In the film
After King Richard's departure for the Crusade and during Prince John's rule with his new Sheriff of Nottingham at his side, taxes are being levied throughout the countryside and Sherwood Forest serves as the one hideaway of one man named Robin Hood and his band of Merrie Men including his cousin, Will Scarlet, who are more than willing to fight back against the injustice.
A few days later, it is in the forest where Robin Fitzooth's father, Hugh Fitzooth was murdered by Red Gill for defying the Sheriff then later avenged before Robin became the outlaw leader known as Robin Hood. In the forest, the Sheriff and his men capture a poacher named Will Stutely for killing a King's deer since the Sheriff starved him and Robin is able to witness this and send the message for his men with whistle arrows. The forest becomes the new home of the Sheriff's former prisoners rescued by Robin and his men: Scathelock and Stutely, now new members of the Merrie Men.
Then, it is there where Robin Hood meets, duels, and loses to a man named John Little, later christened "Little John" by Will Scarlet and the men. Somewhere in the forest lies an abbey called Alford Abbey where Robin meets and duels with a priest named Friar Tuck until they are ambushed by the Sheriff and his men. Later, Robin calls for his men with his hunting horn and all of the Sheriff's men are killed by the Merrie Men and the Sheriff himself is captured and taken back to Robin's lair in Sherwood Forest where he is to be forced to drink and eat to King Richard's health, pay the taxes for all the troubles he caused, and later, sent away while being made a spectacle out of by Robin's men.
Two years have passed, King Richard's Crusade has ended in failure, and the King finds himself imprisoned in Austria to be held for a ransom of 100,000 marks. Maid Marian, Robin Hood's childhood playmate and love interest and the Queen's servant left in her care during her father's absence, leaves the castle, disguised as a page boy to find Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest to convince Queen Eleanor of Robin and his men's loyalty and honesty since Prince John has convinced his Queen mother and the Archbishop of Canterbury otherwise. During the journey, she is joined by Allan-a-Dale and Midge the Miller. Once at Sherwood Forest, they encounter Robin Hood, Little John, and Will Scarlet. The outlaws make Midge pay some money and Allan-a-Dale sing a tune while Marian tries to stop them. Robin is delighted when he finds out that the page boy is none other than Maid Marian and decides to bring her and her friends back to their lair. Knowing of the Prince and the Sheriff's lies and treachery, Robin and his men generously and honorably donate as much money as they can to pay the ransom and ensure the King's safe return. Through the forest, Robin and Friar Tuck escort Maid Marian for shelter at Alford Abbey for the night while Allan-a-Dale sings a love song about Robin and Marian.
After Queen Eleanor and the Archbishop acquire all the money needed to pay for King Richard's return, it is through Sherwood Forest where they convey the ransom only to be stopped by Prince John's men disguised as Robin's men. Luckily, through Stutely's warning, Robin and his real men arrive just in time to stop the attack and allow the Queen and Archbishop to continue with their journey after discovering the deception and Maid Marian's true whereabouts since Prince John actually imprisoned her in the dungeon when he knows she has been fraternizing with the outlaws and could see through his deception, thus, jeopardize his plan.
A few days later, at Robin's lair back in Sherwood Forest, after foiling Prince John and vanquishing the Sheriff once and for all, Robin Hood is wounded and sick, thus, forced to reluctantly stay in bed in a cave and eat broth and barley at Friar Tuck and Maid Marian's insistence while Allan-a-Dale and the men join along to sing and dance about Robin's recovery, King Richard's safe return, and Prince John's upcoming mocking fate. Then, a mysterious black rider appears in Sherwood Forest. The rider says he seeks Robin Hood, thus, making Robin Hood suspect he could be one of Prince John's men and then forcing the rider to take off his hood.
To avoid misunderstandings, the rider reveals himself to be in fact, King Richard, whose ransom has been paid and who has returned safely to England. Not wanting his apology for his rash behavior and indebted to his good deed and that of his men, King Richard knights and dubs Robin, the Earl of Locksley. When King Richard spots Maid Marian, wearing an outlaw's disguise, he tells her that her father awaits her at Huntingdon where the Queen vows to marry her to the Earl of Locksley. At first, Marian seems shocked since she remains oblivious to the fact that Robin Hood is in fact the Earl she is to marry until the King reveals him to her.
Robin and Maid Marian share a kiss as they prepare to be married while Allan-a-Dale happily sings and dances away from Sherwood Forest into the sunset.