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'Robin Hood' at Cannes Film Festival: 'Batman Begins' meets 'Men in Tights'

Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' made its debut Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie takes a page from other Hollywood 'prequels,' but how far is too far when Hollywood rewrites popular myths?

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Russell Crowe in a scene from Ridley Scott's new adaptation of 'Robin Hood,' which premieres Wednesday night at the Cannes Film Festival.

David Appleby/Universal Pictures/AP

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Russell Crowe leaped onscreen Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival with the latest version of “Robin hood,” but will not sport green tights, a jaunty cap, nor joust with Friar Tuck or compete in an archery competition.

That’s because this Ridley Scott extravaganza is set in the days before the hero became known as the champion of the poor.

This taste for prequels hews closely to the current Hollywood mania for peeking into the origins of well-loved heroes. Everyone from Batman to Darth Vader, King Arthur, and Superman – even Gollum – has had back stories thoroughly deconstructed and put onscreen.

IN PICTURES: Cannes Film Festival

Some, like “Batman Begins” with Christian Bale, are great hits. But Clive Owen and Keira Knightly flopped in a deep history of King Arthur, and some would argue that the only good thing about the three Star Wars prequels were the final 20 minutes that gave birth to Darth Vader. So when should a prologue remain mercifully hidden, and when does unearthing mythmaking clay become movie gold?

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