TRAILER PARK: ‘SCOTT PILGRIM TAKES OFF’
Given the challenges of creating television today, the genesis of the series ‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ looks positively byzantine: a new cartoon series starting in November 2023, based on a movie filmed in 2010, and featuring the same cast, which was based on a comic written from 2004 to 2010. The artwork in the animated series resembles the artwork in the original comic trade paperback series, ‘Scott Pilgrim’ by Canadian creator Bryan Lee O’Malley and produced by Oni Press.
The general synopsis is:
“Scott William Pilgrim is the 23-year-old (22 in film and 24 in volumes 5-6) protagonist. He is the bass player for the band Sex Bob-Omb with his friends Stephen Stills and Kim Pine; he plays a Rickenbacker 4001c64, 4003 in the 2010 film. He is initially devastated by his break-up with Envy Adams and begins dating Knives Chau, before meeting Ramona. Ramona and Scott begin dating, but Scott is plagued by Ramona’s elusive past and her “7 evil exes” led by the mysterious “Gideon”, all of whom challenge him in succession for the right to date her.”
I WAS NOT THE FILM’S TARGET AUDIENCE
The movie version of this comic series sticks to the overall story and structure of the trade paperback series which was originally done in Black and White and later colorized after the movie’s strange success. Okay, when I say strange, I say this despite the film’s visual and cultural appeal and numerous awards it garnered at its most popular. I will dare say in polite company, I avoided it in the theaters entirely, suspecting I was not it’s target audience.
When I think of this film, it puts me in mind of a comic which has been intentionally used as a storyboard, complete with animated effects and frenetic action scenes taken almost verbatim from the comic, including the very idea of a ‘boss battle’ – the escalation of fights from the weakest to the strongest adversaries, helping the protagonist level up, learn about himself and to recognize the need for emotional and intellectual development. Since Scott Pilgrim isn’t an intellectual powerhouse, the development of the character is slow and driven around the boss battles with Ramona’s “Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends.”
Let me also admit, I was not initially a fan of this film. (I do not enjoy Michael Cera’s acting and though he has quite the following, some of it predicated upon this film), I find his brand of self-effacing character development ingenious and his depiction of Scott Pilgrim to be bland at best. The film version of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World however isn’t a complete dog, and manages to squeeze more than a few interesting moments from the character designs and the fight scenes.
SCOTT PILGRIM, THE TRADE PAPERBACK WAS FAR MORE INTERESTING
I also admit to enjoying the comic series far more, and suspect the new series will share more of the slower paced story development which was cast off in favor of the movie’s frenetic pace and limited runtime. I am going to go and reread Scott Pilgrim to renew my relationship with the printed version. The comic definitely slows the pace of the character development, giving us some time to get to know Scott, Ramona, Knives and the rest of the cast of characters.
I get the feeling the series is meant to talk to a younger audience, which I suspect is why it is appearing as part of the Netflix lineup, hoping to catch the eye of the same audience as the visually stunning series ‘Arcane’ which was designed to appeal to the late teen and early twenties audience. The same audience who thrilled to the over-the-top magical antics of Dracula and the warriors who fought against him in the complex storytelling of ‘Castlevania,’ with less the bloodshed. The comic gives me the feel of a story hoping to pick up the the diverse audience of ‘Dota’ and offering to be relatable to the younger audiences of ‘The Dragon Prince’ and ‘Wakfu’ which also feature diverse casts, preteen and teenage characters.
This trailer, however, does absolutely nothing to promote the series effectively and I suspect it was created as the first trailer to see if there is a buzz among the previous era’s fans who enjoyed the film, may or may not have read the comics and each successive trailer will likely give us more information about the players, the villains and the nature of the story arcs to come.
THE STAR STUDDED CAST
‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ is animated by Science SARU, which produced episodes of ‘Adventure Time’ and two episodes of the ‘Star Wars: Visions’ series in production with animator and director, Abel Góngora, the head of Science SARU’s digital animation department. The series features the voices of the actors in the aforementioned 2010 film, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World,’ including Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Satya Bhabha (Matthew Patel), Chris Evans (Lucas Lee) and Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim). The film is produced by Edgar Wright whose credits include the first Scott Pilgrim film and other fast and frenetic works such as ‘Baby Driver,’ ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and one of my favorite alien invasion films, ‘The World’s End.’ IMDB indicates the series is tentatively slated to appear on November 17, 2023 on Netflix.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.