All posts by Emily Hanss

Scott Pilgrim and the Monomyth

At first glance, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seemed like an unconvential choice compared to the other films we have watched in this class. However, after watching the movie, I was reminded of Joseph Campbell because Edgar Wright included many of his ideas. I think that this film embodies Campbell’s monomyth in a current day context. Campbell defines the monomyth as, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons upon his fellow man.”

The monomyth is essentially the storyline of Scott Pilgrim in his quest to win over Ramona Flowers. At the beginning of the film, we see Scott living an ordinary, mundane life. He is in a mediocre band, is still hung up on his ex-girlfriend who broke his heart, and he is dating a high schooler which reuslts in ridicule from his friends and family. When Scott meets Ramona and decides to pursue her, he is thrown into a supernatural world filled with “fabulous forces.”  He answers his call to action when he comes face to face with the first evil ex, Matthew Patel. Scott then has to go through a series of trials (the remaining 6 exes) to reach his goal of being with Ramona. This follows the storyline of the monomyth because he has to overcome great challenges along his journey, and each ex has a supernatural power he must defeat.

The film has all three phases of the monomyth- the departure, the initiation, and the return. Scott enters the departure when he has answered the call to action from Matthew Patel and begins his journey to conquer the evil exes. His intitation includes all of the battles against the exes, and he receives some help along the way from Ramona. The return is when he has defeated Gideon and gains new self-knowledge and the reward of being with Ramona. At the end of Scott’s journey, he faces the greatest challenge of all when he must face Gideon. In this battle, Scott learns that he must have self respect which is much more powerful than love in defeating Gideon. Scott does not reach his goal on his own and he needs Knives to assist him, which is also consistent with Campbell’s mythology because people help the hero along the way. At the end of the film, Scott achieves his personal goal of being with Ramona, but he also “bestows boons on fellow men.” Scott not only defeats Gideon, but he makes peace with himself (his evil side who is actually “a great guy”)  and realizes the importance of self respect. Scott’s self awareness and acceptance of himself is what allows him to be emotionally ready to be with Ramona. This is a message that many people can relate to, especially young adults, whom this film seems to target. Scott learns an important lesson that everyone must learn in their life, but not many of us will learn it by conquering a league of evil exes.

-Emily Hanss