How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Song of Solomon 4:1
So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
What if dealing with the baggage of your significant other’s former relationships was like a Kung Fu video game? That’s the ingenious premise behind Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Does that sound ri diculous? Well, of course, it does. But it completely works in this movie! From the moment the movie opens with the Universal logo pixilated in the style of an old-school Nintendo video game you know that you’re in for a good time.
The movie follows the story of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), an unambitious 22-year-old loser who spends his time with his band and his “high school girlfriend,” Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). But then something happens. Scott falls in love with the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Soon, Scott makes two discoveries: 1) Ramona actually wants to date him, and 2) if they’re going to date, Scott will have to defeat her seven exes, more dramatically known as “The League of Seven Evil Exes.”
When her first evil ex shows up, the movie (which is already stylized like a comic book) jumps into a hyper-reality. Suddenly, Scott finds himself in an anime-style video game type of mortal combat to the death with Ramona’s first evil ex, Satya Babha (Matthew Patel).
Over the course of the movie, Scott continues to do battle with all of Ramona’s evil exes. The final battle is with Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), Ramona’s most recent ex. In video game terms, this is the “boss level.” Here, Scott finally earns (in perfect video game style) “the power of self-respect,” increasing all of his battle abilities, and ending, of course, with the defeat of Gideon.
Relationships are hard. Every person brings their past into each of their new relationships. And sometimes it feels like the new relationship has to overcome the power and influence of the old relationships. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a creative way of presenting that particular challenge.
The most intriguing aspect of this film is the distinction it draws between the power of “love” and the power of “self-respect.” Scott battles Gideon twice. The first time Scott finally tells Ramona that he loves her and earns “the power of love,” which increases his battle abilities. Unfortunately, it’s not enough; Scott is destroyed by Gideon. However, thanks to the extra life he earned earlier in the movie (remember, this is a video game!), Scott gets a second shot at Gideon. This time Scott earns “the power of self-respect,” which thrusts his battle abilities way beyond Gideon’s.
This is a great lesson for teenagers and young adults. So often, the culture tells us that there is no greater power than love, that love will conquer all, that “all you need is love.” But is that really true? Sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes what you need is confidence. Sometimes what you need is to know that you’re good enough.
That’s what Scott Pilgrim learns. And that’s what makes it possible for him to get the girl in the end.
1. Have you ever been in love? What was/is that like? What’s great about being in love? What’s hard about being in love? What role do former relationships play in your current relationship?
2. Scott’s inner battle is the constant doubt that his relationship with Ramona is secure? Have you ever felt this way?
3. Why do you think “the power of love” was not enough to defeat Gideon, Ramona’s final evil ex?
4. What finally gave Scott the ability to defeat Gideon? Why do you think “the power of self-respect” is more powerful than “the power of love” ?
5. Read Genesis 1:27 and 1 John 3:1a. How might verses like these increase our sense of self-respect? How might understanding the truths of these verses affect our relationships?