Five Maid Marians who Suck Less than Cate Blanchett’s

Posted by Gia Manry on May 15, 2010 in Cinema |

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There are a lot of things to enjoy about the recently-released film Robin Hood, including Cate Blanchett threatening to castrate Russell Crowe. But as far as Blanchett’s Marian of Locksley goes, that’s about the extent of what there is to enjoy.

In the film Marian starts out with an admirably snarky attitude (and also kind of snobby) who devolves into something anime fans call “tsundere”– a female archetype who is in love with a male character (usually the protagonist) but is too proud to admit it. Admittedly, Blanchett plays this with considerably more dignity than I imagine Sienna Miller, who had the role originally but dropped out, would have managed.

There was a brief moment when things looked up as Marian trotted out to battle on a horse and in full armor, but then you learn that the troops she commands are a bunch of pre-teen boys on little ponies, and it turns out her entire purpose on the field is to fall off her horse trying to fight the main bad guy (Mark Strong’s Godfrey), giving Crowe’s Robin a chance to both save her and fight the antagonist.

It’s tragic because the character of Marian — usually a maid, but here a widow — has a pretty vibrant history. Here are five Maid Marians of time past who are entirely more interesting to watch than Blanchett’s.

The Adventures of Robin Hood, Olivia de Havilland

5. The Adventures of Robin Hood, Olivia de Havilland (1938)
Even people who haven’t seen Errol Flynn as Robin Hood know of the role, but few realize that Olivia de Havilland– who, a year later, would help make history in the role of mousy but strong Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind –was Flynn’s Marian, and even in 1938 she was skeptical of Robin’s easy charms. When she finally succumbed to those charms, she played a role bringing word to the Merry Men that Robin’s about to be hanged so that they could save him.

Blackadder: Back & Forth, Kate Moss

4. Blackadder: Back & Forth, Kate Moss (1999)
In this film addition to the Blackadder franchise, the titular lord finds a time machine and intends to scam his guests, only for it to turn out that the machine actually works. He unintentionally finds himself in Sherwood Forest, where he points out to the Merry Men that they live in even more squalor than most others in their time period, only to give everything they get to the poor. The Merry Men turn on Robin– but Kate Moss’s Marian is too busy boinking Lord Blackadder to care.

Robin and Marian, Audrey Hepburn

3. Robin and Marian, Audrey Hepburn (1976)
Aside from being Hepburn’s first role in 9 years at the release of this film– and from Robin himself being played by Sean Connery –Audrey Hepburn’s Marian also follows the formula that showing a modicum of resistance to the protagonist’s charm makes her “strong,” but it was less of an established formula in the ’70s, and holy shit dude, it’s Audrey Hepburn. Definitely worth a rental.

Disney's Robin Hood, Monica Evans

2. Disney’s Robin Hood, Monica Evans (1973)
Setting aside the requisite joke about this Marian being a fox– GET IT? Because she and Robin are both FOXES? And everyone else are animals too? GET IT?! –Disney’s Marian was good at badminton and she plays along with the kiddies. Not exactly a fiery heroine, but she was a great singer, too. And did I mention she’s a fox?

Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Kate Lonergan

1. Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Kate Lonergan (1989)
The current Robin Hood film prides itself on taking an unusual stance on Robin’s origins, but Kate Lonergan’s Maid Marian on the 1989 BBC TV series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men trumps them. In this version, it was Marian who organized the band of merry men living in Sherwood Forest, with Robin portrayed as a primping wuss mistakenly seen as the leader. Now THAT’S a Marian!

Gia Manry is a professional writer based in San Francisco, CA. She likes being followed on Twitter and can also be contacted via her website.

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