Producer Basil Iwanyk talks about setting Robin Hood: Origins apart from previous adaptions

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We’ve been hearing a lot about upcoming projects from John Wick: Chapter 2 producer Basil Iwanyk over the last few days as he does the press rounds to promote the sequel (releasing 10 February in the US but only 17 March locally) to the 2014 Keanu Reeves-led ass kicking masterpiece.

He’s already talked about the Splinter Cell video game movie adaption and the Sicario prequel/sequel, and proving that sometimes we can get too much of a good thing he also spoke to Collider about another project he’s producing – Robin Hood: Origins.

Robin Hood is one of the most popular and enduring myths of our time, but for those of you who need a brief refresher:

Robin Hood was the legendary bandit of England who stole from the rich to help the poor. The stories about Robin appealed to common folk because he stood up against—and frequently outwitted—people in power. Furthermore, his life in the forest—hunting and feasting with his fellow outlaws, coming to the assistance of those in need—seemed like a great and noble adventure.

The movie has an excellent cast attached with Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx (Ray) as Little John, Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as The Sheriff of Nottingham and Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies) as Maid Marion. Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror) is on board to direct the script written by Joby Harold (Awake).

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Gosh, but there have already been so many Robin Hoods. The last Russell Crowe one, the Kevin Costner one with the song that was the bane of the ’90s, some TV show, the great animated Disney movie, Ivanhoe, and the hilarious Men in Tights.” Well, a brief trip to Wikipedia tells me that there have been 72 Robin Hood-based movie and TV adaptions over the years – with the earliest being the 1908 silent film Robin Hood and His Merry Men.

Russell Crowe in 2010's Robin Hood
Russell Crowe in 2010’s Robin Hood

This lead to Collider asking one very obvious question: what sets this new adaption apart from previous incarnations featuring the legendary outlaw?

Exempting the killer cast, I feel that it captures the adventure and the fun and the spirit of Robin Hood, but because it’s the origin story—it’s a kid going off to war thinking he’s going on a great Crusade, and realizing it’s all bullshit and coming back with some PTSD and realizing he’s been lied to, and coming back to kind of a fractured society that doesn’t really accept him and realizing, ‘Okay the super rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.’ You could describe that now.

What Joby Harold, our writer, was able to do is make it feel very allegorical and very contemporary, and feel youthful but not youthful in a YA way, youthful in a kind of, the anger, the energy, what people when they were 25 feel, without it being pandering like ‘Look, we’re the young version of the movie!’

As the saying goes actions speak louder than words – and in this case my action upon hearing that was to lower my head into my hands and sigh heavily. A few choice words might’ve slipped out too. The reason the character is adapted so regularly is because his essential story has always been “very allegorical and very contemporary”. It’s the conflict between the poor and downtrodden versus the rich and powerful, something that’s remained (and will sadly continue to remain) a contentious issue for centuries.

Iwanyk went on to talk briefly about how the action beats in Robin Hood: Origins are heavily inspired by the stylish action of John Wick:

The images of Robin Hood, the imagery we have, the production design, the stunt work that we’re doing—a lot of it was inspired by the John Wick stunt work. The stuff we’re doing with the bow and arrow, it’s the same thing that Keanu does with the gun. The costumes, it just feels different than any other Robin Hood we had.

The action in John Wick was excellent and I’m definitely not against other movies emulating that style, I’m just having a really hard time picturing it in a Robin Hood movie.

Errol Flynn in 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood
Errol Flynn in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood

He went on to reveal that Ben Mendelsohn’s casting as The Sheriff of Nottingham was far from a sure thing initially and that director Otto Bathurst worked hard to nail him down for the role:

Otto [Bathurst] is a star, our director. He’s a closer. Because that cast is sprawling. Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn and Taron Egerton, those are different muscles to flex. And Ben, who did not want to play a bad guy, after meeting Otto was just like ‘Oh my God this movie’s gonna be great. I’m all in.’ We had him right when Rogue One made a gazillion dollars so it was the last thing he wanted to do, but Otto closed him.

I have very mixed feelings after hearing this. There’s a lot I like about this adaption – mainly because of the excellent cast – but I’m worried they’ll get too carried away creating great action sequences and forget about the story. Seeing will definitely be believing for me when it comes to this adaption of the classic tale.

Right now one thing I’m hoping for is that Taron Egerton, who showed off a decent set of pipes in Sing, can be persuaded to give us a rendition of the best Robin Hood song. No Geoff, not Bryan Adams’ ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’, but Roger Miller’s ‘Robin Hood and Lil’ John’… because oo-de-lally oo-de-lally golly what a day that would be.

Am I being too negative? What do you you think?

Last Updated: February 3, 2017

  • PurplePariah

    Wait. Trevor? THE Trevor?

    Also, yeah seems like pandering to the teen crowd. I hope they don’t ruin Robin Hood like they did Vampires.

    • Hammersteyn

      Not his first article on CH either

      • PurplePariah

        Where the eff have I been? O_O

        • Dutch Matrix

          Unfollowing me… 😛

          • PurplePariah

            Wait who are you again? Didn’t I block you at one stage?

            😀

            *RUNS

          • Dutch Matrix

            Starting to think you are my first girlfriend I had in high school. That restraining order still hurts in the feels… XD

      • Original Heretic

        They’re far and few between, though.

        I’m curious: does he have to hate something enough to write an article about it? 😛

  • I would seriously rather want another Robin Hood:Men in Tights.

    • Hammersteyn

      Classic movie

    • PurplePariah

      2nd best in the myriad of movies. And only because I like Russel Crowe as an actor. XD

    • Original Heretic

      But they HAVE to be tight tights.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Mel Brooks is only 90… I’m sure he could pull off another one.

  • Hammersteyn

    “Origins are heavily inspired by the stylish action of John Wick” Yeah, the new yardstick

  • Hammersteyn

    “Am I being too negative?” Yes, stay out of the comment section for a week. Things will look better afterwards 😛

  • Original Heretic

    Jeez, seems every second movie coming out these days wants to suck off John’s Wick.
    Typical Hollywood crap: take a successful formula that worked in one particular movie and then apply it to countless other movies in totally different genres. And hope that it works.
    And after the 5th movie with the same formulaic shit DOESN’T work, they start scratching their heads in befuddlement.

    • PurplePariah

      Tell that to Activision.

      • Original Heretic

        I would, but the games they make generally don’t appeal to me.

        So… FUCK’EM!

  • Admiral Chief
    • Original Heretic

      Really really? If so, he’s older than me! Whoa….

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