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Mock Exam: The 14th Century Super Hero

Mock Exam: The 14th Century Super Hero

Written by Ursa Minora on the 20th of December 2011 at 14:23

Superheroes have always fascinated me. Spider Man, The Wolverine and Captain America (or Captain Capitalism as I've grown to know him), fight threats towards humanity and, perhaps more importantly, protects the less fortunate. However, as the heroes go to fight criminality, they become criminals themselves, vigilantes that illegally bring justice down on the morally disgusting. In real life geeks that have read one comic book too much have tried to dress up as superheroes to fight crime. However, as the real life heroes don't have any superpowers, their tales often ends tragically, sometimes in death or incarceration, even before they've even begun. Even though it obviously is impossible for someone to become a superhero, arguably being a super hero might prove to be possible after all, just with the power of your ethics and awesomeness. Robin Hood is the prime example of a real life vigilante that did a remarkably fine job of it too.

After King Richard Lionheart was killed by the French in the early 1400's, the British Kingdom was in somewhat of a turmoil. Richards brother, John, were, in complete contrast to his brother, hated by the people as he didn't value the common man as much as his brother had done. For Robin Hood, however, who in some versions of the legend had fought in the "holy" war and against the French, this meant having to pay a lot of taxes, as the Sheriff of Nottingham taxed the people heavily without giving them anything in return. Robin got sick of this, and refused to pay his taxes, gathering a posse of men he deemed trustworthy, and went to live in the Sherwood Forest as outlaws.

They stole from the Sheriff whenever they could, but didn't hang on to the money themselves, instead passing it on to the people of Nottingham, giving back to them what was rightfully theirs. I think Robin Hood was, without realizing it himself, of course, one of the first dedicated socialists, as he thought every man and woman to be worth as much and that everyone should have equal rights, no matter of their race, gender or social status.

In the tales of Robin Hood the posse of Sherwood Forest is described as varied with various talents, drawing a parallel to modern day superhero teams, such as the X-men, Justice League or The Avengers. Robin himself has a knack for archery, not unlike the leader of The Avengers, Hawkeye. Robin Hood may also be compared to Batman, as they both have a wonderful sidekick: Robin Hood have Little John, while Batman has a different Robin (!).

There's also the case of the damsel in distress. While not the best example the non-sexist Robin Hood, every hero must save his favorite lady from time to time. In Robin's case this would be Lady Marian, who in recent adaptions (1800's and onward) has grown more of a backbone herself. Let's use Batman as a reference once more, and we'll see at least three romances with strong women. First there is Barbara Gordon, daughter of the commissioner, who after the third Robin-sidekick died, joined Batman as Batgirl. She was shot in the spine, rendering her paralyzed from the waist down, so she now only helps the Batman with information on his cases. Batman's also having an affair with the beautiful Talia Al Ghul, who is the next in command of a conspiratorial sect. She's also the mother of Batmans only child. His last major flirt is Catwoman, who's both a rival and an ally for the Dark Knight. While Batman is more of a playboy than Robin Hood, they're both with strong independent women, even though they occasionally have to save them from the clutches of The Joker and Sir Locksley respectively.

Despite originally being a 14th century commoner, Robin sure have made an impression on comic book writers of today, as both Marvel and DC comics have been strongly influenced by the green avenger. Comic book creator and geek icon, Stan Lee, admitted in an interview with Marvel Pulse in October this year that he had used Robin Hood as an inspiration for several of his characters. Yet another feather in the cap for Mr. Hood.

As much as I want to be a superhero, I can never truly be one. Not because I don't have any superpowers, that's a trivial problem. The main issue is that if I ever were to become a superhero I would do so just for the sake of being it, not because I want to be charitable and righteous. I'll gladly pay benevolent organizations a great amount of money, but risking my thigh and neck for the sake of justice? I don't think so. And that's why no one can be a superhero, at least not these days; someone who cares enough about prevailing justice to risk their lives and reputation won't care about dressing in costumes to look awesome. If they do, they're considered eccentric or loony by media, and might be committed to an asylum of sorts. For that reason I dare say that there never will be a superhero like Robin Hood ever again; a real one that is.

"Rise and rise again. Until lambs become lions"
-Robin Hood