“I’m between jobs right now.’
‘Between what and what?’
‘Well…my last job is a really long story, filled with sighs. Maybe we can get into it in a later volume.”
Scott Pilgrim is a series of graphic novels (six in total) by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It tells the story of 20-something slacker Scott Pilgrim, his friends, and his love/obsession Ramona Flowers…and her seven evil exes.
Director Edgar Wright began adapting the series into a script after someone gave him Volume 1 while he was doing press for Shaun of the Dead (2004). He first approached Bryan Lee O’Malley about doing a movie later that year (while O’Malley was writing Volume 2). As each new volume was published, Wright changed and adapted the script. Essentially he was working on the script for more than 10 years; pestering O’Malley with questions the whole time (O’Malley was also a producer for the movie).
Edgar Wright is the master of tiny details, and if he couldn’t add a story line into the script, he at least gave it a nod. In Volume 2 Ramona gets a cat (which is not in the movie) but the cat’s image can be seen on the mug Scott’s holding at the beginning of the movie. All of the t-shirts that Scott wears come from the comic (as well as most of the other major characters). Wright even included the song that inspired O’Malley to call the main female character Ramona (“I Heard Ramona Sing” by Frank Black) and the song “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree that the comic is named after.
Bryan Lee O’Malley also drew quite a bit for the movie: the image of Ramona that Scott draws (“A girl with hair like this”) was O’Malley’s as was the Punisher logo that Todd wears during The Clash at Demonhead’s performance. The actual comic scenes showing Ramona’s backstory, however, were drawn by Wright’s younger brother. O’Malley said he was thrilled to see panels based on his style that he didn’t have to draw himself.
Wright didn’t just use the comics as reference, but a picture O’Malley had (which Scott and Wallace’s apartment is based on). Wright found and used many of the real locations in Toronto, despite the fact that O’Malley couldn’t remember where some of the more obscure ones were.
Wright said he paced the movie in a way that emulated what reading a comic book felt like, not just in copying panels shot for shot, but by using faster cuts and breaking up shots in split screen.
When Edgar started filming, the last volume wasn’t complete (it actually went on sale the week before the Scott Pilgrim panel at Comic Con). As a result, Wright used the notes he had gathered from O’Malley on what he planned to do to end the series; that ending involved robots and a microchip Gideon had installed in Ramona. As O’Malley was writing, he came up with a better ending and used that in the book, but filming had wrapped by that point.
Edgar Wright even gave a nod to movie’s always being imperfect adaptations: During the climax (the second time) the character Comeau says “Well the comic book is better than the movie”.
- A ton of dialogue is almost exactly from the book
- Scott’s t-shirts match the ones he wears (so do Ramona’s and Kim’s outfits, and some of Neil’s, Stephen’s, and Wallace’s shirts)
- Scott is 23 in the books, 22 in the movie (changed so it would be the same as Michael Cera’s age)
- The ending
- Some dialogue (and attitude) is switched between Ramona and Envy
Accuracy rating: 5 out of 5. Edgar Wright is known for tiny details in his movies, and he worked with Bryan Lee O’Malley every step of the way. While it’s not perfect, I don’t think you could get a better Book to Movie adaptation.