In the Digital Age, much of what adults once considered commonplace has vanished from the experience of youth—telephones with dials with numbers on them, cassette tapes that record music, and clocks with arms that spin around seem as quaint to many middle and high school students today as steam locomotives and biplanes seemed to their grandparents. How is it, then, that a literary figure conceived in 14th century ballads and popularized in the 19th century still resonates in popular culture? The outlaw Robin Hood is an underdog, a figure not uncommon in current media. Just as Rocky defeated Apollo Creed or Daniel-san defeated the bullies from Cobra Kai in The Karate Kid, Robin battles and triumphs against political and social systems that profit from injustice and reward the already-powerful.
Similarly, Robin Hood removes himself from an oppressive society— and what adolescent has not dreamed of doing much the same thing, casting off the bands of academic servitude, and escaping to the woods to live a merry life of permanent summer with his best friends in tow? Perhaps part of the legend’s allure rests in Robin’s assembling his band of remarkable compatriots; his champions are not unlike the characters who comprise the Avengers or X-men of comic book lore. While they lack the ability to fly or harness the power of advanced technology, Robin’s Merry Men are exceptional compared to their peers, and they can outshoot, outfight, outwit, and out-sing any who comes against them. Finally, Robin Hood is an appealing figure because he is imminently accessible; his modest beginnings, his charisma, his wiliness, his sense of humor, and his overall sense of morality and decency combine to cast him as a man not terribly unlike typical men. Perhaps it is this accessibility that allows readers to glimpse a bit of themselves in the hero from Sherwood Forest.