Director Edgar Wright's Epic 'Pilgrim'-age

The British director speaks with Fresh Air's Dave Davies about his new film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, based on the graphic comic series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Wright also directed the parody romantic zombie film Shaun of the Dead and the British TV sit-com, Spaced.

Love Is A (Video) Game In 'Scott Pilgrim' Battles

  • Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) takes on one of his girlfriend's Seven Evil Exes in the superstylized action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
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    Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) takes on one of his girlfriend's Seven Evil Exes in the superstylized action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
    Double Negative/Universal Pictures
  • Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley has written six Scott Pilgrim comics, published between 2004 and 2010. The first entry, in which Scott meets his girlfriend-to-be, is called Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.
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    Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley has written six Scott Pilgrim comics, published between 2004 and 2010. The first entry, in which Scott meets his girlfriend-to-be, is called Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.
    Oni Press
  • Scott Pilgrim with his girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and his roommate, Wallace (Kieran Culkin).
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    Scott Pilgrim with his girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and his roommate, Wallace (Kieran Culkin).
    Double Negative/Universal Pictures
  • Scott plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-omb. In this sequence, he's getting ready for a gig at the Rockit club, a local hangout.
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    Scott plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-omb. In this sequence, he's getting ready for a gig at the Rockit club, a local hangout.
    Oni Press
  • Todd Ingram (played by Brandon Routh) is another of Ramona's evil exes, and the bass player for the hipster band Clash at the Demonhead.
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    Todd Ingram (played by Brandon Routh) is another of Ramona's evil exes, and the bass player for the hipster band Clash at the Demonhead.
    Double Negative/Universal Pictures
  • Clash at the Demonhead, fronted by Scott's own ex Envy Adams, is named — in keeping with the series' endless parade of pop culture references — for a Japanese video game.
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    Clash at the Demonhead, fronted by Scott's own ex Envy Adams, is named — in keeping with the series' endless parade of pop culture references — for a Japanese video game.
    Oni Press
  • In the film's climactic battle, Scott takes on the mastermind behind the League of Evil Exes, Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).
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    In the film's climactic battle, Scott takes on the mastermind behind the League of Evil Exes, Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).
    Double Negative/Universal Pictures
  • Knives Chau — Scott's high-schooler girlfriend until he he breaks it off to pursue Ramona — has a singular way of dealing with conflict.
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    Knives Chau — Scott's high-schooler girlfriend until he he breaks it off to pursue Ramona — has a singular way of dealing with conflict.
    Oni Press

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Scott Pilgrim was a young man in Toronto dating a high school girl, playing in a garage band and drifting through the days with his slacker friends — until Ramona Flowers Rollerbladed into his life. Before the two can skate off into the sunset, however, Scott must fight her Seven Evil Exes to the death.

That's the premise of a six-volume series of graphic novels and a new film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Bryan Lee O'Malley created the books drawing from his own life as a struggling comic artist and musician. Yet one other inspiration may be more obvious.

Bryan Lee O'Malley i i

hide captionCanadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley lettered and illustrated several comics before releasing his first graphic novel Lost At Sea in 2003. He is also a musician under the alias Kupek.

Charlie Chu
Bryan Lee O'Malley

Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley lettered and illustrated several comics before releasing his first graphic novel Lost At Sea in 2003. He is also a musician under the alias Kupek.

Charlie Chu

O'Malley spent his childhood playing video games. He tells NPR's Liane Hansen that years of playing Mortal Kombat-style games came in handy.

"I just had this feeling that, if I were to get into a fight, somehow I would have the ability to fight back, just based on playing Street Fighter for so many years of my life," O'Malley says. "It's almost like I actually learned martial arts."

In the graphic novels and the film, Scott Pilgrim battles hand-to-hand with Ramona's exes, who include a pair of twins, a vegan rock star and a skateboarding movie idol. The fight scenes — what O'Malley calls "an insane wonderland of fighting and crazy magic" — explode with video-game references (like the number of points Scott earns for landing a punch).

O'Malley chose video game-style fights as the vehicle for Scott's daunting battle for Ramona in order to show how melodramatic love can sometimes be.

"These physical fights are just, sort of, a literalization of these metaphorical, emotional things that we all go through in a relationship," O'Malley says. He adds that he's never had to physically fight for love.

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