S is for Scott Pilgrim

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.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) movie poster (via IMDB)

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.

Scott Pilgrim poster drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley and colored by Rico Renzi (via Rico’s DeviantArt)

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.

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9 thoughts on “S is for Scott Pilgrim

  1. LOVE Scott Pilgrim. The first thing I did when I finished book 6? Picked up book 1 and started back at the beginning.

    Like you I saw the movie first, and the one other thing I would add about that is the music! Which is amazing, and which matters, because they’re totally in a band. I have the soundtrack and the score, because I’m only slightly obsessed…

    I’m holding off on re-reading the comics until the complete color editions are out, then I plan on getting those and reading again!

    The magical realism (totally the right genre) is bumped up a few notches in the comic… Scott Pilgrim is known to be the best fighter in the province. In the movie, everyone seems a bit more surprised by this!

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, ah yes, the music is fantastic! They got a lot of cool musicians to work on it (like Beck). I also have the soundtrack 🙂 Yeah, I am definitely looking forward to a box set of the color version. As always, thanks for reading and sharing!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you loved the Scott Pilgrim comics, you should also check out O’Malley’s latest, Seconds. I really enjoyed it. It has the same “flavor” as Scott Pilgrim, but the story is a bit darker/more mature while still being light hearted. And he throws in some Scott Pilgrim call backs, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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