When the inside track got here that Netflix used to be making an animated model of Scott Pilgrim, person who introduced again the entire unique movie actors (together with the director and collection author), it raised some attention-grabbing questions. Most commonly, I used to be curious simply how a lot would alternate as the tale shifted mediums. Whilst the unique comics and the live-action movie adaptation had their variations, they each nonetheless in large part instructed the similar tale a couple of 20-something slacker from Toronto combating his manner via his female friend’s courting historical past. However for the brand new collection, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, the tale isn’t only a departure — it utterly blows up the timeline.
Observe: This newsletter comprises some spoilers for Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.
In the beginning, it doesn’t truly really feel that manner. For lots of the first episode (of 8), Takes Off performs out like, smartly, an animated model of Scott Pilgrim. There are some superficial variations — Ramona now delivers DVDs for Netflix as an alternative of applications for Amazon, because the display is on Netflix — however differently issues are mainly the similar. That implies it’s a tale about Scott (Michael Cera), who’s nerdy, lazy, and oblivious to the sentiments of everybody round him. He meets the (literal) woman of his desires in Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and so they move out, even though he’s already courting a high-school woman named Knives (Ellen Wong).
After which issues get beautiful bizarre. Ramona, it seems, has seven evil exes, and to be able to date her, Scott has to defeat all of them. It’s mainly a love tale with the construction of a online game, the use of Side road Fighter violence to discover loads of emotional luggage. Takes Off follows that tale up till the first actual struggle between Scott and the preliminary evil ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha). Then it, ahem, takes to the air in every other course.
K, critically: if you wish to steer clear of spoilers, now is the time to depart.
Takes Off is a sequence designed across the concept of what if? On this case, author Bryan Lee O’Malley and co-writer BenDavid Grabinski ask what would occur if Scott in fact misplaced that struggle in opposition to Matthew? And no longer simplest misplaced however used to be pulled right into a mysterious vegan portal in order that no person had any concept the place he used to be? That’s precisely what occurs, and it has a wide variety of ripple results. Matthew will get such a lot self belief from profitable that he is taking over the League of Evil Exes and the multimillion-dollar empire of its chief, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). Knives channels the lack of Scott right into a songwriting occupation along Scott’s bandmate Stephen (Mark Webber). And Ramona turns into a detective of varieties, looking for the kidnapper via investigating each and every doable suspect.
It’s an enormous shift, and as an established fan of the Scott Pilgrim mythos, it used to be numerous a laugh staring at those characters in new eventualities. However the alternate is in fact a lot more important than that. Via casting off Scott from the equation for a big a part of the collection, Takes Off shifts the focal point to everybody else. Ramona, particularly, is now entrance and middle, spending each and every episode having a look into her exes (and others) because the conceivable culprits for Scott’s disappearance.
The result’s that we get a far deeper have a look at characters who prior to now were given quick shrift, specifically within the rapid-paced film. You get to peer Ramona come to phrases with, and ask for forgiveness for, how shitty she used to be to Roxie (Mae Whitman) once they dated, and the way Romana breaking apart with Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) is what impressed him to turn out to be the arena’s most renowned skater / actor within the first position. Even the Katayanagi twins (Shôta and Keita Saitô), who slightly do anything else within the film with the exception of summon an enormous holographic dragon, have a compelling arc. Issues have modified such a lot that Gideon — Gideon! — turns into a sympathetic determine at sure issues.
The tale in the end will get beautiful meta. Younger Neil (Johnny Simmons) writes a screenplay in his sleep, which bears a hanging resemblance to the unique Scott Pilgrim film and in the end it will get changed into a movie. There are characters cosplaying as different characters and a wide variety of alternative weirdness that, I promise, will make sense via the top. I received’t damage the large twists from later, however Takes Off’s meta-ness will get cranked as much as 11, with a wide variety of shenanigans involving time commute and, at one level, a musical. Once more, it’s no longer simply a chance to peer liked characters in bizarre new eventualities but in addition a possibility to research their selections — each on this display and in previous variations of Scott Pilgrim — in a deeper manner.
Inversely, the object that makes Takes Off so attention-grabbing to longtime enthusiasts additionally manner it’s no longer essentially the most productive access level for the collection. Such a lot of the pride I were given from the display got here from how it subverted my expectancies, taking a tale I believed I knew so smartly and twisting it into anything filled with surprises, whilst opening up area for characters who aren’t named Scott. It does nonetheless in the long run observe one of the similar beats and touches at the similar topics of self-awareness and acceptance. And just like the film, it additionally seems cool as hell. As one persona says towards the top: “the sport has modified, however the gamers are the similar.”
I’m no longer certain if it’ll have the similar affect if you haven’t any historical past with the franchise. However both manner, Takes Off does anything highly intelligent for individuals who do have that historical past: remixing a well-recognized story as an alternative of retelling it.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is streaming on Netflix now.