In 2010 Robin Hood was back in the movies, this time portrayed by Russell Crowe. rough what evolving narrative did he get there? Let’s work backwards, starting with Crowe, bearded and scowling, returning from war in the Middle East. Nearly 20 years earlier, we encounter Kevin Costner, also returning from war in the Middle East, but this time clean-shaven. Rewinding further back through dozens of appearances in lms and television to Errol Flynn’s denitive 1938 portrayal, we encounter a mustache and goatee taken directly from the lip and chin of Douglas Fairbanks’ 1922 silent lm. We can easily push back another 500 years through the aforementioned novels, plays, and poems to Robin’s earliest appearances in popular ballads. Starting with the earliest conceptions, we see a typical evolution of the heroic legend with the times. For example, in the sixteenth century, the folk hero, the yeoman, the bandit, the enemy of the Prince is suddenly granted an Earldom. And soon the narrative has him going along with Richard to ght in the crusades. How might the story have grown? Robin is a common enough diminutive of Robert, one of medieval England’s most popular names. Hood simply signals that he wore a hood, as bandits were commonly supposed to do. Since the earliest appearances of the name are in court records, we are tempted to suppose that the name Robin Hood was simply applied to any unnamed bandit. en the saga evolved, until various outlaw stories were conated into the mythical bandit prince we now call Robin Hood. Over the centuries, Robin Hood will ll many roles. He may have begun as a story told around the camp re, where his rst job was to defy authority, perhaps any authority, but certainly illegitimate authority. He does this admirably. As he looms larger, he is assigned a number of other jobs. As an emerging hero, he must be more than a murderer and a thief. His moral development must happen quickly. He soon learns to rob only from the rich. is strategy may reect common sense more than ethics, because the rich tend to have more worth stealing. So fairly soon he learns not only to rob from the rich but also to give to the poor. Robin Hood thus becomes a quite perfect hero. He ghts the good ght, for the common good, against the privileged forces of evil. He is wise, competent, and ethical. He is charismatic enough to become a leader of men and dashing enough to be an object of aection for women. And his legend becomes a model for many others, including Jesse James and Pretty Boy Floyd. Russell Crowe put his own gloss on the story, but its basic elements have been present for centuries.