Inherent in the challenges Scott recieves from the various exes.
I Know Karate: The movie starts out as a hyper-stylized Romantic Comedy until the first evil-ex arrives, and suddenly Scott is showing proficiency in martial arts and Improvised Weapons. It then returned to Romantic Comedy, then the action quotient finally takes hold with the second evil-ex and Scott realizing that this is going to be a constant battle.
Insistent Terminology: Every time Scott refers to her "evil ex-boyfriends", Ramona corrects him with "exes". With a goodreason. In fact, the reveal occurs right in the middle of Scott finally asking why.
Instant Costume Change: Scott pulls this off at several points with his hat whenever someone brings up his hair. He also changes clothes completely at one point just by walking into and out of a room, not even interrupting the conversation he was having with Wallace.
Invincibility Power-Up: Considering the Power of Self Respect has its own little theme tune, and tears though Gideon's mooks like nothing else, it has a couple of Super Star elements. Shame it gets shattered during Round Two with Gideon.
Ironic Echo: In a Deleted Scene Ramona smokes on her first date with Scott stating that she smokes "only on special occasions." Scott takes this as a good sign. Skip a few scenes, Scott orders two alcoholic beverages and Ramona states she thought he didn't drink. He comes back with, "Only on special occasions," the occasion being angsting over having to fight her evil exes.
It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Todd has superpowers because he's vegan. And something about the Vegan Academy and Vegan Police who monitor all their members to make sure they stay vegan.
Jerk Ass: This seems to be a defining trait of the kind of people Ramona used to date, including Scott himself. (he gets better).
Kick the Dog: Two of these involving Knives: when Todd punches the highlights out of her hair, and when Gideon busts out his little "kung pao chicken" nugget (complete with video game captions saying "BAD!").
Katanas Are Just Better: Except in one instance: Gideon's cane sword, which appears double edged. Played straight in every other instance.
Scott: I don't think anything can get in the way of how I- SHIT!
Let's Get Dangerous: Scott acts goofy, but shows some of this in the Evil Exes fights, especially against Patel:
Matthew Patel: (flying and crashing through a wall to make his entrance)MISTER PILGRIMMMM!!!(lands in front of Sex Bob-Omb) It is I, Matthew Patel! Consider our fight... BEGUN! (Matthew leaps into the air, intent on punching/landing on Scott.) Scott: What did I do? (pause) What do I do? Wallace: FIIIIIGHT! (Scott glares at Matthew, then disconnects and hands off his bass. Cue retaliation.)
One for Sex Bob-omb as a group (they're little more than a garage band) when they face off against the Katayanagi Twins, whose amps and keyboard music are so awesome that they blow off the roof and summon twin dragons with The Power of Rock to blow away Sex Bob-omb's stage. Surely it's all over for them, but suddenly they get back up, continue their song, and summon a giant yeti to pound the crap out of the dragons.
Like Reality Unless Noted: The fact that you can kill people without leaving behind a body to examine, and that they turn into money, and that no one seems to notice or care about the bodycount or the destruction caused, doesn't seem to have affected anything. And then there's extra lives...
Lost Love Montage: During Envy's phone call, we see the progression of Scott and Natalie's relationship as a series of photobooth pictures.
Loud Gulp: Scott Pilgrim does this when he's about to be beat up by Lucas Lee's stunt doubles.
Love Dodecahedron: Scott, who has previously been with Kim and Envy (who brutally broke up with him), leaves Knives for Ramona. Knives dates Young Neil in an attempt to get Scott jealous and notice her. Ramona also has the seven evil exes who want to control Ramona's love life, one of whom Envy left Scott for. Near the end it seems Ramona's falling back for the 7th evil ex, which leads Scott to fight him for Ramona and Knives to to fight Ramona for revenge for stealing Scott from her.
Wallace tells Scott to break out the L-word, which is "love", not "lesbians". This is rendered effortlessly into Japanese with breaking out the re-word, which is "ren'ai" (true love), not "rezu".
The Polish version has the original L-word, with "lesbijka" and the word "miłość" (love) replaced with "loffciam" - a slang word used by Dumb Blondes, which actually originated from the English "love".
Horribly done in the Hebrew subtitles, which change "lesbian" into "girl love" to make them start with the same letter (actually the same word). Later Scott confesses to Ramona: "I'm in girl love with you" (which makes her puzzled expression even more appropriate). Then again, in Hebrew the movie is titled "My Girlfriends' Exes", which is an appropriate, but terrible title.
That part's French translation is "the A-word" because "love" is "amour" in French. Replacing "lesbian" is "abstinence", which somehow works in practice (translated back):
Wallace: You have to break out the A-word. Scott: Abstinent? Wallace: The other A-word. Scott: ... abstinence? (later, to Ramona) Scott: I'm abstinent with you. Ramona: What?
In Finnish, no letter is mentioned at all:
Wallace: Päästä se sana ilmoille. (Get the word out.)
Scott: "Lesbo", vai? ("Lesbian", or...?)
Wallace: Se toinen. (The other one.)
Scott: "Lesbot"? ("Lesbians"?)
Wallace: Hain sanaa "rakkaus". (I was looking for the word "love".)
In Danish, they keep it as the L-word by translating "lesbian" into "lesbisk" and saying "love" in English.
Icelandic has it as the Á-word - "Álagalessa" (what Scott says) vs. "Ást" (what Wallace says).
Male Gaze: During the fight between Ramona and Roxy, Ramona somersaults into the air and we get a very good look up her skirt. We see her shorts and her legs in tights.
Man in White: Todd Ingram, Kyle Katayanagi. Gideon Graves's white blazer is suitably iconic as well.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Somewhat arguable, since Ramona tends to keep Scott at a distance, but an interviewer has suggested this trope is true of Ramona. If going by the idea that the film is from Scott's perspective, thus robbing other characters of Character Development due to his self-obsession (see the Pragmatic Adaptation entry), then it's certainly possible Scott sees Ramona as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and this shallow idea of her thus spills into the film's depiction. She is referred to as Scott Pilgrim's "deadpan pixie dream girl" in a review on Amazon by Bret Fetzer.
Just before meeting Roxy for the first time, Scott is haunted by a number of earlier, throwaway lines (e.g. "it's sudden death now," "she's got battle scars") when the seven evil exes thing is really starting to sink in.
This also happened when Scott came back from death due to the extra life that he picked up after the fight with the Katayanagi Twins. Right before he realized this, Ramona's first line in the movie ("You're not alone.") is echoed.
Modesty Bedsheet: played with in the His'n'Hers Bedsheet flavor; one scene has Scott's torso covered by a sheet, whereas it only reaches Ramona's waist (though she is still "censored" by wearing a bra, hence the playing with).
Mood Whiplash: Todd punching Knives is a genuinely shocking moment, which makes the humorous lines immediately afterward a little awkward. Really though, Mood Whiplash is what this movie is all about, with jarring over the top action sequences suddenly slamming into the middle of otherwise benign scenes, usually with no warning. Hilariously showcased with the cut between the night at Ramona's and... Seinfeld.
Multiple Endings: Reshoots were done in early 2010, partially to address poor test screening responses to the original ending. The current ending, in which Scott ends up together with Ramona, was part of this reshoot. The original ending, in which Scott goes back to Knives, is included on the DVD. As well, director Edgar Wright hoped to film a DVD-exclusive gag ending, never intended to be taken seriously, in which the whole movie was All Just a Dream...until a news report reveals that a certain Toronto resident and his girlfriend have been arrested in connection to the murders of seven people, including a film star, a record producer, and three beloved musicians. Time ran out before this could be shot, unfortunately.
It's also pointed out that after Bryan Lee O' Malley decide to change the ending where Scott goes of on his own to him winding up with Romana Edgar Wright decided to do the same.
Alternatively, the whole movie could be employing a variation of the hypotheses using "video game rules" instead of "musical numbers," i.e.: There is no high-score table in real life. Dead people don't burst into coins. Power-ups don't exist. So how do you make sense of a work of fiction where they do?
My Girl Is Not a Slut: Basically averted. Almost no one comments much on Ramona's number or variety of past romantic partners - when Scott does gripe about it, it's less about the number of them and more about how they're, ya know, trying to kill him.
Two exceptions are Kim's apparent disapproval that Ramona dated twins (at the same time), and a drunken Scott asking if she's slept with everyone in the room. Ramona takes it very personally. Probably not brought up because Scott has a sizable number of exes himself: Lisa, Holly, Kim, Natalie/Envy, Knives, and Ramona.
Scott's sister mistook Ramona for having eleven evil ex's, which Scott corrects to seven. "Oh, that's not that bad then."
My Hero Zero: Just like all of the evil exes are associated with a number, our hero Scott is associated with zero.
The outfits Sex Bob-omb wear at the end are identical to what they're wearing for their show in Volume 3.
Multiple cameos by Honest Ed's, an historical bargain store that served as a major location in the graphic novel but wasn't written into the film.
The two dragons summoned by the film's Katayanagi Twins were not involved in the book's version of their battle with Scott, but resemble the dragons surrounding Volume 4's logo (itself a reference to a logo for Double Dragon).
Julie lists a Lisa and a Holly as the girls Scott has had flings with, with both names taken from supporting characters of the graphic novels cut from the film (though neither had previous sexual history with Scott). Lisa Miller was Scott's platonic best friend in high school, who came to Toronto in a major subplot of Volume 4 and almost hooked up with Scott; their past is partially seen in the [adult swim]Animated Adaptation. Holly was Kim's roommate.
Scott's mug in the beginning has the picture of Ramona's cat from the comic, Gideon, on it.
Flashbacks and Stephen Stills's drawings are done in O'Malley's art style.
When the Vegan Police show up during the Todd fight to strip him of his powers, Todd asks what he's done wrong (other than half-and-half). The Police mention gelato (how he broke veganism in the comics) and chicken Parmesan (which Envy asked them about in the comics).
Wallace mentions that Lucas Lee is in Toronto filming a "Winifred Hailey movie," referring to a female teenage movie star featured in a 2006 short Scott Pilgrim story released for Free Comic Book Day6.
No Smoking: As a running joke in the comics, Scott considered smoking to be a habit indicating pure evil. The film attempted to adapt the gag: Scott would react to Ramona's own smoking habit with shock, and Lucas Lee would constantly smoke with a floating black censor bar (similar to Julie's when she swears) covering up the cigarette. The former ended up a deleted scene; the latter was abandoned after test footage (found on the Blu-Ray) proved it looked too silly. As a result, no one smokes in the film.
When the relationship between Scott and Ramona begins to deteriorate, in a moment of frustration, Ramona tells Scott that he's just another Evil Ex waiting to happen.
On a related note, when Scott busts into the Chaos Arena to confront Gideon, he does so in a manner identical to that which many of the Evil Exes have attacked him over the course of the movie.
It slowly becomes clear throughout the course of the movie that Scott has nearly as many Evil Exes as Ramona. It wouldn't have been too difficult for the movie to be centered around Scott moving to Ramona's city, and her having to fight his exes.
Director Edgar Wright has confirmed that Scott and each of the Evil Exes has their rank number featured during their respective scenes. Appearances known thus far:
0: Scott. Drinks Coke Zero and wears a shirt with "Zero" on it. Gideon refers to him by saying "you're zero, you're nothing!" in the final fight. 1: Matthew Patel. Identifies himself as "first", has his one eye covered by his emover, keeps pointing with one finger. Has a single chevron on his sleeve. Poses with one arm in the air, looking like the number one. Wallace also refers to him as "It's that one guy!" 1 1/2. Ramona claims that she went out with Matthew Patel (#1) for "a week and a half". Her next boyfriend was Lucas Lee (#2). She dyes her hair a different color every week and a half. Scott tells Wallace that he got to "first and a half base" with Ramona. 2: Lucas Lee. Just prior to his scene, Scott and Ramona pass two "X crossing" signs, and a crosswalk sign that counts down from 2. During the scene proper, the number appears on a prop car, as a tattoo on his neck, and on a trailer. Lee notes that Scott must be "seeing double," and that it will take "two minutes... to kick your ass" (which he says twice). Lee punches Scott twice to knock him out before the fight. The woman who sprays Lee's fist does so twice. Lee's ringtone is two beeps. Wallace notes that the stunt doubles get Lee's "sloppy seconds." Lee points at Scott with two fingers, and has two X's on his belt buckle. "2" is tattooed on his neck. In the "Cold Call" film-within-the-film we see, Lee's character refers to the two clicks his opponent will hear. Ramona dated Lucas in the 9th grade, two years after Patel. Lee claims there are "like, two hundred steps" on the grind rail. Before facing Lee, Scott learns the bassline to Final Fantasy II. 3: Todd Ingram. The Clash At Demonhead has 3 members. Wears the number on his shirt; has three stripes on each sleeve; has three stripes on each wristband; there's a particularly noticeable three on the wall of the dressing room; hurls Scott through three walls; Scott is thrown into a number of garbage cans with multiple 3's spray-painted on them; the words "Bass Battle" flash three times on screen; both Scott and Todd one-up each other three times before the end of the bass battle. Envy wears a shirt with three stripes as well. Also had three strikes against Vegan Law. Although oddly, he says "You'll be dust in two seconds." 4: Roxy Richter. The fight takes place in a club simply called "4". The club itself is full of four-bulb light fixtures. Also, instead of being called "Roxie" like in the books, her name was changed to "Roxy" to have four letters. Her battle(s) with Scott is in four parts (in the snow, versus Ramona alone, versus Ramona-Scott, and versus Scott alone). The two girls are/were bisexual (2x2). The DVD trivia track points out she has four tears in her lace tights. Additionally the floor, disco ball, and Roxy's weapon are comprised of squares. 4 1/2. Scott is wearing a t-shirt featuring the Fantastic Four's "4" logo with an additional "1/2" doodled on it, halfway between battles 4 and 5. 5 & 6: Katayanagi Twins. he Twins turn the dial on their music Up to Eleven (though the numbers are in Japanese).The first two notes they play on their keyboards are an E (the fifth letter after A) and a Bb, a tritone (or 6 half-steps) above E. Additionally their names and last name start with K, the eleventh letter of the alphabet (5 + 6 = 11).
Interestingly, one of them has the rising sun on his shirt and with a total of seven beams. However, this is Ken, who is number 6. Possibly symbolic of them working for Gideon.
7: Gideon Graves. G is the seventh letter of the alphabet. The Chaos Theatre is introduced on-screen as "level 7." The second run scene is filled with bonus points and multipliers that use the number 7. Gideon becomes upset that his swallowed gum will be in his system for 7 years. Gideon activates a x7 multiplier when he summons his digi-tana and gets +7x7 bonuses to his 'stats'.
In addition, each Ex's number briefly flashes in the background when their respective actor's name is listed in the opening credits sequence.
Also along similar notes, the score for defeating each ex is the proper multiple of 1000, at least till the very end. Played twice after the battle with the Katayanagi Twins, where the score starts at 5000 and slowly climbs to 6000. Defeating Gideon the first time earns 7000 points, and for the final time earns 7 billion (!) points, which may include the multipliers Scott earned after using his 1-UP. His minions are all worth 700 points when defeated, and minor boosts during the scene result in half that (350).
This has some Fridge Brilliance regarding Nega-Scott. The reason why the two don't end up fighting? Negative zero is still zero.
Obvious Stunt Double: Invoked when Scott has to battle Lucas Lee's stunt doubles, some of which are roughly one head shorter than Lucas Lee himself and a few of which appear to be of different ethnicities. Note that the Lucas Lee's stunt doubles are played by Chris Evans' actual stunt doubles.
Offscreen Reality Warp: Basis of a running gag, in which Scott will put on a hat when embarrassed by his shaggy hair. In fact, he retrieves and puts on the hat in the split-second between the other person commenting on his hair and the cut back to Scott.
Offscreen Teleportation: The characters do this constantly. Envy and Ramona manage to enter a coffee shop and get behind Scott undetected, Stacey does the same leaving said coffee shop, Todd somehow moves from behind two broken walls to a door the moment the camera moves from him, and so forth.
Kotaku: The reviewer explains that yes, it is based on a comic book, but that its heavy use of gaming culture in-jokes and tropes makes it a good video game movie, particularly if one thinks The Wizard or Gamer are also video game movies.
Within the film, Ramona describes Scott as "the nicest guy I've ever dated". She's only dated seven other people, and she repeatedly calls all of them evil. Well, she's dated seven people who turned out to be evil. She may have dated others who just...didn't end up evil.
In the comic she briefly mentions dating a guy who wasn't evil, he was just a dick.
Apart from all the random video game noises, this is also averted with the one game we see: "Ninja Ninja Revolution" actually looks like a real arcade game (although some of the moves the characters use to play it are unrealistically acrobatic and, frankly, unnecessary).
Stylistic elements, captions, and Unsound Effects—for actual sounds—are projected on screen and treated as if they're physically real. In one fight scene, a "SMAK" caption comes up and shatters. In the next shot, the remains of it can be seen scattered behind Scott.
A more conventional example is when the movie keeps cutting from one scene to another, with the implication Scott has been completely zoned out for the intervening time. This mirrors the graphic novels, where if the reader doesn't see it happen, Scott doesn't know about it.
People Puppets: A mundane version. Scott is unwilling to hit a girl, which is a big disadvantage in his fight with Roxie. So, Ramona helps him by spinning him, twirling him, and hitting him in pressure points to get him to attack Roxie.
Pet the Dog: Lucas Lee has a lot of faith in his stunt doubles, claiming he'd be nothing without them. One in particular he seems especially fond of, Lucas stating he'll let him do the occasional wide-angle shot when Lee is...indisposed. It helps that Lucas is probably the least "evil" of all the exes and seems to be fighting Scott out of obligation more than anything else.
Not that he's bad at all, but Wallace seems genuinely fond of Knives for some reason.
Power of Friendship: When Scott finally battles the Big BadGideon, his only chance to win is when his friend Knives steps in and battles alongside him.
The Power of Love: Scott Pilgrim gains this "superpower", in the form of a sword popping out of his chest, but he loses it in the process of the final battle. Then he dies, and tries again with the Power of Self-Respect. He does better, but still can't cut it: in the end it's The Power of Friendship (teaming up with Knives) that wins the day.
The Power of Rock: It can Summon glowing Dragons and a Yeti. In solo duels, Scott's power of rock is sadly lacking compared to his opponents, both in how cool it sounds as well as what it actually accomplishes.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The supporting cast, especially the female characters (with the exception of Knives), don't get much of their character development from the books. But when you cram a six-volume graphic novel series into a two-hour movie, something's gotta give. Notably, one of the major themes of the books is Scott learning that other people have their own lives outside of his, while in the film, everyone's moon orbits Planet Scott to such a degree that reviews and cast members have suggested the film takes place entirely within his own head.
Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Plenty, but there is one notable instance when Kim does it for Scott as they're about to play the fight's background music:
Kim:WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB, AND WE'RE HERE TO WATCH SCOTT PILGRIM KICK YOUR TEETH IN!
"MISTER LEE!" [Camera pans around]. "You're needed back on set."
"You once were a vegone, but now you will be gone."
Precision F-Strike: "I don't think anything could get in the way of how I—SHIT!" Of course, "shit" is an incredibly minor swear in Canada, and this movie is incredibly Canadian.
Product Placement: Seemingly all over the place. Coke Zero. Every product, store, and service featured in the movie except for "4" and the Chaos Theatre are actual Canadian brands. Scott rides the TTC, goes to Pizza Pizza (Nine six seven.. eleven.. eleven!), shops at Goodwill, wears a CBC t-shirt, uses Beatrice brand half-and-half, and his sister works at Second Cup. Even Spike TV airs in Canada. However, according to the director/screenwriter/comic author commentary, the only company that actually paid to have its product placed in the film was Research In Motion, the Canadian company that is the maker of Blackberry smartphones. Everything else was an artistic choice on the part of the filmmakers.
Pun: It is chock full of these, particularly coming from Roxy and Gideon. And they are all amazing. "Chau down" is carried over from the comic, and paired with "Ciao, Knives" for maximum abuse. "Ve-gone" is so bad it gets lampshaded. And who can forget "What are you doing?" "Getting a life!"