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Did A Cult '90s Cartoon Influence Edgar Wright?

Could Edgar Wright have been inspired by a '90s animated series?

Words by Menachem Tzvi Perlow (@perlowtzivi)


Last month has managed to bring pop culturists two big surprises. Two people who’ve already created good work are returning to make brand new content. And what’s more, these two have a lot more in common than you’d think:
Edgar Wright and The Powerpuff Girls.
But while he released an old music video that gives clues to what his new film (Baby Driver) will be about, the Girls' return hasn’t been so blessed.
In fact, it’s done quite the opposite: It’s prompted people to start searching for clues, to point out the many (and sometimes accurate) flaws in the brief clips being released online.
They’ve even been retweeted by the show’s original creator, Craig McCracken, who is not returning too because he’s too busy working on his most recent creation over at Disney, Wander Over Yonder.
But that’s not what I’ll be discussing here. What I will be discussing (using the same line of reasoning and methods as those die-hard fans, but in a much healthier way) is how Edgar Wright has been influenced by Craig’s action packed, yet surprisingly cinematic, cartoon.


While cartoons nowadays (especially the ones running on Cartoon Network) are getting a lot better and a lot of praise, that’s only in terms of their storytelling and characters.
But when it comes to crafting and “shooting” these cartoons just like a movie, the situation has remained as bad as the dark age of TV animation back in the '80s.
But not The Powerpuff Girls, created by Craig McCracken (and with a large portion of episodes directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who soon after created the truly cinematic cartoon, Samurai Jack.)
And maybe Edgar Wright took notice of their talents. He and, especially, his brother are artists, and even Googling “Edgar Wright Powerpuff Girls Crossover” will get you fan art of Pegg’s and Frost’s characters drawn in the bug-eyed, but cute, style of the Girls.
Even Edgar’s own TV show, Spaced, has a reference:  In a phone conversation between Tim (Simon Pegg) and his girlfriend Sophie (Lucy Akhurst), we can clearly see that’s she’s holding a stuffed doll of one of the Girls, Buttercup (she’s the toughest fighter.) Sophie also happens to have jet black hair and she does seem like a more assertive girlfriend than the one Tim previously had.
But back to what I was saying. Craig and Genndy might be the only cartoonists in recent memory that set out to make animated shows just as well put together as real filmmakers do.
In one PPG episode, Bubbles is trying out a training program set on the highest difficulty level and she gets her butt handed to her. She turns around; the camera zooms in on her wiping away a single drop of blood, but ever so slowly. For a few seconds her mouth is in the shape of a frown. Suddenly, it turns into a yell of rage as she launches into the melee, punching, kicking, and drawing even more bright red blood, but from the monstrous foes that she quickly decimates.
In another episode, where two priceless jewels have been stolen, we’re shown the smashed, empty case and the velvet pillow they should be resting on. The scene then dissolves to the current location of the jewels, now in the lair of their thief, Mojo Jojo. But for a second, (since the empty case dissolves and the jewels appear) it looks as if the jewels were back inside their case.
And in the hilarious episode Just Another Maniac Mojo, where we learn that this evil supervillain, (who also happens to be a monkey) experiences bad morning days like the rest of us.
He heads out to the grocery store to get some eggs for breakfast, and as he stomps down the long flight of stairs leading from his villainous tower to the city park below, each frustrated stomp is “Mickey-Moused” with an angry feeling sound effect that gets higher and higher. Then, when he realises he left his wallet all the way back in his lair, he climbs back up the flight of stairs, the same music punctuating each angrier stomp, culminating in a massive crescendo when he reaches the top and slams the door shut.


When Edgar Wright finally moved on to making 'The Cornetto Trilogy' and Scott Pilgrim, he was inspired by the techniques Craig and Genndy used (which I just described above) and incorporated them into his own work. I’ll explain what I mean below:

1. “Moments Preceding a Fight That Makes It Much More Dramatic”: Here are two examples used in The World's End. First, that moment of silence before that kickass bathroom brawl begins. Not to mention the little gimmick of one of the blanks blind kicking a hand dryer, for which we never get an explanation for but is pretty cool and interesting. Second, right after Andy rips off his shirt and grabs those bar stools, we see quick, symmetrical shots of blanks raising their fists, gearing up for another intense fight scene.

2. “Creative Use Of Dissolves Or Transitions”: In Scott Pilgrim, just when Scott is about to tell someone where his band will be playing, he’s cut off because the scene cuts to the actual bar, its neon sign blazing bright, telling us visually the location of the performance.

3. “Mickey Mousing”: In The World’s End, when Gary King and his friends down their drinks to the tune of The Doors' Show Me The Way To The Next Whiskey Bar.


In a world where there are so many action and comedy movies with acceptable directing, Edgar Wright's filmmaking is a bright, refreshing, and most importantly, non-boring way that thinks outside the box.
DC and Marvel's superhero movies might be getting better, but comedy films have a long way to go. Mainly because everyone in that genre is trying to ape the Apatow style: Funny (?) sex metaphors and relying too much on funny dialogue.
Let’s hope Baby Driver breaks the action/comedy formula once more. And gets a much better response from the public while it’s in theaters, unlike Scott Pilgrim.
Of which I, too, a huge Edgar Wright fan, am guilty of doing.

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