Yesterday the trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs the World hit the internet and people freaked out. For good reason – the trailer is incredible, and it looks like Edgar Wright’s third film is just as much of a knockout as his last two. But even as people were getting psyched over the incredible visuals, many were also scratching their heads about Scott Pilgrim in general. While Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series is very popular, it’s nowhere near as popular as the Marvel or DC comics that have been getting steady adaptations the last decade, so here’s a quick and easy guide to Scott Pilgrim and his world for those intrigued by the trailer but without access to Wikipedia.
Scott Pilgrim is dating a high school girl. When the story opens 22 year old Scott (played by Michael Cera in the movie), a goofy Canadian slacker, is dating a 17 year old high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). His friends don’t approve, but it’s okay, since the relationship doesn’t last long – Scott soon meets the girl of his dreams. Literally.
Ramona Flowers is the girl of Scott’s dreams. Literally. Scott dreams about a girl who he ends up meeting in real life. American, his age, on roller blades and with dyed hair, Ramona Flowers is beautiful and cool and everything Scott wants (and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Ramona in the movie, appears to embody that perfectly). She also uses a subspace highway that runs through Scott’s head to speed up her deliveries for Amazon.ca. Things aren’t perfect with Ramona, though.
Scott must defeat Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes. It turns out that Ramona has a history. She has seven exes, and if Scott wants to date her, he must fight and defeat them all. Each defeated ex gives Scott experience points, and each defeated ex turns into a shower of coins. Each Ex is a Boss battle, leading up to the ultimate Boss of them all, Gideon (played by Jason Schwartzman in the movie). Scott has yet to battle Gideon – the books are only up to volume 5 of 6.
Scott’s in a band. Scott plays bass in Sex Bob-omb, a garage band. Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) is ‘the talent,’ and he plays guitar and sings. Kim Pine (Allison Pill), a witheringly sarcastic redhead who dated Scott in high school, is on drums. And Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) is their fan/roadie. Sex Bob-omb isn’t very good.
Scott sleeps with a guy. Having no job or income, Scott stays with his gay friend Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin). They share the same bed, although nothing gay goes on between them. Wallace is probably the great underrated character of the Scott Pilgrim comics, so I’m excited to see what Culkin does with him.
Scott can fight. Just go with it.
Scott Pilgrim is full of video game, music, comic and movie references. Bryan Lee O’Malley fills the pages of Scott Pilgrim with references to his many favorite things; Scott himself is named after a song by the Canadian girl band. Sex Bob-omb take their name from the walking bombs in the Mario Bros games. Scott wears a jacket with an X-Men X patch. The first Evil Ex, Matthew Patel, engages Scott in a Bollywood song and dance style.
Scott Pilgrim is great. There’s some resistance to Scott Pilgrim from some folks – the series is black and white, and in manga-sized volumes. There’s a feeling that Scott Pilgrim is somehow ‘hipster,’ which I guess means ‘not homoerotic muscle men hitting each other.’ The truth is that the books are smart, funny and often very sweet. O’Malley does very unconventional things with his story, and I’ve found Scott Pilgrim’s arc to be incredibly realistic and mature – especially for a book where battling robots at a party is no big deal.
The books and the movie diverge. Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall were writing their Scott Pilgrim movie while Bryan Lee O’Malley was still at volume 3 of his Scott Pilgrim series. As a result, the movie and the books veer away from each other about halfway through; while O’Malley was able to give Bacall and Wright some of his notes for the future volumes, don’t expect many of your favorite moments from books 4 or 5 to be in the movie. Which leads me to…
The book and the movie have totally different endings. Bryan Lee O’Malley has said that none of his final volume is in the movie, and I suspect that Scott may end up with different girls in the book and in the film. That makes for a very interesting adaptation, as there are two alternate versions of Scott and his story. And this also means that you should pick up the books without worrying about being spoiled. The final volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, hits stores July 20th. The movie is out August 13th.