Sign up for our weekly newsletter

10 Years Later: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

25 August 20 words: George White

After initially flopping at the box office, Edgar Wright's comic book adaptation now has a cult following. George White explains why...

Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
Running time: 112 minutes

It’s been 10 years since the release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, making it a decade since one of the most criminally underlooked movies of all time hit the big screen. Despite (rightfully) boasting something of a cult following now, the Michael Cera-led action-comedy amassed only $47 million at the worldwide box office, making it a monumental flop that finished its opening weekend below the likes of The Expendables and Eat Pray Love

Thankfully, in the years since, audiences have warmed to the film to the point where there are rumours of a potential sequel, with movie fans slowly appreciating that - despite its flaws - Scott Pilgrim is an absolute blast from start to finish. Scott may have failed to take over the world on his first try, but he’s made a damn good effort of it since. 

Director Edgar Wright can take the majority of the credit for Pilgrim’s sheer enjoyability. While Marvel and DC have come to dominate the world of comic book movies, Wright’s relentless creativity ensures his movie outperforms all others in terms of authenticity and playfulness. 

No other film has managed to project the sensation of reading a comic book onto the big screen in the same way as Scott Pilgrim, with each amusing character introduction and dynamic camera transition making the audience feel as though they are experiencing the source material in a new dimension. 

Wright’s visual work also leads to some thoroughly enjoyable set pieces, with every fight scene brimming with unpredictability and ingenuity. The Englishman has always had a knack for producing thrilling action sequences - the guy managed to turn a tranquil rural village into the site of an epic bloodbath in Hot Fuzz - and he makes full use of his creative license this time around, forcing our protagonist to battle the seven evil exes using guitar solos, flying karate kicks and a giant flaming sword. It’s insane, but ridiculously entertaining.

A financial failure, maybe, but an impressive filmmaking feat nonetheless

Wright’s visual work also leads to some thoroughly enjoyable set pieces, with every fight scene brimming with unpredictability and ingenuity. The Englishman has always had a knack for producing thrilling action sequences - the guy managed to turn a tranquil rural village into the site of an epic bloodbath in Hot Fuzz - and he makes full use of his creative license this time around, forcing our protagonist to battle the seven evil exes using guitar solos, flying karate kicks and a giant flaming sword. It’s insane, but ridiculously entertaining. 

Every ex is a highlight throughout the movie, each bringing a fresh challenge to our hero and injecting a new dynamic when things could become stale. While the film features the likes of Chris Evans and Brie Larson, both of whom have become global megastars since its release, it is Brandon Routh’s Todd Ingram that is most memorable, his vegan extremism causing ludicrous challenges for Scott and a tonne of laughs for the audience. 

Michael Cera also puts in a fantastic performance as the leading man, his trademark blend of cringe-inducing awkwardness and hilarious line delivery making him a delight to watch. While the integrity of his character is certainly questionable - Scott’s treatment of Knives is inexcusable, and his desperation to pursue Ramona Flowers is never fully justified - Cera feels like perfect casting, so much so that it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. 

Where the film arguably falters is in its scriptwriting, which has been criticised for a perceived lack of depth. Yet, while these criticisms are undoubtedly valid, the simplicity of the script feels necessary to promote the main strengths of the film. Scott Pilgrim never promises a deep, analytical study of the human psyche; it is about a guy who fancies a girl and has to take several beatings to win her over. The basic foundations of the film are perhaps elementary, but the execution is utterly captivating. 

It may have taken years for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World to receive the credit it deserves, but over time audiences have come around the once-discarded box office flop. Through Wright’s unique directorial style, Scott Pilgrim manages to transfer the joy of comic book consumption to the big screen, bringing with it an incredible cast and stunning visuals in the meantime. A financial failure, maybe, but an impressive filmmaking feat nonetheless.

Did you know? Whenever the moon is shown, it is full and there is a hole in it. Ramona's third boyfriend, Todd Ingram, is mentioned in flashback to have punched the hole there for her when they dated.

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now