Impurity of Comic Cinema: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Written by Qiumeng Wang

In Bazin’s era, people are debating the independency and legitimacy of films that comes from literature. In the post-cinema era, hybridisation and IP adaption are quite normal. As a film, absorbing nutrition from different media is bestowing more value and functions meeting with audience needs. The impurity of cinema that originally debated the relationship between cinema and literature are expanded in the mixed world of cinema, theatre, music, comics and even games.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, this film is describing that a slacker musician Scott Pilgrim defeats his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to win her heart. This is a popcorn movie due to its simple story and entertaining visual effects. Because it is adapted from a comic, its visual style implements game and comic elements, which goes beyond the border of comic and animation and makes this movie super exciting.

There is a sequence from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Scott Fights the Katayanagi Twins, from which we can see how game and comic elements involves and contributes to its form as a unique cinema.

In above video, for example, when the two bands are fighting, the film visualised the power of each actions through the fight between two monsters.

Besides, there are other sequences applying game and comic style as follows:

Picture 1: The loading bar to indicating the progression status during his pee.

Picture 2: In the beginning, the introduction of each characters are shown as the brand with “rating system”.

Picture 3: In the fight, level up and one more live are applied to show the fighting situation.

Picture 4: Using number to account the fight and combo.

This film clearly displayed the hybridisation and impurity in a post-cinematic work. Film as a medium successfully bridges game and comic, not only in terms of the content and plot, but also in the aspect of form and visual style. Some people regard its visual style as an imitation to game and comics and a lost of film’s independency. In my view, such imitation is not an embarrassment but a representative of “impure cinema”. Digital technology helps this film to achieve the unity of form and content, which makes it a “comic book film” called by Otaku. The impurity of, to certain extent, expanded the visual language of cinema by combing two media forms together.

“The success of filmed theatre serves the theatre, as literary adaptation serves literature.(Bazin)”

The success of filmed comic also serves the comic book. Impure cinema or even impure media may give a new life for any existed works.



Bazin, A., For an Impure Cinema: In Defence of Adaptation. What is Cinema, pp.107-37.

Tan. X (2013) On Impurity Theory of French Film Aesthetics.


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