Robin Hood is the premier English legendary hero. Which is somewhat frustrating, because there never has been a satisfactory depiction of the legend.
While the Scottish-English border had ballads which were in the first rank as poetry, the English mainland ballads of the Middle Ages were almost all about Robin Hood and his adventures - and were pitched, pretty much, at the level of Medieval pop songs or soap operas.
Yet Robin Hood does have a powerful and enduring appeal - what is the essence?
The setting is important - a pastoral idyll, a gang of friends living in the woods: marvellous.
Then there is the idea that each Merry Man has a different and complementary character and role.
Men's groups differentiate in this way spontaneously: there is always a wise and brave leader, a big strong slow one, a clown, a brainy one, a fat jolly one, a scary psychopath-berserker, a singer-poet; and since there may not be any very good examples of these types in a particular group, the men just do their best (e.g. the clown may not actually be funny - but there will nonetheless always be a clown; the brainy one may not really be very smart - but he only needs to be a bit smarter than the others).
For me, Robin Hood was blended with Red Indians - specifically the Hiawatha type who lived in the North East Woodlands of the US, around the Great Lakes, or in New England.
So I liked the elements of woodcraft, hunting, making stuff from bark, thongs and sinews, being able to stalk silently - without cracking a twig.
At the heart of the story is the heroic idea of being in just rebellion against unjust rule - Robin Hood is not really an 'outlaw', since it is the rulers (King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham) who flout the law.
The Merry Men are merely trying to restore the rightful King.
And then there is the idea (which I think Walter Scott propagated) that Robin Hood (maybe himself an aristocrat gone native) is leading Anglo Saxon rebels against the Norman oppressor.
So there is enough and more ingredients here for a genuine folk hero; but even at its root there is an element of playful holiday make-believe about Robin Hood, which deprives the Robin Hood tales of the dignity and depth of the Arthurian legends.