Scott Pilgrim is a six-part graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which was adapted into the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The titular Scott (portrayed in the movie by Michael Cera) is an unemployed Canadian in his early twenties who, at the start of the series, is dating a high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). As a slacker, a mooch, and all-around self-centered young man, Scott’s relationship is one of convenience rather than a true emotional connection. His life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl of his dreams… literally.
While both the books and the film start off like any other story about young twenty-somethings, it soon becomes clear that there is a fantastical element to the Scott Pilgrim universe. I personally saw the film before reading the graphic novels. It all seemed like a fairly standard indie comedy, when all of a sudden, a young man burst through the roof and engaged Scott in a stylized, arcade game-esque fight. The combatant then broke into a Bollywood-style song while demonstrating magic powers and summoning “demon hipster chicks”. Scott’s sister, played by Anna Kendrick, had the same response that I did upon my first viewing:
The world of Scott Pilgrim is one that I would describe as magic realism — in general, it follows the same rules as our universe, but also includes certain fantastical elements (that normally go unremarked upon by the characters). Edgar Wright used this to his advantage in his direction of the film, especially in the fight sequences which use a video game-inspired aesthetic. The visual style helped heighten these moments of fantasy in the film. Meanwhile, the books have more instances of and references to magical powers, but they appear more subtly than those shown on-screen.
The main plot of the book series and film is that Scott must fight and defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes if he wants to date her. In the movie, the actors portraying the exes include Chris Evans, Mae Whitman, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman. You can tell that all of the actors are having a blast playing such over-the-top characters. While I adore Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, one thing that I prefer about the graphic novels is the further exploration of all of the side characters. The movie mainly sticks to the members of his band, Sex Bob-Omb, (played by Mark Webber and Alison Pill); his sister (Kendrick); his roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin); ex-girlfriend Envy (Brie Larson); and a few other friends (Johnny Simmons and Aubrey Plaza). The graphic novel series includes six volumes, which allows for more time to learn about these characters, meet new ones, and see how they all relate to and interact with one another.
I love Scott Pilgrim. I love both the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and the film adaptation by Edgar Wright. The movie was actually in development before the final volume of the graphic novel series was finished, so there are several differences in their respective endings. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has become a cult hit among the geek community with its many references to video games and pop culture. But there are so many story lines in the books that are merely hinted at or are completely absent from the film. The world and characters of Scott Pilgrim are so fun and interesting, and beg to be revisited. If you have only experienced them in one medium, I definitely recommend you check out the other.
Disclaimer: All images shown belong to Oni Press and Universal Pictures, the use of which have not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner(s). This blog post is for non-commercial criticism and comment purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law.