Director Otto Bathurst's new take on Robin Hood, starring Taron Egerton as the charming thief with a heart of gold, ends on a pretty major twist regarding Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan) and the Sheriff of Nottingham. After Robin and Little John (Jamie Foxx) successfully manage to kill the original Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn) - stringing him up by the neck in a church - a new Sheriff takes over his role. That Sheriff is none other than Will, one of Robin's loyal Merry Men in the original stories, who becomes his mortal enemy in Bathurst's film.
When we first meet Will Scarlet in the movie, he enters stage left and swoops in to kiss Maid Marian (Eve Hewson), who has been tricked by the Sheriff into believing that Robin died in the Crusades. Robin is naturally devastated at the sight, and at John's behest he spends much of the movie keeping Marian at arm's length, not telling her about his secret life as "the Hood." In the movie's climactic final battle, however, Robin and Marian are finally reconciled and share a passionate kiss... which Will Scarlet unfortunately witnesses.
An irate Will, who has been wounded and disfigured during the fight, refuses to flee to the woods with Robin and the other Merry Men. Robin and Marian reluctantly leave him, and make off with the riches that they stole back from the Sheriff of Nottingham. However, just when it seems like things are going to wrap up neatly, Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) returns in voiceover to reveal that this perfect ending isn't quite what it seems. The movie cuts to Will having a clandestine meeting with the Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham), who had been conspiring with the Sheriff of Nottingham to sabotage the war effort. With the original Sheriff gone, the Cardinal needs a new man in Nottingham on his side, and Will hates Robin enough to take the job.
This is quite an about-face for Will, who throughout the movie has served as the voice of the people - attempting to lead Nottingham's miners in peaceful opposition to the Sheriff's tyranny. It could be fairly argued that it's far-fetched for Will to sell out all of his beliefs and become a scar-faced villain just because he saw someone kissing his girlfriend. However, it could also be argued that Robin himself created this monster by convincing Will to abandon his plans for a peaceful retreat in favor of an all-out assault on the Sheriff's men.
The twist is obviously designed to set up a sequel that pits Robin against Will Scarlet... though given that Robin Hood is expected to gross a mere $15 million over the Thanksgiving weekend, that sequel probably isn't going to happen. That's really a pity; Dornan didn't have much to do as the third corner of a love triangle, but portraying Will Scarlet as not only a villain, but Robin Hood's greatest enemy, would have put a very interesting twist on a familiar tale.