With Netflix series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, O’Malley and Grabinski revive an iconic franchise and cast to broaden the Scott Pilgrim multiverse in surprisingly delightful ways.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off has been stirring conversation within the fanbase ever since it was announced. After being introduced to the universe of Scott Pilgrim by Bryan O’Malley’s graphic novels in the early 2000s and being blessed with Edgar Wright’s monumental film adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010), Netflix gifts us with a return to this beloved geeky universe in the form of an animated mini-series that has big shoes to fill.
As an avid lover of the 2010 comedy masterpiece with frontman Michael Cera, I was ready to sit beside my childhood self and enjoy some quality time with him, reliving all our laughs and all our memories thirteen years later through this faithful retelling of the story. However, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off KOs those expectations and gears up to pave its own road, secure its independent corner in the franchise.
The Netflix series leads Scott Pilgrim’s cult following to believe we’re entering a safe space of knowing we’re about to experience Scott Pilgrim’s familiar character arc, just through a different medium, but the pilot episode ends up pushing the boundaries of what we already know and, in that way, wipes the slate clean, deleting any clutter of preconceived notions.
Scott Pilgrim (Cera), a 23-year-old bassist in an amateur band, falls in love with a mysterious new girl in town, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), after seeing her in his dreams. Once sparks start to fly between them, Scott is challenged to defeat in battle the League of Seven Evil Exes, determined to win back Ramona. Things take a turn for the worse when the first battle does not go as planned, and Ramona is left to pick up the pieces of a seemingly impossible mystery.
It’s important to address one point right away. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is evidently written and put together with fans in mind. The miniseries is not an advisable or suitable entrypoint for newcomers to the Scott Pilgrim universe because what it provides is a detour from the original plotline, a “What if?” alternate reality, if you will. It doesn’t feel like a sequel, but it definitely isn’t a remake, either. It’s an exploration of a different scenario, which serves to expand the lore and the wacky characters in Scott’s life. For better or worse, the target audience is clear.
That being said, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off brings the same exact charm as all of its installments, largely thanks to the reuniting cast and creators that shaped the comics and the movie years ago. The ensemble of A-List voice actors reprises their same roles as if they had never left, while the script and animation bring back all the reasons why we fell in love with the bizarre cult classic in the first place: the old-school video game references and animations, the specific quirks characteristic of its worldbuilding, and the self-aware meta comedy that at times pokes fun at itself.
Showrunners Bryan O’Malley and BenDavid Grabinski really asked themselves, “How self-aware and meta can we make this without crossing into off-putting territory?” Most of the dialogue in the show somehow works on two levels. It keeps its goofy tone wildly entertaining, but, at the same time, the subtext constantly hints at how much attention the writers have paid to the subtle art of writing a franchise. There are moments when the franchise addresses its own franchise-ness.
***(The following paragraph contains very mild spoilers.)***
It’s such a fascinating approach to have different characters in the show adapt Scott Pilgrim’s life story into a book, a movie, or a musical about Scott Pilgrim’s life and his battle against the seven evil exes. Meanwhile, in real life, we’re watching yet another adaptation of Scott Pilgrim’s life story on Netflix after the great success of the 2010 film, adapted from the graphic novel about Scott Pilgrim’s life story. It’s all one huge paradox of multiverses, in which the show recognizes that it’s yet another adaptation.
Yes, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World undoubtedly still holds the crown as my favorite installment. The film keeps accumulating more popularity, still attracting new eyes, and for good reason. The stellar performances of this one-of-a-kind cast will forever hold iconic status in their respective Hollywood careers. However, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is here now and manages to feed Scott Pilgrim’s hungry fanbase with something fresh, engaging, and unexpectedly fulfilling.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is now available to watch on Netflix.