Scott Pilgrim vs. the Big Screen

As early as 1944, Marvel Worldwide Inc. has been adapting their graphic novels and characters into live-action films. The films based on Marvel Comics are currently being produced by Marvel Studios. All three companies are subsidiaries of Marvel Entertainment, whose parent company is The Walt Disney Company. Confusing, right?

Not all graphic novels that are published and adapted into films are done by an umbrella corporation. One such example is the series of graphic stories Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 cover. Art by Bryan Lee O’Malley.


The series was originally published by Oni Press, an independent comic book publisher based in Portland, then later republished by Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins; one of the largest publishing companies in the world. 

In 2006, in a critics’ poll Publishers Weekly ranked the third volume of the series as one of the best comic books that year. In 2008, it was ranked 85th on a list of the “200 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time” in Wizard magazine. More recently,  in 2011 IGN ranked Scott Pilgrim 69th on a list of top 100 comic book heroes. In 2005, O’Malley won the Doug Wright Award for “Best Emerging Talent” for the first volume. In 2006, in the Joe Shuster Awards he won “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist.” In 2007, he won the Harvey Award. In 2010, O’Malley won an Eisner Award in the “Best Humor Publication” category for the fifth volume of Scott Pilgrim.

Theatrical Release Poster
Theatrical Release Poster

The film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released on August 13, 2010. It finished fifth on opening weekend, totaling $10.6 million. The film was met with generally positive reviews by critics, but failed to regain its production budget of $60 million during its time in theaters. The film grossed $31.5 million in North America and $16 million internationally.

While the film did win multiple awards, non of which are in favor of the story-line, it’s the critical receptions that really steal the show. Many are positive, calling the film “funny,” inventive,” and “spellbinding.” At the same time others where calling it “attention-deficit,” “juvenile,” and “exhausting.” You either like the movie or you don’t, there doesn’t seem to be a common ground. Perhaps adapting 6 novels into one movie was too ambitious.


In this case of independently published comics, the reviews are in and it seems the graphic novel version of Scott Pilgrim, by and large, is more successful than its film counterpart. Since it’s release on Blu-ray and DVD the film has gained a cult following and is what Time considers “a most likable mess.” Many also attribute its minor success to the love of video games and their representation and qualities that are perceived throughout the film. But this is about graphic novels, not video games.