In case you were not aware, comic books are hot right now. Like, Human Torch-totally-en-fuego hot. Classic characters fill up toy aisles, have been revived and reincarnated in animated shows or direct-to-DVD flicks and can be found pasted on to just about anything their creators can license them to.
But the biggest influx of the graphic novel into mainstream culture is on the silver screen. The comic book movie.
Comic book movies have taken over the summer blockbuster season. Some have exceeded our wildest dreams and some have fallen flat on their masked faces. But there have been some constants in the genre: the unlikely hero type discovers their power, struggles with said power, puts on a snazzy outfit and saves the world. By no means am I trying to belittle the genre, I am a complete and utter fan of the array of caped crusaders out there, but Jung didn’t pull the idea of heroic archetypes out of nowhere. This is how our heroes exist. They’re just like us, then something happens and they’re suddenly larger than life and a costume gets tossed in.
But what about a hero without a cape? Without a mask? Without a… job?
Meet Scott Pilgrim. At twenty-three years old, his only known ability is playing bass and he doesn’t even take that too seriously. He shares an apartment with his roommate Wallace Wells and it’s implied that “sharing” really means that Wallace pays for everything since Scott’s unemployed. He’s dating a high schooler and on top of that Scott’s getting his own comic book movie. Still filming, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World will be hitting theaters sometime next year.
So what’s Scott’s radioactive spider bite? What changes him from slacker to superstar? A dream. Scott begins to dream about a girl on rollerblades and then starts to see his “dream girl” out and about in Toronto. Eventually he runs into her at a party, makes an awkward attempt at conversation that leaves the girl thinking Scott’s some kind of weirdo and spends the rest of the night collecting information about her from friends. He gets her name, Ramona Flowers and her occupation (as well as a reason for her rollerblading); she’s a delivery girl for Amazon.ca.
But there’s a catch to pursuing Ramona, one that turns this typical slacker story on its head. If Scott wants to date Ramona (and boy, does he)… he’s got to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends first.
Spoiler alert: Video game fans will appreciate that after defeating an ex-boyfriend, they disappear and Scott collects a handful of coins.
Here’s where the summer movie material comes in.
Like the graphic novel it’s based on, the film is taking place AND filming in Toronto, Canada. Bringing Scott to the big screen is one of my favorite directors, Edgar Wright. If you’ve heard his name before, it’s probably been attached to that of Simon Pegg. Together they wrote the hit British comedy series Spaced (with Jessica Hynes) as well as the films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But Edgar’s not working with Simon this time (he’s a little too old to pull off 23), cast in the title role is Superbad’s Michael Cera.
Edgar and the cast have been maintaining a production blog for the movie and for any Rochestarians who frequent the Tdot, some of the shooting locations might look familiar. The video blogs are funny and offer peeks behind the scenes that will make fans of the comics geek out with delight. I nerded out hardcore over the faithfulness to Scott’s winter jacket and the awful paneling of Wallace’s apartment.
Writer/Artist Bryan Lee O’Malley has been on hand, finding the buildings and neighborhoods he used as artistic reference for use in the film. Though we find out that the outside of Scott and Wallace’s apartment is strictly used for outdoor shots. The interiors were done on a set, not just because that’s how filming a movie works but also because apparently the area behind the front door of Wallace’s apartment was “full of toilets”, Edgar reported.
Since there’s plenty of time before the movie hits theatres, check out the graphic novels. O’Malley’s a double threat, writing and drawing Scott’s adventures. His dialogue is clever and realistic and his art is simply beautiful. Great pacing keeps the story moving in a unique blend of manga, action, romance and kung fu.
So in a world where Spiderman pajamas come in both adult and kid sizes; remember that it’s not all about mutant genes and the destruction of planet Krypton. Scott Pilgrim is joining the ranks of other indie comic adaptations such as Ghost World and Persepolis.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Chris Evans, Kieran Culkin and Jason Schwartzman. Directed by Edgar Wright. Slated to be released in 2010.
Scott Pilgrim series: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together & Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, available through Oni Press.