Review: ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World’ celebrates 10 years since release


In the sketched drawing above, Scott and Ramona, the two main characters of “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World,” lean against the wall at a party during the memorable scene where Scott talks to Ramona for the first time, and rambles about the origins of PacMan. “Ramona is such a powerful character,” Kalyani Rao said. “Not only is she gorgeous, she leaves you wanting to learn more about her. That’s the coolest part — Ramona is full of secrets.” (Drawing provided by Max Hoffschwelle)


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Note from the writer: If you haven’t seen the movie by now, there are spoilers in the review below. 

 This year, the film adaptation of the comic series “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” celebrates its ten year anniversary. Since it was released, it has set the bar for film adaptations of graphic novels and comics alike, even though it has received praise and criticism of the main character, Scott Pilgrim. 

A quick rundown

Scott is 21 years old, and a Toronto slacker who’s still moping from a year-old breakup. To cope, he’s dating Knives Chau, a lovable but clingy highschool groupie, who’s obsessed with Scott’s garage band, “Sex Ba-Bomb.” However, when Scott sees the mysterious new girl on the block, it is love at first sight. With her brightly colored hair, grunge style, nonchalance and roller blades, Ramona Flowers makes Scott all the more desperate to get to know her. The audience gets to live vicariously through his awkward interactions with Ramona, his charming yet dorky wit, and his battles with Ramona’s seven evil exes, whom he has to defeat to win her heart.

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” went above and beyond the standards for comic and graphic novel adaptations, creating a realistic mesh of video game effects and flesh-and-blood characters. From the 8-bit graphics and tinny music used in the opening credits to the endless barrage of visually drawn sound effects, the film creates an immersive and engaging experience for its audience. 

Important lessons about relationships and self reflection are brought up in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.” Ramona Flowers is guarded about her past throughout the film, and has difficulty trusting Scott both as a boyfriend and a friend. Her worst ex-boyfriend is introduced pretty early on in the movie — wealthy, greasy-looking Gideon. When Scott is performing with his band, he sees Ramona and Gideon standing together in the crowd. After their performance, she breaks up with Scott and gets into the car with Gideon. During his final showdown with Gideon, it’s revealed to the audience that Ramona had a chip in her neck controlled by Gideon, which allowed him to manipulate how she acts, showing us that she still valued Scott and had no choice but to go with Gideon. 

Ramona is such a powerful character. Not only is she gorgeous, she leaves you wanting to learn more about her. That’s the coolest part — Ramona is full of secrets.

— Kalyani Rao

Analysis of common themes

The chip represents how a manipulative partner leaves a permanent wound in someone. Ramona had difficulty getting over Gideon, and in real life the chip represents her insecurities in her relationship with him and how he treated her badly, yet she looked up to him. This is a common experience in real life, and Gideon’s impact leaves Ramona constantly comparing nice-guy Scott to Gideon to make sure he’s nothing like him. 

When Ramona tells Scott she’s going back with Gideon, the audience sees how sometimes manipulative partners can control you mentally if you don’t actively put your past in the past. By the resolution of the film, Ramona learns that if she doesn’t think of Scott as a future evil ex, he may not become one. Before the credits roll, she tells Scott she’s going somewhere different to get a fresh start, and Scott asks if he can come with her. This shows how actively moving past difficult memories can give a fresh perspective on life and making new memories.

Ramona is not the only one in the film who teaches us an important lesson about approaching relationships. In the first half of the movie, Scott is dating Knives Chau, a high schooler. His friends and roommate criticize him for the relationship, with good cause. Their relationship is awkward and pointless, as she’s in a different stage of life than him, and he’s not really interested in her. Knives is a safe partner because she doesn’t bring up his past, and he can use her as a shield from thinking about his ex-girlfriend. He’s unable to move on from a popular singer called Envy, even though she broke up with him a year ago, drawing a parallel to Ramona and Gideon. He actually ends up cheating on Knives with Ramona, because he is too nervous to break up with her. He still manages to end things with Knives, but he’s already been on one date with Ramona by that point.

Character development

At the climax of the movie, when Scott has to confront Gideon and then his evil counterpart, “NEGA-Scott,” he realizes just how much of a jerk he’s been in his past relationships. Defeating Gideon allowed him to finally face his problems, and as soon as the battle is over, he apologizes to Ramona, Knives and Kim, a member of his band who he also dated. Scott teaches us that it’s important to learn how to accept blame for problems, and learn from bad experiences without just ignoring them. Throughout the movie he blames all of his breakups on his ex partners instead of accepting his own flaws. He blames Envy for their breakup because she cheated on him, which is fair, but he mopes over it constantly instead of accepting that he also contributed to their breakup and he needs to move on. Knives teaches the importance of honesty in relationships. Her recovery from her breakup with Scott by the end of the film, and her crucial role in helping Scott defeat Gideon, showed her growth as a character. Ramona stresses the importance of reconciling with your past and learning to move on.

Wrapping it up

From relationship advice, to interesting female characters, to the effortless blend of comic book graphics and real life characters, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” remains an iconic film ten years later. It’s never too late to watch it — there’s something in it for everyone.