Warning: The following piece contains significant SPOILERS for the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Something unexpected happens during the penultimate climax of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The hero, Scott Pilgrim, dies - stabbed in the back (and through the heart) with a katana-sword by his arch-nemesis Gideon Graves while distracted mid-battle by an argument between his former and would-be girlfriends.

Dying heroes are no stranger to movies, or to fiction for that matter, so Scott's death isn't in itself unusual. Neither is the fact, particularly in the world of film, that "death" isn't precisely permanent. As his body slumps lifelessly to the floor of Gideon's dance-club/throne-room (it's that kind of movie), Scott "wakes up" in some variation of the Hereafter to receive a dressing-down from a mirage of his lady love as to the poor life decisions that led him to this end, but also to receive a second chance at getting things right.

Again, all this has precedent. Whole spiritual belief-systems have been built around the notion of re-incarnation after death, and the conjoined histories of myth and fiction have long traded in tales of heroes who die literal or metaphoric deaths only to be reborn with greater knowledge and power. Hercules "dies" but is reborn an Olympian God. Ebenezer Scrooge wakes from a dream of his own death as a man determined to change his ways. George Bailey of It's A Wonderful Life is taken - at the moment of his own near-suicide - to a nightmarish alternate universe that restores his sense of worth and purpose.

No, it's not rising from his own ashes like a skinny Canadian phoenix that makes Scott Pilgrim's awakening noteworthy - it's the manner in which he does it. Short version: Pilgrim's day-to-day universe runs, sans comment, on the rules and logic of a videogame, and earlier in the film Scott had earned an Extra Life. Thusly, as he mopes about self-realization doing him little good in Limbo, the aforementioned prize (1-Up, in the film's studiously pre-PlayStation parlance) flickers onto the screen and Scott begins this level of his life again - this time avoiding the physical and emotional missteps that cost him before.

Chances are, since you're reading this on The Escapist, the logic of the situation makes sense. Not necessarily the appearance of a Pilgrim-ized equivalent to the Green Mushroom in the "real" world, mind you, but its use as a new gloss on the death/lesson/rebirth cycle requires no explanation: He blew it, he had "another guy," he did it right on the next try. It's a small moment - a cute joke and the ultimate literalism of the film's Life-As-Nintendo metaphor. But big movements are made from small moments, and it's very possible that in this instance, Scott Pilgrim has done something to change the way we tell stories on film.

Am I suggesting a future where every film will be playing by arcade rules? Certainly not - it's doubtful that the next Fast & The Furious sequel will end with Vin Diesel driving through a translucent question-mark and taking out the bad guy with a Blue Shell, and Renee Zellwegger's next impossible choice between interchangeably-handsome leading men will probably not come down to which one can assemble the arbitrarily-scattered pieces of The Triforce, however more entertaining that might be.

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