Comic book movies are by no means unique in this day and age. There are so many of them that you’d almost think that comic books and Hollywood studios are the same thing. Of course, in some ways they are given that the biggest comic book producers, Marvel and DC Comics, are both owned by major Hollywood studios (DC by Warner Brothers and Marvel more recently by Disney). However when it comes to comics, they are by no means the only game in town. You’ve got The Walking Dead being published by Image, Hellboy and R.I.P.D. and many others by Dark Horse, and of course Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Oni Press.
What all these comics have in common, obviously, is that they have been or are being adapted into feature films or in the case of The Walking Dead, a TV show. But I think one of the things that might make Scott Pilgrim different is that in a way it’s not just a comic book adaptation. In a way it’s also a video game adaptation. This is where things start to get interesting because as much as comic book adaptations have a bad reputation in the filmmaking community video games have an even worse reputation. A reputation that is not entirely undeserved. Many video game adaptations have gone horribly wrong in their transitions from game console to (most often) large scale live action film.
Going into this film then, I can certainly understand why people might not rush out to see it since just those two things already creates two strikes against it. Unfortunately for those that didn’t (in which I count myself), those two strikes are part of the reason you should have seen it, particularly if you grew up in that bit of a sweet spot era when comic books and video games were a central figure of your childhood. The film manages to blend those two worlds together almost seamlessly while not taking away from the reality of the film elements of today. Having never read the comic book on which it’s based myself, I can’t really comment on just how faithful it stays to the comic book or the video games for which it makes numerous references throughout, but from what I can gather the creator of the comics was heavily involved in the production of the film and he seems quite happy with it based on what I hear.
It strikes the right balance between the simple, quiet, character driven moments that are necessary for us to care about the characters we’re being introduced to, some of us for the first time, and the epic battle sequences that are littered throughout to ramp up the emotional adrenaline, all of which builds to the dramatic climax that both video game and comic book based films are often known for. The film is a visual masterpiece just in the way that all the graphics and special effects are more often than not a part of the story and enhance it in many ways. At its core though, the film is about an awkward teenager who falls in love with a woman that has a lot more baggage then he was probably expecting to deal with when he asked her out.
If you’ve ever been in love with someone you weren’t sure how to, you will understand this film. Or wished your life and relationships were a lot more fun than it is, you will understand this film. And if you’ve ever experienced both, then this movie is definitely for you.
So, in the epic battle of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, who wins? The audience wins.