An analysis of the rather obvious similarities between the basic settings (and physics) of the recently-released Zootopia movie, and that of 1973 animated movie Robin Hood, both by Disney.
ZOOTOPIA AND ROBIN HOOD
--a comparative analysis by BaltoSeppala--
Given the recent release of the Disney movie Zootopia, one might presume there would be a concurrent renewed interest in the much older Disney movie Robin Hood. Oddly, in spite of the very obvious similarities between the two fictional universes, it seems to not be the case. I find this unfortunate, as the two movies are ripe for fan-created crossovers as well as comparisons. Technically, it can be argued that the two animated universes are the same, just set in vastly different time periods (one medieval, the other ultramodern).
If you are interested, please read on as I attempt to break it down. Keep in mind that there are some minor spoilers in here pertaining to Zootopia so, if you haven't seen it yet, and are concerned about such things, then I suggest not continuing. Otherwise, read on and enjoy! And please let me know (in the comments) what you think!
The Two Universes
Superficially, apart from the differences in the time frames between the two movies (Robin Hood is set in a medieval English setting, and Zootopia is set in an ultramodern and presumably American setting), the physics and facets of both universes are practically identical:
- ---Both universes have anthropomorphic animals, of a variety of species, as sentient and civilized residents. Though, in one glaring difference, Zootopia's movie locations--the city of Zootopia and the country town where Judy Hopps grew up--are only populated by many different species of mammals, whereas the village of Nottingham and, presumably, all of England (and the rest of the world) in Robin Hood are populated not only by many different species of mammals, but also by birds and reptiles. And, unlike Zootopia, the Robin Hood movie also features a variety of domestic dog breeds and farm animals. In Zootopia, we get hints of domestic farm animals mostly in the form of sheep and pigs. There are no apparent domestic dog breeds (or those of other real-world pet animals) seen in Zootopia;
- ---It is POSSIBLE that sentient and civilized birds and reptiles do exist in the Zootopia universe, but that they may simply live in other places. The movie never suggests or even states that they don't exist. Nor that sentient and civilized forms of domestic animals don't (mammalian or otherwise). About the only life forms we DON'T see, represented among the populations of both movie universes, are amphibians, insects (as well as arachnids and other similar forms), fish, and worms & such. Perhaps, for the carnivores in both universes, these are their food sources. Unless they've all resorted to a vegetarian diet;
- ---The most glaring lack of mammalian presence in both universes is that of any form of primates. This, I firmly believe, is meant to demonstrate the lack of humans; that the line of primates, if they existed in either universe, would eventually give rise to humans. So, there are no lemurs, no aye-ayes, no lorises, no tamarins, no marmosets, no tarsiers, no monkeys, no gibbons, no orangutans, no chimpanzees, no bonobos, and no gorillas. And certainly no humans.
Nick Wilde and Robin Hood
Okay, so Nick Wilde is not actually the protagonist of Zootopia (Judy Hopps is), but he is a primary supporting character and, even if you haven't seen the movie yet, you can tell from the trailers that he ends up being a pretty good guy. Typical of a fox character, he has the cleverness, the mischievousness, and the quick wit you'd expect. Sure, he starts off as a dishonest, even somewhat manipulative thief and con man. But his backstory (presented in the movie) shows a boy fox who very much wants to be a good guy and a hero. And, by the end of the movie, with Judy's help, he gets to live that dream. Even during the movie, the basic goodness of the character comes out, and he shows himself to be a more or less honorable thief. But unlike Robin Hood (at least as that character is portrayed in Disney's earlier movie), Nick Wilde clearly goes through a major character arc, and we see him struggle with the very nature of who and what he is, as opposed to what might have been and maybe still could be. It's a great story!
Now, in Disney's Robin Hood movie, we don't get to see the backstory of its protagonist, the fox character Robin Hood. We only ever see him during his young adulthood, in his own role as an honorable thief and bandit, "borrowing from those who can afford it", which he then distributes to the poor folk of the village of Nottingham. He still has the cleverness, the mischievousness and the quick wit of a fox. And, like Nick Wilde, may even be considered something of a con man. Though he doesn't prey upon merchants and the common folk, but only the rich. And he's quite a heroic and good-hearted fellow. The unresolved possibilities for the character encompass all the questions we have pertaining to his past, as well as what will come of his marriage to Maid Marian and any children they may have. Frankly, I've envisioned him (for the possibility of fan fiction material) as an ancestor of Nick Wilde!
Judy Hopps and Skippy
Okay, so the comparison here is a bit more tenuous. Certainly Judy Hopps is the protagonist of the Zootopia movie. There is no doubt about that. She's the heroine, and she also has a great deal to go through in the movie, including learning from her own mistakes (and she makes them). But she's also got a bright, chipper and even slightly snarky personality, and is really quite an entertaining character! Hers is a very well-constructed story! But just like Skippy, the boy rabbit from Robin Hood, we see Judy in her youth, dreaming of being a police officer and doing good. And we also learn of the obstacles she must overcome to get there. But she has a dream, and she's determined to see it become a reality! This is so much like the personality of Skippy!
Skippy, from Disney's Robin Hood movie, is only ever seen as a young boy, just having turned seven years of age. He's an energetic, enthusiastic kid, who idolizes Robin Hood and wants to grow up to be just like him. In this, we see the goals of the character as they are similar to Judy Hopps when she is just a kid. Now, unfortunately, we don't get to see Skippy grow up and live out his dreams. But, at the end of the movie, he does ride off with Robin, Maid Marian and Little John, which leaves a wide open door for what we can all presume are future adventures, where Skippy and even any potential sons or daughters of Robin and Marian become a new gang of "merry men"!
Mayor Leodore Lionheart and King Richard The Lionheart
Well, even right off the bat, the similarities (even in just their names) imply a connection...even if it wasn't at all intended by the writers of Zootopia: the "Lionheart" name/title. Whether there is some unofficial or subtle connection in this is a question worthy of consideration and further discussion. But the two characters play similar roles. We see, firstly, Mayor Leodore Lionheart, in Zootopia, as a confident and outspoken leader of the city of Zootopia. He exudes power, confidence and pride, befitting an African lion. And while he falls into scandal during the course of the movie, he is subsequently exonerated and resumes his post as mayor, proving himself to be a good and honorable character!
King Richard "The Lionheart", of course, is the rightful King of England in the Robin Hood movie, and a character of impeccable nobility. He carries himself in a regal manner very typical of the English nobility (and again, also befitting an African lion), and is a master of the spoken word and of etiquette. Of course, we don't get to see very much of him during the movie, until the closing scene (we get to see rather more of Leodore Lionheart in Zootopia). But even when he doesn't appear on screen, characters are talking about him. So he is a formidable presence...beloved by the citizens of Nottingham, who are loyal to him. Even Robin Hood fights for him, and becomes his nephew-in-law at the end of the movie by marrying Maid Marian (we must presume, therefore, that Marian is a step-niece of King Richard, as there is no way a fox could be born into a lion family). King Richard, however, is presented as a good-hearted and heroic character.
Are Leodore Lionheart and King Richard The Lionheart related through a long family line? Was that just a coincidence, using the "Lionheart" title and giving it to characters that are both African lions? An interesting question to ponder.
And, in the grander scheme, can we consider Zootopia to be a modern-day version of the Robin Hood world? It is very possible, as there are so many incidental (and perhaps even intentional) similarities which are hard to ignore or dismiss. The questions remaining to be answered are many of course...like whether or not mammals are the only creatures in Zootopia who are sentient and civilized, or if there are enclaves and population centers of birds and/or reptiles elsewhere in that world. Perhaps a Zootopia sequel will resolve those! And, of course, there are plenty of open opportunities for fan art and fan fiction! Right?