, but a different trope applies to him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Robin, the Merry Men and a force of English soldiers drive off Godfrey's "tax collectors" from Nottingham. They are The Cavalry from Marion's perspective.
  • Big "NO!": Robin utters one of these at the final battle when Marion is taken down by Godfrey.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: The nobility are perfectly comfortable speaking and understanding both French or English. This is true to history as, just barely a hundred and fifty years after the Norman Conquest, much of the nobility and certainly the Norman royal house would have used French (or, specifically, Anglo-Norman, a related language also called Norman French) as their language of choice. English was a peasant's tongue and was not used in government until the fourteenth century, due to The Hundred Years War and further reinforcement of negative opinions of the French. Thus, most of them never used English (Richard did not even speak it).
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Male example. The three Merry Men. Little John is the blond, Allan A'Dayle is the brunet and Will Scarlet is the redhead.
  • Blood Brothers: John and Godfrey are "joined at the breast", i.e. had the same nursemaid, so they are literal bosom buddies from way back. Godfrey is Evil All Along. Learning of his betrayal leaves John quite shaken.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: The climactic battle on the beach, albeit downplayed; see Bloodless Carnage.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The film aimed for a PG-13 rating (for the theatrical cut at least), and so there is relatively little blood and no gore, compared to Gladiator.
  • Blood Oath: Twice:
    • When Godfrey swears allegiance to the French king, the king is eating raw oysters and has just cut himself opening one. He offers Godfrey the oyster laced with his blood, and Godfrey eats it.
    • Alan points out to Robin when he swears to return Sir Robert's sword that this trope is in effect, since Robin had nicked his hand. Robin blows this off but still returns the sword to Sir Robert's father.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: King Richard and Little John.
  • Bookends: When Robin first crosses paths with Godfrey, Godfrey flees on horseback, and Robin only manages to nick him with an arrow. In the end, the same situation plays out, but Robin catches him in the neck.
  • Burn Baby Burn: Walter is cremated.
  • Canon Foreigner: Most notably Original Characters Godfrey and Walter. In a looser sense, the Historical Domain Characters, aside from Richard and John, who get to be part of the story for once.
  • The Cavalry: Robin and part of the army drive off Godfrey's raiders/tax collectors from Nottingham. They are also cavalry.
  • Chekhov's Army: The film opens with a band of young thieves stealing Nottingham grain. Marion explains they are orphans whose fathers died in Richard's wars. While they are glimpsed once or twice in the middle of the film, they show up again to help Marion and Tuck free the captive villagers while Robin and The Cavalry fight off Godfrey's raiders. They also show up at the climactic beach battle, led by an armor-clad Marion. At the very end of the film, when Robin is declared to be an outlawww, they form the majority of his band.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Friar Tuck's beehives and Marion's self-defense dagger come in handy when the French are pillaging Nottingham.
  • Chewing the Scenery: King John during his OUTLAWWW! scene at the end.
  • Cool Horse: Robin rides the king's white horse throughout the film.
  • Corrupt Church: Most of the church officials are blind to the hunger and poverty of the people, as long as their own riches are filled. Averted with Friar Tuck, who can use the Church's own argument against them when Robin robs the grain from the previous Friar.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Godfrey is best buddies with the King of England, who promotes him to his second-in-command. He couldn't possibly get any more power by betraying him to King Philip. He takes a great risk to become a rich man in a wealthy nation rather than a rich and powerful man in a less wealthy nation.
  • Dance of Romance: Robin and Marion get one (to the beautiful "Woman of Ireland") when the villagers are celebrating the planting of the corn stolen by Robin and his men from the Corrupt Church officials.
  • Dangerous Deserter: The film begins with Robin and co. fleeing the battlefield with their king dead, the army close to an outright rout, and every man out for himself. They fit the trope themselves, but are also wary of running into any others on the way home.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is certainly one of the grimmest tellings of a Robin Hood story, from the old ballads to modern works. Definitely so, compared to The Adventures of Robin Hood and most other Robin Hood films, by having more (or more overt) violence, politics and poverty than is the norm. Crowe's Robin is far from Flynn's wisecracking rogue. Even Prince of Thieves, which already tried to be Darker and Edgier while at the same time having Alan Rickman as the Sheriff, is outdone by this film.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Robin and his fellow deserters pose as knights killed in an ambush to get back to England quickly. Later, Robin continues to live as Robert of Locksley at the family's request. This helps meld the various backstories of Robin as both a commoner and knight into one story, as well as explain why a knight would be so good with a longbow, traditionally a commoners' weapon.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Their fight was interrupted before it could finish, but when the king's presence cools down his anger, Little John admits that he'd earned Robin's ire. From that point on, he follows Robin without question, only refusing the latter's order to stop following.
  • Divide and Conquer: This is Philip's plan to conquer England. He sends his agent, Godfrey (who's a friend of England's king, John) and has him act in John's name to incite the barons against him. It almost works, but Robin exposes this plan before he can invade, uniting them against Philip.
  • Divine Right of Kings: Robin Longstride and England's barons make a deal with King John that they'll follow him into battle against a French invasion if he agrees to sign a charter limiting his power as king. After the battle, John goes back on his word, invoking divine right, and declares Robin an outlaw for impersonating a nobleman.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Robin wields a horseman's hammer during the cavalry sequence, before switching to a sword for the climactic final duel.
    • Likewise Little John. Note above how his staff has an axe head now? The other end has a mace head.
  • Duel to the Death: In the middle of a battle, Robin faces Godfrey in a sword fight, though the traditional outcome of this trope is subverted when Godfrey rides off and Robin offs him with a single long-range arrow shot... from behind.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Despite John being the runt of Queen Eleanor's eight children, he is correct on every account about how the state of England isn't his fault, but Richard's.
  • The Dung Ages: Ye Goode Olde Days are scarcely glimpsed here, which ticked off many reviewers.
  • Evil Plan: Oddly enough, it's not planned by King John or the Sheriff but King Philip of France who wants to invade.
  • Fanservice:
    • Robin removing his armor is for the ladies, as well as continuing the growing sexual tension between Robin and Marion.
    • Shortly after Robin's scene, the rest of the merry men get a similar scene.
    • The scene that introduces us to Prince John has him naked in bed with a very attractive French young lady.
  • Feudal Overlord: A benevolent and not particularly wealthy example in the Locksleys of Nottingham; Marion works together with their tenant farmers in the fields, and later Robin and the Merry Men follow suit.
  • Flirting Under Fire: Marion and Robin kiss in the water between the French warships as the fighting rages on around them.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Robin — Melancholic (always thinking, very progressive, and a natural leader)
    • Little John — Choleric (patient enough to wait for Robin's signal to go into fights, as he is infantry, but never hesitates when it's time to fight, is the big guy of the team, and can be fairly cruel with his jokes)
    • Will Scarlet — Sanguine (the most social of the four, quick to make jokes, but also the one to verbally panic when the group approaches London)
    • Allan-a-Dale — Phlegmatic (quiet when he's not singing, generally follows along with anything the others want without argument)
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Worn by the nobles and soldiers; contrasted with the plain clothes of the Nottingham peasants. Marion's dresses are also comparatively plain compared to the garments of the other noblewomen in the film.

  • The Hecate Sisters: The three female characters. Flirty and sensual Princess Isabella is the Maiden, middle-aged Action Girl Marion Loxley is the Matron and elderly Eleanor of Aquitaine is the Crone.
  • The High Middle Ages: The film takes place after the Third Crusade.
  • Historical Downgrade: So fond of this that it occasionally ventured into Narm territory, especially with Richard's death and the Sheriff of Nottingham in general.
  • I Am Dying Please Take My Macguffin: Twice.
    • First: After deserting the English army upon Richard's death, Robin and company come across an ambush of the King's knights. The knights were escorting Richard's crown back to England. The trope is downplayed because Robin is not actually tasked with escorting the crown in their place, but seizes the chance to get a free trip home. Cue Dead Person Impersonation.
    • Second: Robin is directly tasked by a dying knight to bring his sword back to his father. The sword doubles as both Memento Macguffin and Sword of Plot Advancement, because Arc Words engraved on its hilt stir Robin's hazy childhood memories, and this drives him to seek out more information in the knight's hometown of Nottingham.
  • Innocent Innuendo: When discussing Marion's husband.
    Robin: A good knight.
    Marion: Short but sweet.
    Robin: No... I meant he was a good knight.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Used by an English spy to alert William Marshal of Godfrey's machinations.
  • Large Ham: Boisterous Bruiser King Richard, and his brother John even more so. See The Lion in Winter; it runs in the family.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In one scene, Marion explains to Robin that "I was no maid" when she married her husband.
    • Later, the French stirring up trouble in England includes a scene where a French soldier cuts a chandelier's rope, crushing a priest underneath.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Prince John doesn't mind standing on his bed completely naked as he's talking with his mother.
  • Nonindicative Name: Some reviewers are of the opinion that the plain title "Robin Hood" was inadequate for a film about how a man became Robin Hood amidst warring kingdoms. He is "officially" Robin Hood only at the end. May fall into In Name Only territory, if you Accentuate the Negative and have the Flynn-style Robin as reference.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: This provided much humor for British viewers of the film, in which Robin Hood jumps around several areas of England in a single scene. Also proved to be Russell Crowe's Berserk Button, when quizzed by Mark Lawson about it.
  • Oop North: The accent is attempted by Crowe, not entirely successfully (see above) and is also used by the Northern barons.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted (if you consider diminutive names) with Little John/King John, Will Scarlet/William Marshal and Robin Longstride/Robert Locksey.
  • One-Woman Wail: Used in some scenes.
  • Origins Episode: This movie is one for the legend of Robin Hood, as most of the movie is about explaining how myths related to him (such as stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, being an incredible archer, living in the forest with his Merry Men, etc.) came to be in the first place. By the end of the movie the Robin of legend has only just begun his work, and the Sheriff of Nottingham has finally become his antagonist.
  • Parental Favoritism: John accuses Eleanor of doing this in favor of Richard.
  • People of Hair Color: Mostly averted. Unlike other versions where Saxons are blonde and Normans are dark-haired, most people in the film are dark-haired. Will Scarlet appears to be a Welsh redhead though.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Godfrey's modus operandi, under the pretense of taxation. Feeling strapped for cash, the newly crowned John plans to raise taxes against the advice of his infinitely more experienced mother and chancellor. John fires the chancellor and gives his job to Godfrey, who is ordered to get him his money by all means. Godfrey personally leads a warband through the land carrying out the trope; the audience knows all along that Godfrey is an agent of France purposely spreading unrest and disunity in anticipation of an invasion.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: John gives one about Richard to Queen Eleanor when she criticizes him for not being more like his experienced brother. John points out that his mother has supported Richard through everything, from the far-too-costly wars to having to pay four year's worth of England's treasury to ransom him when he was captured by the Austrians, and the basic fact that the entire reason England is in such disarray now is Richard's fault.
  • Re-Cut: As is the norm with Ridley Scott films, this one received a Director's Cut, which added 15 minutes to the film and filled in a major Plot Hole. Details here.
  • Recycled INSPACE!:
    • The final beach battle, with apparently anachronistic ships, has been described as Saving Private Ryan IN MEDIEVAL TIMES!
    • Even before the film was released, comments were rife about the film being Gladiator IN SHERWOOD! just because of the same director and same lead star with the same haircut, and Braveheart IN ENGLAND! just because there are battles and Robin gives a Rousing Speech.
  • Red Herring: The scene where Marshal tells Godfrey to backstab him before he does. In fact, that's the last they interact with each other in the movie, and Godfrey is shot through the throat.
  • Re Write: As stated above, the film creates its own origin story and does not follow the familiar template Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner and others have depicted. But besides that, the film also does not use familiar details from folklore.
    • For starters, Robin is given a new name, "Longstride". As the movie progresses, he does become "Robin of Locksley" in a way (see below).
    • Instead of Robin and Little John fighting with staffs over a bridge, the film has the two fighting over a shell game.
    • Instead of Robin meeting Friar Tuck at a river and the two conning each other into carrying the other over, Tuck is the new town priest who does beekeeping and mead brewing on the side.
    • Will Scarlet and Allan A'Dayle are already Robin's army buddies at the start. Will is not related to Robin.
    • Instead of stealing money and jewels and distributing them to the poor, Robin steals grain owed to the Church so that the people of Nottingham won't starve.
    • But the biggest innovation in the film is probably making Robin a common archer who impersonates a dead knight named Locksley, and Marion being that dead knight's wife.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The English royal family. Richard and John despise each other, and John has some serious Mommy Issues.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Kings of England and the King of France act as field commanders in battle, though John's lack of experience is duly noted and has to take advice from William Marshal and Robin.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Jimmy who's there to get killed off by Godfrey's men.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: With an arrow.
  • Scenery Porn: Several areas, not including drab Nottingham. In one scene, the English cavalry assembles at a verdant hillside with a huge white horse carved into it. Such figures really exist, though the film is vague as to which of the real ones is supposed to be represented. Only one existed at the time, but it looks nothing like the one in the film.
  • Shirtless Scene: Robin gets one when Marion prepares a bath for him. The Merry Men get one after their "historic evening".
  • Shoot the Messenger: An interesting variation; John's wife puts a dagger to her own breast and offers it to John as a pledge of honesty when he furiously accuses her of lying about Godfrey's betrayal. It works, and he believes her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott previously worked on Gladiator, and rehashed a number of elements from it. Scott had to assure Crowe, "It's okay to steal from ourselves!"
    • Crowe as Robin Hood catches a weapon thrown to him by The Big Guy after riding along the ranks of his troops on horseback, exactly as he did in Gladiator.
    • The anachronistic-looking warships arriving at the beach battle seem to reference the famous D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan.
  • Shown Their Work: Russell Crowe practiced archery for four months in preparation for the role of Robin Hood, and has been a fan of Robin since childhood.
  • Simple Staff: Little John's traditional staff is upgraded to a big ol' axe. Other characters use normal staffs.
  • Sixth Ranger:
    • Little John, who works with siege engines unlike the archers Robin, Will and Allan, joins the three (who he already somewhat knows) when they desert the army. Will jokes that they don't take strays.
    • Later, Friar Tuck helps them rob a caravan, and he and Marion have joined Robin's outlaw band by the end.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": "Allan A'Dayle" instead of the usual 20th century spelling Alan-a-Dale; likewise, Marion instead of Marian, and Loxley instead of Locksley.
  • Spiritual Successor: Often said to be so to Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe's own Gladiator.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: Richard's crown is mounted on his helmet.
  • Tagalong Kid: When Robin, John, Will and Allan desert the army after Richard's death, a young sapper (who Robin saved in the film's opening castle siege) comes with them. However, he's also a Red Shirt.
  • Take Over the World: The Evil Plan of the real Big Bad is to take over England. He originally planned to have Richard killed, but Richard helpfully got himself killed on his own even before we see him plotting. He counts on his agent Godfrey, John's buddy, to get into a position of power by which he can foment unrest. With the English nobles divided among themselves, he then plans to invade. It would have worked too, despite counter-intelligence finding the plan out, except for a certain archer blundering across a dying knight, who then compels him to go to Nottingham, where he will find out his true heritage — which includes a drafted charter of rights which is used to unite the nobles in support of John (and vice versa).
  • This Cannot Be!: When King Philip sees the English army waiting for him, he says (paraphrased) "This does not look like a country at war with itself!"
  • Title Drop:
    • A straight one doesn't occur, but "Robin of the Hood" shows up at the end.
    • Also, when Robin's gang rob a caravan, he quips: "We are men of the hood, merry now at your expense". Also in the beginning, Robin's response to Little John wanting to travel with them: "The more, the merrier."
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • Trailers kept the fact that the movie centers around Robin before his outlaw days hidden.
    • The trailers also appear to show Robin ambushing a group of knights in a forest, but he is really ambushing the ambushers of the knights themselves.
  • Translation Convention: Considering all English nobles at this time would have spoken French. Richard the Lionheart is recorded as not being able to speak English at all (meaning modern historians consider it more accurate to refer to him as Richard Coeur de Lion).
  • Turn Coat: Godfrey, whose treachery is in no way hidden from the audience.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Or at least expected to be able to appreciate inter-kingdom rivalries and the ramifications of Magna Carta on British and world history. This didn't go over well with those who were expecting a more traditional treatment.
  • Villainous Valor: While John isn't necessarily in his traditional role as the villain yet, he eagerly rides into battle against the French. During the meeting of English nobles prior to the battle he also shows up unannounced and unexpected, and tells a noble that confronts him that he's fully welcome to stab him if he thinks it will help the situation.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the theatrical cut at least, Prince John's first wife disappears after the scene which establishes she has been displaced by the French princess, which France can use as a pretext to go to war. John says he will ask the Pope for an annulment, but that's all the film gives on this matter.
    • After King Richard dies, Robin and his group head back to England. The rest of the English army (hundreds or thousands of troops) are left behind in France to continue the war. They are never mentioned again. What makes this incredibly jarring is that near the end of the movie the French invade England with a sizable army. How is this possible if they are still at war at home? This is addressed early in the film when Robin mentions that he expects most of them to either be sent home or desert, thus his line about wanting to beat them to the boats before the price of crossing goes up a hundred fold.

Tropes with their own pages