Scott Pilgrim vs. Every Other Comic Movie Ever

By | May 27th, 2009
Posted in Columns | % Comments

The first place I ever saw anything about Scott Pilgrim was a few years ago at the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska. Scott McCloud was speaking to a small but captive audience about understanding comics, and he used an interview with Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley and a page from the first volume of the series (titled Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life) to demonstrate the comic book artform. Off that one page, a simple page of Scott and roommate Wallace Wells riding on a bus talking about how Scott was dating a high schooler, had me hooked, and I received the series for Christmas to fill my desire to read them. After reading the first four, they quickly moved into the upper echelons of my “favorite comics” list.

Fast forward a few years, and we’ve received the penultimate fifth book of the saga (similarly high quality as the previous four) and the fantastic news that there is a movie going to be made starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright titled Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s coming out in 2010, and after looking into it, I’m completely and utterly convinced that it will be the best comic book movie ever, save possibly the Dark Knight. Here’s five reasons why:

1. The Cast

When a comic book movie is being made, a lot of the hype and attention from fanboys goes to who gets cast as who in each role. Scott Pilgrim is no different, and from my point of view, it has been impeccably cast so far. Michael Cera as our goofy and aloof hero is about as good of a choice as you can come up with, as the character is pretty similar to his one in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist ultimately. His special lady friend Ramona Flowers was also really well cast, with cute as all hell Mary Elizabeth Winstead filling the role. In terms of looks, she’s perfect for the role, but the biggest question with her is how are her acting chops? She’s never really had to stretch too much before, but I guess it’s good that she’s playing the mysterious and ever-changing Flowers then.

The key to the movie (and you could argue the books as well) is in the supporting cast, however. In that regard, this movie is remarkably well cast. The standout is Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, who is the best actor in the cast and a person who is perfect for the role of Scott’s gay party boy best friend. This guy is one of the most underrated actors out there, and is going to knock it out of the park. Having fun actors like Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman in as evil exes of Ramona is quite the coup as well.

The rest of the cast is filled with relative unknowns (and Plant from Arrested Development!), but I think that was an exciting and smart choice by all involved. This is the type of movie where you need a bit of authenticity to it, which isn’t something that is easily filled by movie stars. Plus, it’s super Canadian. Gotta keep it real, people.

2. Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright is the man.

There really isn’t anything else you can say about the guy, as his career has been spotless so far in my mind. Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz are all major successes in terms of creatively and from a pop culture standpoint, and the guy just gets it. Everything in his career so far makes him look a pop culture contemporary of Bryan Lee O’Malley, a guy who adds to the social consciousness by harkening back to everything that made it great to begin with. I really don’t think there is a single director in the world I would prefer to be making this movie.

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3. Keeping Bryan Lee O’Malley involved

From the get go, Wright has kept Pilgrim creator O’Malley involved. He pretty much had to, as the movie is going to run through the whole story and O’Malley hasn’t wrapped it up yet, but the fact that O’Malley is helping with visuals and the actors with characters is a huge reassurance.

Movies like the Dark Knight or Iron Man work because they feel like brand new issues of our favorite characters, telling us new stories that capture everything that is right about our beloved universe. Because of that, keeping creators involved can be a detriment, as it reduces the unique vision the filmmakers may have. However, with a movie like Pilgrim where they are trying to follow the story closely, you need the creator involved to accurately capture the story cinematically, otherwise you could lose the feel of the story (i.e. Watchmen with no Alan Moore). Keeping O’Malley involved is a great step in making this movie all it can be.

4. Attention to detail

Recently, I came across Edgar Wright’s flickr photostream and was completely blown away. He’s sharing production pictures aplenty from the set of SPVTW and they are completely and utterly awesome. Not only are the pictures fun and completely capture the spirit of the comics, but their attention to detail is brilliant.

Look at the picture above, and you can completely visualize Ramona’s costume, complete with her star bag, crazy hip clothing, and roller blades. Look to the right and imagine walking into your local record store to pick up the new Clash at Demonhead album. That’s the kind of attention for detail that you want in this movie, not only capturing the spirit but creating this universe, a world where we level up, a world where hot women carry big hammers, a world where you have to battle evil ex-boyfriends to get the girl of your dreams.

They’ve created all of that and more, and with a simple photostream, I’m sold completely.

5. Ummm…best comics ever?

Let’s be real here. Every movie that is adapted from a brilliant source has a head start (or in terms of Scott Pilgrim, brilliant source = +2 to plot, +3 to characters) in the race to awesomeness. Given that Scott Pilgrim is definitely a top fiver for my all time favorite comics (that’s Preacher, Y the Last Man, Fables, Bone, and then this thank you very much), to say I am excited is an understatement. The fact that the story seems to naturally translate well to film and that everything else is going so swimmingly really just seals it.

This movie is going to be everything I want from a comic book movie, and it will be your next favorite movie.

Trust me.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World comes out some time in 2010 from Universal Pictures.

David Harper