“What we ask for is liberty … by law!”

I was still a kid when I first heard about the Magna Carta, a 13th-century document that limited the right of English kings to abuse their power. And I can remember being intrigued by the fact that King John, the monarch who was compelled to sign this document against his will, had previously been the evil Prince John that I’d heard about in all the Robin Hood stories.

So my ears perked up when I saw this newest ad for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and heard the last line in particular:

Is this a nod to the Magna Carta? Have Scott and his screenwriters moved the timeline around, to allow Sir Robin of Locksley to become one of the barons who forced this document on John? I guess we’ll find out when the film opens May 14.

But just for the record, I think this particular bit of historical revisionism could be kind of fun. It certainly has the potential to induce less eye-rolling than that ludicrous bit in Gladiator (2000) where Marcus Aurelius proposes turning the Roman Empire into a democracy after he’s dead.

Speaking of Robin Hood and revisionism, my friend and colleague Steven D. Greydanus now keeps a blog for the National Catholic Register, and he recently posted an item there on the cultural significance of Hollywood’s skeptical approach to iconic legendary figures such as King Arthur and, yes, Robin Hood.

And while we’re at it, I never did get around to posting a link to this six-month-old story in the Hollywood Reporter, which says a “futuristic” version of the Robin Hood legend is currently in the works at Warner Brothers. Make of that bit of news what you will.

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