Hear Me Out Before You Shut Me Out

Scott Pilgrim vs. Kick-Ass

For those who don’t know me or read my review, I loved the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It was the most fun I had in a long time. It’s action, cinematography, and comedic timing were definitely among the best I’ve seen in 2010. Yet, I still don’t understand how such a good movie did so poorly. In fact, of all the people who saw it, almost everybody liked it. What gives? Well, among the biggest criticisms of this movie is that it is too much like Kick-Ass. Really?  Kick-Ass?

Now I’ve seen Kick-Ass, and I thought it was okay. It wasn’t bad, but it was underwhelming. I just expected more from a movie about a kid dressing up as a superhero and fighting crime. While the girl who played Hit Girl definitely stole the show, it really didn’t say much compared to the actual show. It’s about kids wanting to be superheroes, so they dress up as superheroes. In fact, this movie should be compared to Watchmen. Oh well. I’ve seen both films, and I can prove that these two films are not the same thing.

1)      Kick-Ass is a superhero movie; Scott Pilgrim is not – Kick-Ass seems more like a parody of comic book superheroes because it’s about a kid named Dave dressed up as a superhero who always gets his ass kicked, probably because of how stupid his name is. Come on, “Kick-Ass”? The Thing had a better name than that. Anyway, Kick-Ass fought crime in the streets from thugs to crime lords. Scott Pilgrim fought evil exes that were bent on controlling Ramona Flower’s love life. If anything, it’s a romantic action comedy that looks like a superhero movie. Scott Pilgrim didn’t dress up as a superhero; he was the bassist of a rock band. If anything, he was Joe Schmo Toronto. Also, Scott Pilgrim portrayed the titular character as more of a video-game hero while throwing in some comic references.

2)      While both think they’re awesome when we’re supposed to know they’re not, the timing and context are off – Dave knew he was a nerd in the beginning; that’s why he became a superhero in the first place. The girl he wanted never recognized him in the beginning and never did until she thought he was gay. He thought he was awesome when he was Kick-Ass because he thought Kick-Ass was awesome because he thought superheroes were awesome. Scott Pilgrim thought he was awesome from the beginning, and we knew he wasn’t because we saw him as this little twerp (probably because it’s Michael Cera). He thought he was awesome because he was in a band and had a girlfriend until he found Ramona. When he was around Ramona, Scott started feeling more like a nerd and felt less and less awesome the more he fought the evil exes.

3)      The love interests are two different people – Dave’s  girl, Katie, was a high schooler who worked at a clinic and never recognized the guy behind Kick-Ass until he took the mask off in front of her. We knew really little about this girl except that she seems like you’re typical high school crush. Ramona, on the other hand, is not typical. She dyes her hair numerous colors; she moved to Canada from New York City; she has a load of baggage that comes back to haunt her apparently; and she was caught in the middle of a love web. That gives the character more apparent value. While Scott Pilgrim dated a high-school girl in the beginning, she wasn’t the love interest. Ramona also fought one of the exes until Scott had to finish the fight. Katie never did jack squat to anybody except doing Dave in the back of a comic-book store. Ramona was such a value to the exes that she became under the control of the last ex. Neither Kate nor Hit Girl were considered valuable ransom material to the boss; Kate’s life wasn’t in danger, so Dave didn’t really fight for her. Scott, on the other hand, fought all the seven exes so that he could have Ramona’s hand.

4)      The gangs of villains aren’t even remotely similar – Kick-Ass fought street thugs and crime boss thugs because he was trying to be a superhero. These were just random people off the street and expendable cronies, much like the thugs in the rest of the comic book world. We don’t know who they are, and it’s not important. Scott Pilgrim fought seven of Ramona’s exes that composed themselves as “The League of Evil Exes” because he wanted to date Ramona, and they wanted to stop him. They were six guys and one girl. I’m not lying; Ramona had an ex-girlfriend. These were people that ranged from a movie star to a vegan bassist with psychic powers to a record dealer. These people had back-stories and details around them that made them more dimensional than any thug. While they considered themselves a “league”, the evil exes had no boss. Gideon Graves, the final ex, composed the league, but each ex fought independently with similar intent. The thugs were under the control of Frank D’Amico, a crime lord.

5)      While one can argue that both thought they were superheroes, the context is opposite – Dave literally tried to be a superhero, as in had a suit and nunchucks. He literally fought people and literally made headlines. He garnished nationwide attention for the stuff that he did. Scott Pilgrim, while he thought he was somewhat of a hero, didn’t actually pretend to be one. Everything that happened in the movie most likely was through his mind. He kicked ass because he thought he kicked ass, using logic, fight moves and killer music. Only a giant neon gorilla fighting a dual-headed neon dragon would be metaphorical if it obviously looked like it didn’t happen. That was the beauty ofScott Pilgrim: its visuals and sight gags weren’t meant to be taken literally. Kick-Ass, however, wanted us to believe that a kid fighting crime dressed up as a superhero was actually possible.

6)      While both had girls with pink hair, they are not similar – If I find out this is a reason let alone THE reason why people compare these two, I will hurt somebody. Let me break it down: Hit Girl was a thirteen-year old girl with a tongue that could make a sailor blush raised by Nicholas Cage and pretended to be a superhero; Ramona was eighteen, lived by herself, and fought one battle without finishing it. Also, if you actually saw the movie, you would know that Ramona’s hair wasn’t always pink; in fact, it was only pink for the first part that we saw her, then it turned blue and green. Hell, she even admitted that she changes her hair every week-and-a-half. Hit Girl wore a pink wig as a part of her costume; her real hair is blonde. She fought all her battles and kicked more ass than Kick-Ass; Ramona had someone fight for her (for her heart not instead of her) and had more ass kicked to get her.

7)      Kick-Ass was a comic book nerd and therefore was more akin to comic books; Scott Pilgrim was a gamer and therefore was more akin to video games – Dave hung around with his friends at a comic book store, where he got his idea to become a superhero after contemplating how no one in real life actually dressed up as superheroes and fought crime. Scott Pilgrim played video games such as a Dance-Dance styled Street Fighteresque game. Scott Pilgrim had more video game references than comic book references, and the comic book references were because Scott Pilgrim WAS a comic book series. Think about it: every time Scott defeated an ex, points would show up, and the exes would turn into coins; Scott defeated each person with a “K.O.”; each fight had a versus in the middle like it was Street Fighter; and the ending featured a “Continue?” countdown like at the end of the arcade games. Oh, and his band is called “Sex Bob-Omb”, something known from the Mario world.

8)      Kick-Ass didn’t really kick that much ass and Scott Pilgrim kicked everyone’s ass – you know that Kick-Ass was way in over his head when you see his ass getting kicked more than he is kicking ass. He didn’t really defeat anybody outside a gang of thugs and the actual crime boss. This spoofed the idea of a superhero because we knew this probably would happen in real life. In fact, they even satirized the whole “super-strength/superpower” aspect by having his entire skeleton realigned with metal. Scott Pilgrim fought all of the evil exes and defeated every single one of them; he kicked more ass than Kick-Ass. Yes, there were moments when we had his ass served to him on a silver platter, but eventually Scott Pilgrim won the fight one way or another. Kick-Ass won his battles with nunchucks, but he still lost more fights and even almost got killed in front of millions of viewers until Hit Girl came in and saved him. Yes, Kick-Ass defeated the boss but with a bazooka. Scott Pilgrim kicked the final boss’s face in with some help from his ex-girlfriend Knives.

9)      Scott Pilgrim had to fight baggage of his own and therefore had internal struggle – another thing about Scott Pilgrim is that he seemed to have conflict with his own exes but in a different way. Among Scott’s exes were a high-school girl named Knives, a rock goddess, and the drummer in the band. Scott broke up with Knives to be with Ramona, and as a result she tried to win him back. The rock goddess returned to Scott’s life trying to play both hard-to-get and to crush Scott entirely by showing off her new beaux. The drummer, while didn’t do anything, threw in some snide remarks at Scott and apparently held something against him but in the end respected him after he apologized to her for dumping her in the first place. Dave didn’t have any extra baggage or internal struggles. He was just simply trying to stay alive and stop crime. Although Nicholas Cage met his untimely end possibly symbolizing what will happen to those pretending to be superheroes, there was no big fight within Dave as whether or not he should be a superhero. Yes, he quits in the end, but he decides that after defeating the boss. It’s similar to if Superman were to hang up his cape after defeating Lex Luthor: it’s not that symbolic; the job’s done.

10)   With the comic book and video game undertones, Scott Pilgrim really wasn’t meant to be serious – I’ve said this before about three times now, so I’ll sum it up: Kick-Ass apparently served as a more tangible critique of the superhero than Watchmen was by having somebody dress up as a superhero and show what would happen to him if he did and what needed to happen in order to survive as one. Scott Pilgrim was probably about one kid’s fight to win someone’s heart as if it were explained by the titular character and someone took it literally. The whole idea of beating up “evil exes” with random martial arts and having random ideas popping out of nowhere like psychic powers and vegan cops obviously can’t happen in real life, but that’s what made the movie funny. Scott Pilgrim was obviously created for entertainment’s sake and didn’t mean to be taken literally, whereas Kick-Ass was supposed to show why no one in real life runs around pretending to be a superhero.

So there you have it. I have now given ten reasons as to how the two movies are not similar, and the criticism saying otherwise is therefore incorrect. Now if you get the chance, check out Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when you can because it’s out on DVD, and the movie is really cool.


2 responses

  1. I think it’s hard to compare Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim – although they are both based off comic books, the Kick Ass movie was largely an action movie while the Scott Pilgrim movie was a comedy. So we ended up with two different movies with very different goals.

    January 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    • That was exactly my point, but some people have compared the two.

      January 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm

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