Superheroes: The Female Characters in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’

Shot of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’. Copyright goes to Universal Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Over the weekend was actually the first time I watched ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’ in it’s entirety. I know, I know, that’s weird. Most everybody has seen that movie by now. But I can’t say that before watching it I was entirely unfamiliar with it. Almost everybody knows about this movie by now and I also went through a rock and emo phase in high school. I still really love some of the media I watched from that phase! But if you were ever at all even close to having an emo phase, then you definitely know about Ramona Flowers. She was one of the pinnacle punk rock fictional role models for women interested in that genre along with Hermione Granger and Sam from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. These were some of the names of fictional characters you heard tossed around all the time. I’ve known several people who were inspired to dye their hair a vibrant color because of Ramona Flowers. She has also become synonymous with the manic pixie dream girl trope, but I’ll get more into that later. So knowing so much about her going into this movie, I was expecting a lot. I was expecting a lot even from the female characters in this film that weren’t her. And to be honest, I was actually left pretty disappointed. I know a lot of people are angry, please don’t tear my head off! I didn’t hate this movie by any means. But I definitely had some issues with the portrayal of female characters. I know this may be difficult to hear, so just keep and open mind and I’ll try to explain the best I can.

Ramona Flowers:

The first and foremost problem I have with Ramona is that she doesn’t seem to have agency in her own story. Despite the fact that these are her exes, she is never given the chance to actually fight them except for the only female ex that she has for some reason. I suppose she knees Gideon in the crotch once, but that’s it. I know that the story is supposed to be a metaphor for Scott comparing himself to Ramona’s exes and getting over his insecurity, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the time Ramona just stands there while Scott is fighting off an ex of hers. It also doesn’t change the fact that she was allowed to fight Roxy for some reason and none of her guy exes. I’m really tired of shows and movies pairing off the female characters to fight. I also should talk a little bit about the manic pixie dream girl trope as Ramona Flowers is always brought up when this trope comes up. This is the absolute ideal girlfriend for the main character who is quirky in some way and is there to save the male protagonist from himself without having much agency in her own story. Seriously, if you look up ‘manic pixie dream girl’ on Google, a picture of Ramona Flowers is one of the first things that comes up. Ramona’s character development often has to do with Scott and, as I’ve already stated many times, she’s always forced onto the sidelines to literally watch her boyfriend fight her battles for her. With having so much expectations for this character, I was seriously let down with how little she seemed to actually do within the plot. Especially because the idea for her character was intriguing to me.

Knives Chau:

There’s a lot that people have said about Knives Chau from the perspectives of feminism, race, and age. No matter where you turn there seems to be a giant problem with this character. Knives is Scott’s girlfriend before he meets Ramona and this is already an issue considering Scott is twenty two and Knives is seventeen and still in High School. Knives right off the bat is depicted with some pretty bad racial tropes. She goes to a catholic school that requires her to wear a uniform and she is depicted as being very excitable because she’s been so sheltered. This results in her becoming actually obsessed with Scott to the point of being a stalker. Scott later cheats on Knives with Ramona (partly because he hasn’t been interested in her in some time and is just too much of a coward to break up with her) and she becomes an actual stalker. Even watching him through windows. The end of the movie tries to make her useful and give her somewhat of an arc, but it never actually feels complete. Knives even goes into the final battle angry at Ramona for breaking Scott’s heart because she’s still obsessed with Scott. If it’s possible, it almost feels like her entire character revolves around Scott even more than Ramona’s.

Roxy Richter:

Another very problematic character. I actually thought I would love her when she was introduced. She seriously has one of the best introductions in the film. That was all completely sucked away when we got to her battle with Scott. On top of the fact that she mostly fights Ramona because Scott refuses to hit a girl (barf), the scene also says some questionable things about bisexuality. Even Roxy becomes angry when Ramona refers to her as “just a phase”. But the worst part of this scene is by far the way Scott is able to defeat her at the end of the battle. As Scott is just about to be kicked into oblivion by Roxy, Ramona tells Scott that Roxy is sensitive behind her knees. What results is a very overtly sexual death for the only female ex. Women are already sexualized enough in media and members of the LGBTQ+ community are especially over sexualized. Roxy dying in this way is not at all ok, especially because none of the other exes die in any way that’s even near this. It was both disgusting and so disappointing for a character I thought I was going to love at first.

Kim Pine:

By far my favorite female character from this movie and one of my favorite characters in general. Though I don’t understand why every single female character introduced has to have had some sort of romantic connection with Scott except for Roxy and his sister. Kim is absolutely unafraid to call out Scott on his bullshit (along with his roommate Wallace), which is absolutely necessary considering how much of a douchebag Scott can be throughout the movie. Kim’s character is entirely based off of her own issues with the band, which means that her storyline doesn’t revolve around Scott. There’s nothing much bad I can say about Kim, I actually thought she was pretty solid.

I know there are a few other female characters in this movie, but these are just the ones I felt most inclined to talk about after watching the film. I do have to say though, Brie Larson singing in this movie as Envy Adams was one of my absolute favorite parts. I know this was mostly negative, but by no means does this mean that I hated the movie. I thought it’s use of music was very clever and there were characters and moments that I loved. Chris Evans as Lucas Lee was priceless and the vegan police made me laugh so hard I almost fell out of my chair. But I think that this movie really needs to be looked at for the way the narrative treats female characters, because it’s really not that great. After watching the movie it made me wish that we were able to have a character like Ramona Flowers that was actually created to celebrate women and wasn’t created to be the dream girl that revolved around the main character. Especially because she’s been so influential to women interested in media.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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