Universal Pictures has only three weeks left to establish “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” in the public’s preoccupied consciousness. The studio made a lot of progress at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday night.
Opening at the end of the summer against some formidable competition—Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” and Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love” premiere the same weekend—director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s much-loved graphic novel series showcases much of what Comic Con guests covet but don’t always get: inspired action, creative use of music and, more than anything else, visually compelling storytelling.
The simplest version of “Scott Pilgrim” sounds like so many other impossible romances between twentysomethings: nerdy guy (Michael Cera) desires cool, stunning girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but faces impossible odds winning her heart.
The principal twist—and what Wright focused on in much of his Hall H presentation—is that Cera’s Scott Pilgrim must fight the former loves (known in the film as the seven evil exes) of Winstead’s Ramona V. Flowers. And when we say fight, we mean fight: the easiest way to describe the film’s clashes is to imagine “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” crossed with “The Matrix” and, most important, the video game “Street Fighter II Turbo.”
To a packed Hall H, Wright said he was smitten with O’Malley’s books as soon as someone put them in his hands while he was in the United States promoting his 2004 zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead.” “It was love at first sight,” he said.
Working more efficiently than most of the ostensibly skilled moderators at Comic-Con, Wright introduced almost all of the film’s cast (including Brandon Routh, Anna Kendrick and lead villain Jason Schwartzman), while also making sure that the audience understood (through words and clips) that the film was faithful to O’Malley’s sense of humor and writing and anime-influenced illustrating style.
Cera spent the entire panel dressed as Captain America, a wry joke about his playing something of a super hero in “Scott Pilgrim” and his co-star Chris Evans being cast in the lead role as “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
“I loved getting into excellent shape,” Cera said of his fight training for “Scott Pilgrim.” “That was great. I felt fantastic, mentally and physically. It was a long time ago.”
In an announcement that Universal was able to keep a surprise, Wright invited several hundred Hall H guests to see the whole film after the panel’s conclusion. It wasn’t the night’s only treat.
As soon as the film was finished, Canadian alternative rock band Metric (whose songs are featured in “Scott Pilgrim”) took the stage at the Balboa Theatre, as vocalist Emily Haines capped off a very successful “Scott Pilgrim” night.
And here are some fans reacting to the screening.
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