Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a movie that at first glance feels very much of its time. It was the turn of the decade into the 2010s when mustaches and bacon were appearing everywhere and Hot Topic was at its peak. And Edgar Wright's 2010 comic book adaptation leans heavily into the hipster culture of its moment.
But underneath, Scott Pilgrim is far more cunning, weaponizing not only its own nostalgia but the epitomization of its own time to secure a place in film history that ensures this movie will still feel relevant in another 10 years, or longer. By making a movie about nostalgia, Wright created a piece of pop culture that will never go out of style.
For a long time, I purposefully didn't watch Scott Pilgrim. As a die-hard Edgar Wright fan, I knew I was going to love it. I wanted to save it for a rainy day, and what better day than the film's 10th anniversary? So after years of stashing it away, I finally sat down and enjoyed every last second.
I was expecting a nostalgia-fest of my youth, of Paramore CDs and lensless glasses, but instead, I was met with a visually astounding film with a totally unique perspective.
Everything is maximalist, from the visual gags to the split screens to the expertly choreographed fights. Even the parts that were of its own time, like Ramona's distinct haircut or Roxie's studded belt/whip, are exaggerated to the point where they feel like what people today imagine when they think of ten years ago.
Watching it, I didn't feel just nostalgic for 2010. The retro elements incorporated in the 8-bit video game graphics and mechanics, along with comic book imagery, made it seem like a product of the '80s just as much as a product of its time. It takes the way it treats the past and gives that same treatment to its own present.
The subculture Scott lives in, the alt-rock nerd-hipster crowd, thrives on nostalgia. Just like vinyl collections never go out of style, neither do garage bands or classic arcade games. Through generation to generation, someone will claim that the cheesy, fighter-game action style of Scott Pilgrim is the hippest thing around, and tapping into that market has allowed this film to go from timely novelty to immortal cult classic.
Of course, the fact that it's a well-made movie doesn't hurt either. It's classic Edgar Wright, cramming his scenes with references, artistic shots, and a rhythm to everyday action of which he remains constantly in control. The fight scenes are great, the humor is awkward in the best of ways, and the music still rocks. Then, there's that cast. If there's an award for speculating on future acting success, this movie would be a shoo-in, incorporating future icons like Aubrey Plaza, Chris Evans, and Anna Kendrick.
I'm glad I waited ten years for this movie. In 2010, I would have been completely sold, but waiting until I was nostalgic for my own nostalgic phase proved to me that in another ten years, in another twenty, this movie will still strike a chord for anyone who feels like they were born in the wrong era.