21. Robin Hood

Speaking of losing all the fun…

Robin Hood is one of the best heroes in both literary and cinema history. He’s the prototypical hero-outlaw, the one in whose mold all antiheroes are created and the character they’re measured against. But while most heroes seem tortured and have to spend most of their time glowering and stroking their lantern jaws, he seems to being having quite a lot of fun.

So anytime someone’s going to make a film about Robin Hood, I’m going to be there. Particularly if it’s someone as ideally suited to the task as my old boss, Ridley Scott.

But it seems like the whole movie was created after the world’s worst pitch meeting.

“You know how Robin Hood’s an archer? What if he used a sword for most of the movie, instead? Archery’s so dull.”

“I like it. But here’s an  idea: what if he didn’t spend a lot of time fighting at all?”

“What could he do instead?”

“Well, he could farm. And then maybe he could just hang around a dilapidated village when he wasn’t farming.”

“What, no Sherwood forest?”

“Why bother? He could just live in a small hold and have arguments with the owners for a while.”

“What about the Merry Men?”

“Oh, my gosh, I forgot.”

“Oh, they’re always having adventures. It’s awful. Can we get rid of them?”

“Well, do we need to have Merry Men? We could just have a few dour fellows who sleep in a shed outside the hold?”

“What would they do?”

“Who cares? We’d only check in on them occasionally.”

“Well, we’d need something else to fill up the movie, then.”

“Couldn’t they rob from the rich and give to the poor?”

“I’d rather we didn’t. Do we have to?”

“I think we do. But maybe they could do it real quick, just once, so that no one could accuse us of taking it out entirely. And that would still leave a lot of time to focus on something… duller.”

“Like what?”

“How about inner government workings only tangentially related to the plot?”

“I’m in shock. That’s perfect. I can’t believe we didn’t think of it earlier.”

“I like this guy. This guy’s on fire.”

“Definitely. We’ve hit it right on the head.  All right, keep it rolling. What else?”

“We, could we introduce a lot of characters we don’t care about, then abandon them for long stretches?”

Could we? It’s like you’re reading my mind here.”

“And maybe… oh, no, I don’t want to say it.”

“No, go ahead. We’re really moving here.”

“What if Robin Hood had a dark childhood?”

“Oh my God. I love it. With flashbacks?”

“Absolutely. Constant flashbacks.”

“And maybe a hanging, portentous sense of unrealized destiny.”

“Just to keep things from getting too fun.”

“This is fantastic. All we have to do now is try to make Maid Marian dingy and unlikable.”

“Well, we have Cate Blanchett cast. She’s a good actress. What if she fights against the script and tries to rescue her character?”

“That’s the risk we have to take. Are we set?”

“Yes, I think we’ve got it.  No, no, wait! I’ve got something! The best possible ending.”

“Fantastic! Let’s have it.”

“At the end of the movie, - just for a quick second - we’ll see all the characters in Sherwood Forest, hanging out and being the fun, exciting characters they originally were!”

“What? Why?”

“To thoroughly depress the audience as they realize that this was the movie we could have made, instead of the one we did.”

“Oh. My. God. You’ve done it. This is perfect. Have we got all that?”

“Just finishing up some terse dialogue and… looks like the shooting script is ready to go.”

“This movie is going to be hugely disappointing. I couldn’t be more excited.”

“Wait ‘til they walk out of the theater, realizing that this is the same team that made Gladiator!”

“I know! It’s going to be awful for them.”

“I think we can all agree that this is going to be a decidedly mediocre movie that takes itself way too seriously. Everybody gets the rest of the day off.”

“Great work today, people. Just fabulous.”