"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," out in theaters this Friday, is, like so many movies, based on a comic book — a series of six graphic novels from Portland, Oregon-based publisher Oni Press. Most of the actors in this film weren’t fans of the medium before being cast, but it sounds like they might have been converted.
“I wish all books were graphic novels,” Jason Schwartzman told Newsarama during a press junket interview. Schwartzman ("Rushmore," "Bored to Death") plays the movie’s villain, disingenuous record exec and ultimate evil ex, Gideon Graves.
Michael Cera stars as the title character, and had read the first two installments before meeting with the movie’s director, Edgar Wright.
“I’m not a comic reader, but I really loved these,” Cera said. “You read them in a half hour. You feel like, ‘Wow, I just read a book!’”
Their enthusiasm is only natural — the source material is inescapable on screen during "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." Many lines of dialogue are lifted directly from the graphic novels, and the movie’s packed with comic book-inspired visuals, cartoony sound effects and even actual drawings straight from "Scott Pilgrim" creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.
“That aspect was a little unexpected to me at first,” O’Malley said of Wright’s decision to retain so many elements from the comics. “I didn’t realize he was going to be quite so devoted to the look of the books. It looks like a fully realized world, which is more than I ever anticipated.”
For Wright, though, it was an easy decision.
“What was nice about the books was, because it’s a comedy, it didn’t have to be in the real world,” Wright said to Newsarama. “'Scott Pilgrim,' because it’s a comedy, I really wanted to embrace the bubblegum, pop art nature of the book. A lot of comic book adaptations don’t retain a lot of the tropes and stylistic flourishes of comic books. It was just a gift to be able to do it, really.”
The movie and comic books share the same characters and plot — Scott Pilgrim meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams, but must engage in over-the-top, video game-esque battles with her seven evil exes before he can date her — but there are changes due to the nature of the two formats, such as events that unfolded over a year in the comics taking place during a few days in the movie.
There are many film adaptations of comic books where the creators aren’t involved in the process — Alan Moore had his name removed from the credits of the 2009 "Watchmen" feature — but O’Malley, who wrote and drew each "Scott Pilgrim" volume, was heavily involved in this production.
“Talking to Bryan absolutely was interesting,” Schwartzman said. “What did he envision Gideon to be like?”
Brandon Routh plays evil ex #3, telekinetic vegan bass playing doofus Todd Ingram. Routh has now filmed three comic book movies, also playing the ultimate superhero icon in 2006’s "Superman Returns," and starring in the upcoming film version of Italian horror series "Dylan Dog." He says he’s starting to feel a definite connection to the world of comics.
“It’s hard not to as an actor these days,” Routh said. “It’s everywhere. It’s infiltrated. Comic books are winning the war of creativity, which is awesome. There’s so much great talent.”
Any "Scott Pilgrim" cast member not familiar with the culture of comic book fandom got thrown into the deep end late last month at Comic-Con International: San Diego, where the cast participated in a panel and greeted fans across the street from the convention center at the “Scott Pilgrim Experience.”
“So overwhelmingly awesome and bizarre,” Schwartzman said of his time at Comic-Con. “I just love seeing people who love things.”
Alison Pill plays fan favorite character Kim Pine, and left Comic-Con with a stack of new reading material courtesy of publisher Oni Press.
“I’ve got about 20 new things to try out,” Pill said. “I just read'Queen and Country.'”
Some of the cast are now so invested in this world, they’re even seeing themselves in the comic book pages.
“Now, looking at volume six, I think of myself,” said Mark Webber, who plays Sex Bob-Bomb frontman Stephen Stills. “I think, ‘oh, that’s me.’ Which is funny, and weird.”