Edgar Wright has made some of the most acclaimed and beloved films of the 2000s, with the Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), and a few other favorites like Baby Driver. Nestled in-between is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a box office bomb but adored cult film based on the Bryan Lee O’Malley comic series. Co-written with Michael Bacall, the Scott Pilgrim script is a wonderful example of how to write a comedic, comic book inspired, video game infused love story that defies categorization.

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Edgar Wright Headshot - StudioBinder
Michael Bacall Headshot - StudioBinder
Bryan Lee O'Malley Headshot - StudioBinder

WHO WROTE the SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD SCRIPT?

Written by Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall, based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Edgar Wright is an acclaimed English director/screenwriter/producer who is known for his unique comedic style that is exemplified in his British TV program Spaced and the films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End (all of which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost).

Michael Bacall is a Hollywood actor and screenwriter, whose credits for screenplays include Manic (which he also acted in), Project X, and 21 and 22 Jump Street.

Bryan Lee O’Malley is a Canadian illustrator and writer, best known for his Scott Pilgrim series. He has also worked on other projects, most recently as a writer on Snotgirl, his first on-going comic book series.

STORY BREAKDOWN

STRUCTURE OF the SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD SCREENPLAY

Here is the story structure for the Scott Pilgrim vs the World screenplay:

Exposition

Scott Pilgrim is a 22-year-old Canadian slacker who is dating a high schooler and plays bass in his friends’ band and everything is awesome.

Inciting Incident

Scott encounters mystery delivery girl Ramona Flowers in his dream, and then later in real life, at which point he falls right in love with her (as the girl of his dreams) and asks her out the next chance he gets.

Plot Point One

As he starts to date Ramona, Scott still has to dump his fake high school girlfriend, Knives Chau (who does not take it well), while also playing with his band Sex Bob-Omb, who want to get signed by G-Man Graves for a record contract, which is done via a series of Battles of the Band.

Rising Action

It turns out Scott has to fight Ramona’s League of Evil Exes in order to continue dating her; he learns this between fighting Ramona’s 1st and 2nd exes. So long as they’re still dating, Scott seems more than okay with this.

Midpoint

After Scott encounters his own ex and Ramona’s 3rd evil ex (and defeats him), he is getting physically and mentally tired of all this fighting and almost dying. He then encounters and fight’s Ramona’s 4th evil ex, at which point he’s very exhausted and hurts Ramona’s feelings by talking about it in such a negative light. She leaves him, implying that they might be breaking up; Scott realizes he may have screwed up here.

Plot Point Two

Scott and his band get to fight Ramona’s 5th and 6th evil exes in a Battle of the Bands. This is also where Scott learns that G-Man is Gideon Gordon Graves, Ramona’s 7th evil ex. At this point, Scott is more determined than ever, and defeats evil exes 5 and 6, but Gideon convinces Sex Bob-Omb to sign with him, while Ramona says it’s over and Scott is on his own. No band, no girl, no hope.

Build Up

Scott may be at a low point, but then Gideon calls him to sort of rub it in his face that he’s with Ramona now. This, along with his roommate Wallace’s encouragement, inspires him to go to Gideon’s Chaos Theatre and fight him.

Finale

So Scott actually dies and gets killed by Gideon. Ramona talks to Scott while he’s “on the other side” and lets him know that maybe Scott should have been fighting for someone else: himself. Scott then uses the 1-Up that he got during the last Battle of the Bands, goes back to the Chaos Theatre to fight Gideon for his own sake, teams up with Knives, admits he cheated on them, and they defeat Gideon.

Denouement

After one final “fight” with his darker self (Nega Scott), Scott, Knives, and Ramona reconvene. Ramona decides to leave and Scott accepts it….but Knives tells Scott to pursue her. After all, he did just go through a lot for her sake. So he tells Ramona he wants to go with her; “I was thinking we could try again.” Ramona and Scott, hand in hand, walk off into the great unknown.

Scott Pilgrim Script Takeaway #1

Scott Pilgrim’s humorous world-building

In the finished film, and especially in the script, we get a feel for this world pretty much immediately. Wright & Bacall pack the Scott Pilgrim vs the World screenplay with a boatload of details and information, much of which the audience will see on-screen. This can be found in the first couple pages, where we get the initial set-up for Scott’s life, friends, and most of his relationships.

Importing the Scott Pilgrim script into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software lets us easily look at the screenplay and discern the details the writers have left for the reader. You can see how, in this first page, the characters are introduced briefly and simply, with accompanying dialogue. Which gives us a very quick idea of who they are and what they might think of Scott’s situation.

Scott Pilgrim script  •  Introducing Scott Pilgrim, characters, traits, and situations

Another example that’s more direct with text and info for both the script and finished film is when we meet Scott’s younger sister Stacey. On top of having text about Stacey (taken straight from the comics), we also have a detail about a humorous sign at the coffee shop she works at.

Scott Pilgrim script  •  Read the whole scene here

There are many details written up and down the screenplay, but these early ones clue us into the movie’s world, which is then fleshed out and powered by our next takeaway.

Scott Pilgrim Script Takeaway #2

Scott Pilgrim characters and dialogue

Details are important, but the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World script is almost completely powered by its characters and their dialogue. Without it, we would never get to those details (or awesome action scenes).

One extremely funny moment comes when Scott encounters Julie at The Second Cup coffee shop, where she starts dropping censored F-bombs on him. As you can see below, Wright & Bacall let the reader know how these F-bombs are meant to be executed and why they appear the way they do in the script.

Scott Pilgrim characters  •  Humorous censorship

Another example is from the same scene when Scott runs into Ramona. It begins as a serious conversation but becomes faux-serious (thanks to a well placed swear) when Scott realizes his (evil) ex, Envy, is in the coffee shop. 

Scott Pilgrim quotes  •  Punctuating the moment

Both of these moments also give more clues into the lives of our characters, such as how Julie is angry and works multiple jobs, Scott’s anxiety, Ramona’s doubts, and how imposing of a figure Envy is.

You can take a look at how this scene (both moments included) was executed in the final film. While the dialogue is all there and already funny on paper, Aubrey Plaza makes it her own in hilarious fashion, while Cera’s performance perfectly pulls off the abrupt swear when Envy shows up.

Scott Pilgrim quotes  •  Julie, Envy, Ramona, and Scott

These are just a couple examples from the script that show Scott Pilgrim’s fantastic dialogue and characters, but there are so many other examples, so we really do recommend you read the full Scott Pilgrim script to see them all.

Some of this highly quotable dialogue includes:

“Scott, if your life had a face I would punch it.”

“Bread makes you FAT??”

“Break out the L-word.” “Lesbian?” “The other L-word.” “Lesbians?”

“We have unfinished business, I and he!” “He and me.” “Don’t you talk to me about grammar!”

“Freeze! Vegan Police!”

“Back off, hasbian.”

“Maybe next time let’s not date the girl with eleven evil ex-boyfriends.” “Seven.” “Oh. Well that’s not so bad.”

“Yeah, their first album is so much better than their first album.”

Scott Pilgrim Script Takeaway #3

Scott Pilgrim’s fight scenes

What would a movie about fighting evil exes be without fight scenes? Once this part of the plot is firmly established, the Scott Pilgrim vs the World script takes us through a series of these. Each combines the detailed world building, unique characters, and funny dialogue to create immensely entertaining fight scenes.

Scott’s 2nd evil ex fight against Lucas Lee is highly entertaining for how it plays out over an actual movie set in the middle of filming. It allows us to meet Lucas, see how cocky he is, and how starstruck Scott is to meet him. You can also, quite clearly, see how Lucas then punches Scott twice and throws him into Casa Loma effortlessly.

Scott Pilgrim script  •  Scott Pilgrim characters

This well written piece of action is then executed wonderfully in the film, which uses VFX and editing, and of course the performances of the actors, to create a hilarious moment that flows flawlessly.

Scott Pilgrim quotes  •  “Scott. Evil ex. Fight.”

But of course, the big fight comes at the end when Scott faces off against Gideon. What’s most interesting is how this scene differs in the script versus the finished film. Specifically, how elements of the fight in the script are condensed or rearranged in the movie.

You can take a look at the excerpt below for an example; it describes Gideon creating his new sword, how not-so involved Ramona is in the fight, and how Knives and Scott team up to take G-man for good.

Scott Pilgrim script  •  Read the whole scene here

You can compare the complete fight to the one we see in the film, where some of what’s in the script is still there, while some other actions have been removed, along with the rearranging of when certain things happen.

Scott Pilgrim characters  •  final fight executed by Wright

Through its combination of detailed world building, funny dialogue, memorable characters, and well written and directed action, Wright & Bacall created a movie that has only built up fans in the years since its release. It stands as a wonderful example of an entertaining script that turned into an entertaining movie that continues to be unlike anything else out there.

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Adapting a comic book can be daunting, but Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall, along with an impressive cast, pulled it off like nobody's business with their Scott Pilgrim script. If you want to continue reading screenplays like the Scott Pilgrim script, we have similar titles like The Office, Seinfeld, and Superbad in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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