Every so often a comic book adaptation comes along that blows all the others out the water. Usually, it’s one of the big boys, a truly spectacular superhero interpretation, like Chris Nolan’s Batman films.
This time, the superheroes are taking a back seat to geeky Scott Pilgrim, the obscure comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, turned into a genuine movie phenomenon Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, that’s had the internet comic book community buzzing like it’s half-price day at Forbidden Planet.
This month has also been the highlight of the comic community with the San Diego convention Comic Con, in which director Edgar Wright has been transformed into a god, holding court while his film premiered to the highest praise of all – the approval of fans of the original source material which, incidentally, is just about the best, and most original take on the rise of the slacker hero around.
But why is everyone jumping feet first onto the Scott Pilgrim bandwagon? What makes him so goddam special?
1. Michael Cera is our leader
From the moment Michael Cera arrived on our screens as the stuttering, amusingly monikered George Michael Bluth, a harassed teen desperately in love with his much hotter cousin in Arrested Development, a special relationship began between actor and audience. Cera’s endearing wide eyed charm, though, is several steps up from the uber geeks of the eighties and nineties.
See, unlike Anthony Michael Hall, girls actually fall for Cera, a two fingers up to convention from computer nerds everywhere. Not only has he embodied the nature of uncompromised geeky self assurance, he’s also managed, with Scott Pilgrim, to achieve the near-impossible task of turning a wimpy slacker into a genuine ass-kicking hero – and we’re buying it. We’re probably just minutes away from the backlash of a lifetime, but for now, bow down to the King of CrazyGeekyCool.
2. It’s a 21st century geek makeover
Not only has Michael Cera done his part for nerd power, the character of Scott Pilgrim himself is the ultimate stereotype-crusher (again, unlike John Hughes alumnus Anthony Michael Hall). Watch Scott Pilgrim as he bams, pows and wallops his way through the girl of his dreams’ seven evil ex boyfriends the way it ought to be done – with sly quips and genuinely wicked humour sufficing where superpowers would fail. It’s been described as Twilight for boys, but chances are there’ll be a hefty number of grown men drooling, ticket in hand, to see it too.
3. Edgar Wright is basically god
Occasionally in the world of movies, a script and director are in such perfect alignment, it almost makes you believe in god. Wright may only have two other films to his credit, (the fantastic Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead) but he’s without a doubt the perfect fanboy to bring Scott Pilgrim to life.
His imagination is boundless, his depth of musical, film and gaming references uniquely vast for someone presumably not still a virgin. If you haven’t watched his TV show Spaced with stupid smile of recognition on your face then this movie really isn’t for you. But if you have, and you’ve read the comics, you’ll agree that his loyalty to the cartoonish style that keeps a graphic novel adaptation from becoming just another movie is practically celestial.
4. It’s pop culture reference heaven
There’s nothing like “getting” a reference in a movie to make you feel like you’re a member of an exclusive club, and the film (and the comic) is an endless, epic and energetic dance through an minefield of cultural explosions. Like John Hughes movies? He’s in there, alongside Nintendo for gamers, Manga, Star Wars (obviously), all sorts of classic kung fu movie moments, musicals and homages to superheores of the past. You could probably make a drinking game out of it.
5. It shoots, it scores
Musically, this is hitting all the right notes, even if you are just a little fatigued at the thought of Radiohead adding yet more edge to something that wouldn’t survive without their magic touch. Luckily, this doesn’t qualify, and we’re treated to movie rock bands singing bespoke songs written specifically for them by Beck and Broken Social Scene, with Radiohead producers Nigel Godrich’s multi-layered “blippy, swoony score” propping up the background.
6. We just don’t need another hero
Well, we certainly don’t need another superhero at any rate. Which is not to suggest the recent barrage of superhero movies have all been as horrible as, say, The Phantom, Daredevil or the hideous Catwoman, or that we aren’t excited about Captain America and The Avengers (don’t let me down, Joss Whedon!).
But if superheroes are our greatest hopes and dreams, perhaps it’s the lean times we’re facing that make us not only downsize our lives, but our unrealistic expectations as well. We can’t be Superman… but we might just be able to squeeze a Scott Pilgrim out of all of us.