These days, summer is synonymous with comic book films and while most of those feature high-octane, spandex-clad characters published by Marvel or DC (okay, mostly Marvel), this summer brings us a decidedly different kind of comic film: Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Thus far, Scott Pilgrim has existed in a series of 5 digest-sized, black and white volumes, with the sixth and final volume to be released July 20, 2010. But when August rolls around, he’ll make his feature film debut in the highly anticipated adaptation from director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). From what we’ve seen so far, this film is set to knock our socks off, along with the collective socks of the rest of the filmgoing world. It’s still a couple of months off, but now seems like as good a time as any to tell you why we think Scott Pilgrim is going to be the big hit of the summer.
To say that Scott Pilgrim is a slacker would be a bit simple, though definitely true. He’s 23, self-absorbed, unemployed and regularly sponges off his friends and roommate. Oh, and he also plays bass in a band and at the beginning of the story, is dating a high-school student. Yeah.
All of this changes when Ramona Flowers, quite literally the girl of Scott’s dreams, enters his life. He falls in love but in order to date her, he must defeat her seven evil exes. But you got all of that from the trailer, right? So there’s really no point in repeating it here. But that’s the general gist of the story and since the little header up there says “what it’s all about”, we kind of had to go over the basics.
But what it’s really all about is growing up and accepting responsibility. It’s about the trials and tribulations of dating and the highs and lows of love and all that confusing crap in-between. It’s about coming to terms with your own emotional baggage as well as that of the person you love. While it focuses on hip 20-somethings, the themes are universal and easily recognizable by anyone and everyone who has ever lived and loved… especially if you’ve loved video games and pop culture.
Because it’s really cool. As we said just a few sentences earlier, even if the style and music doesn’t suit you, the basic ideas contained within should appeal to everyone. And if you like video games and comic books, even better. Nobody reading this is into video games or comic books, right? Scott Pilgrim is obsessed with them and lives in a world in which drama and heartache go hand-in-hand with Street Fighter-esque battles, Looney Tunes style special effects and victory over your girlfriend’s evil ex’s gives you coins, one-ups or free lives. Somehow, creator Bryan Lee O’Malley manages to effortlessly blend disparate tones and topics into an engaging mix of humor, action and realism. And that’s why it’s cool.
Yeah, yeah… we know. We’re the same way. Look, we like to pride ourselves on being open to every variety of sequential art, from Little Orphan Annie to the New Gods, but when we hear the words “manga influenced art style”, we admit that we cringe a little. It’s not that we don’t respect it, but for whatever reason, it just hasn’t clicked with us yet. Call us old fogies: we just don’t get it.
But don’t let those dreaded words fool you or keep you away! While Scott Pilgrim definitely has an Eastern influence in terms of artistic style, it’s not so terribly off-putting that you can’t read it. In fact, it’s a testament to O’Malley’s skill that it took us about 2 panels to get over it and learn to love and embrace the art. The job of an illustrator is to tell a story and convel emotion, right? Well, O’Malley conveys so much emotion with so few lines, it’s hard to not respect his talent. And who knows? Maybe we’re turning a corner? We doubt that you’ll see us picking up Ranma ½ when we make our next jaunt to the comic shop, but one never knows…
So if you’re not into the comics, why would you want to see the movie? As far as we’re concerned, it can be boiled down to two words: Edgar Wright. You’ve seen Shaun of the Dead, right? And you’ve seen Hot Fuzz, haven’t you? Some of you may have even watched Spaced. Okay… so you know the guy has skill behind the camera and you know he’s got respect for geek culture ‘cause he’s one of us. If you’ve seen the trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (and unless you’ve been living under a rock or purposefully stayed away from it, we know you’ve seen the trailer), then you’ve noticed that Wright is staying true to the look and feel of the comic and as created something that looks completely unique. In a summer filled with bland rehashes of Wild Wild West, revamps of television shows and armored avengers getting another go-round, Scott Pilgrim sticks out like a big, beautiful sore thumb. It’s completely original, and for that reason alone, we want to see it.
Romance? Check. Action? Check. Built-in audience? Check. Geek cred? Check. Indie music hipster cred? Check. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has got it all and we’re predicting it’s going to be the surprise smash hit of the summer… hell, it’s already made us not-so-sick of Michael Cera, which is a mean feat in and of itself.
In addition to contributing Comicscape and weekly comic book reviews to Mania.com, Chad Derdowski also participates in The Zod Complex, a weekly podcast discussion of comic books and geek culture. Find them at ZodComplex.com