Robin and Marian (1976): Some characters are so vivid it’s hard thinking of them as made-up. Traditionally that’s where fan fiction comes in, but sometimes real people play this game, too. James Goldman, the author of The Lion in Winter, sketched this lovely portrait of Robin Hood (Sean Connery) and Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn) in middle age, struggling to reconnect after he returns from the Crusades to find her in a nunnery. Director Richard Lester would return to the genre again: His last film was 1989’s The Return of the Musketeers, adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ Twenty Years After, proving that even the literary giants weren’t above fanboyish “What Ifs?"
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002): One of the more tolerable by-products of the “Elvis ain’t dead” craze postulates that the King (Bruce Campbell!) not only didn’t die but languished in a nursing home, where he battled mummies.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003): Among comic artist Alan Moore’s many brilliant ideas was a universe comprised of history’s literary characters, where the geriatric Allan Quatermain, Dracula’s ageless Mina Harker and others were recruited by MI6 as spies. There’s also a movie. Don’t watch it.
Saraband (2003): Perhaps Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson), the protagonists of Ingmar Bergman’s marital Thunderdome Scenes From a Marriage, aren’t as iconic as Robin Hood or Elvis. But they’re rich and believable enough that the filmmaker dusted them off for his final film, fomenting a reunion that would shock the orignal’s fans by not only being civil, but warm.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008): Harrison Ford, still kicking ass, somehow, at 66. He’s 69 now, with another Indy on the way. For some perspective: John Wayne was 68 when he made his action swan song, Brannigan, but at least Ford will hopefully be younger than Charles Bronson, who was 73 when he made the final Death Wish.
Blackthorn (2011): Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid, are so popular they inspired a 1969 film classic, a prequel—Richard Lester’s ill-fated Butch and Sundance: The Early Years —and now a low-rent oater that suggests Cassidy not only wasn’t killed but grew up to be played by Sam Sheppard.
Matt Damon delivers in "The Martian"