The Wright Stuff: The Best Edgar Wright Movie Scenes

Over a twenty-three year career spanning TV and film, Edgar Wright has honed his craft to become one of the most inventive, exciting filmmakers working today. With his genre-bending screwball comedies, Wright has developed an instantly recognizable style, culled from filmmakers before him, like Sam Raimi, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers and more, and given his own unique twist. With rapid-fire montages and close-up cutaways, Wright fully embraces the visual aspect of the visual medium of film (something a shocking number of modern filmmakers seem to overlook). With Wright's latest film Baby Driver speeding into theaters this week, it's time to look a selection of the best scenes from his film career.

Spoilers for Wright's films follow. 

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Matthew Patel fight

Edgar Wright's 2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World found the director stepping outside of the Cornetto Trilogy to adapt Bryan Lee O'Malley's popular graphic novel series into a colorful, video game-infused film. The story follows Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), an extremely whiny bass player who develops an unhealthy crush on the alluring Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Before Scott and Ramona can be together, however, he has to do battle with her "seven evil exes." The early scenes of Scott Pilgrim are hyper-stylized, with comic book text appearing on the screen to accompany sounds and movements, but for a large chunk of the early proceedings, things seem firmly rooted in a kind of reality.

Then the first evil ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), arrives for battle, and all bets are off. All the fight scenes in Scott Pilgrim are highly entertaining, but this first fight has the most impact because it comes seemingly out of nowhere. Matthew literally comes exploding through the roof, defying all laws of gravity, and from there he and Scott engage in a fight that takes time to incorporate a Bollywood-style dance routine. 

9. Hot Fuzz: The Greater Good

After investigating a series of murders that have been plaguing the small, idyllic town of Sanford, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) makes the shocking discovery that the town's leaders are the culprits, and they've been knocking-off anyone they see as unworthy of living in their award-winning town. "Whatever the cost, we would Make Sanford Great Again," the corrupt chief police inspector (Jim Broadbent) says in a line that might seem much more unsettling now than it did in 2013.

Angel is understandably shocked – the townspeople have committed multiple murders in order to live a lie, but they don't see it that way. It's a dark, twisted scene shot through with macabre humor, as Wright cuts back throughout it to the various grisly murders that populated the film, all leading to Nicholas realizing that all of this carnage has been in order to win a meaningless "Best Village Award."

8. The World’s End: Final Speech

The ending of The World's End finds alcoholic Gary King (Simon Pegg) in a shouting-match with an alien life form that goes by the name of The Network. The Network has plans for earth – plans that involve the betterment of the species, but at what cost? The choice for humanity seems to be either to go along with anything The Network says, or be killed and replaced with mindless androids. That's a non-starter for Gary, who literally annoys the aliens to the point that they give up and leave the planet – with detrimental consequences.  

"The whole idea about what was being offered to the planet Earth... it might have actually been a good thing," Pegg said. "And it might have been better to go along with it. Maybe we should be told what to do. Maybe it's better if we are controlled, because we are erratic and irrational creatures, that don't always make the right decisions. You know, for Gary, it's all about control. He doesn't want to be controlled. And the choice he makes at the end of the film has huge ramifications. And it might not have been the right choice. But the irony is, in the final analysis, Gary does find happiness." Wright could've neutralized the threat at the center of The World's End in a million different ways, but there's something so dementedly brilliant about defeating an alien invasion via annoyance.

7. Hot Fuzz: Watching Movies

One of the most enjoyable scenes in Hot Fuzz involves something as simple as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost watching movies together. It's a moment that brings Pegg & Frost's characters closer together, and if you thought you noticed a possible romantic subtext to the scene, you're not wrong. "Our first draft of the script was about 180 pages long," Wright said, "and there was a romantic interest for Simon, a girl called Victoria who worked in the hotel...the one person [that] he could connect with and have a tentative relationship with. And we did a read-through of the first draft with a bunch of the actors. And after the first read-through, someone from Working Title suggested that we cut the girlfriend character out and concentrate on Simon and Nick's relationship. And not only did we think that was a wise move, but we gave all of the girlfriend's lines to Nick...There was already that buddy, homoerotic, man-love thing going on, but then to bring in all of her lines just tipped it over the edge."

Adding to the moment is another scene, involving a murder, running concurrently and spliced into the moment. On top of that all, there are several beats from the action movies that Pegg & Frost watch that later receive callbacks near the film's end.

6. Shaun of the Dead: Don’t Stop Me Now

It seems strange that Edgar Wright has yet to make a full-fledged musical, since it might very well be his destiny. Wright said that he thought of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as a musical where characters break into fights instead of song, but an early hint of his film musical abilities is front and center in Shaun of the Dead. Hold up in the Winchester pub as zombies come flooding in, Shaun and his friends do battle with the undead in-sync to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" as the song blares from the jukebox.

As memorable as the scene is, there was a chance it might not have happened at all. "It's funny to me that we used it in the film and we had to clear it before we started filming," Wright said. "Our film was not a big budget film, so it's actually thanks to Queen that they gave it to us at a decent rate. 15 years ago, some bands were just completely off limits. Led Zeppelin might charge £250,000, but the Queen track, they gave it to us for about 15k which is amazing. We wouldn't have a scene without it."

5. The World’s End: Bathroom Fight

It's a pity that Wright and Marvel parted ways before Wright could make Ant-Man, because most of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and particularly the bathroom fight sequence in The World's End reveals that Wright is immensely skilled at staging action sequences. This fight in closed quarters is fluid and, best of all, incredibly easy to follow. Here, Wright has crafted a fight scene more coherent than almost any fight scene ever portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"I'm always learning and I love action whether or not it's Jackie Chan or John Woo or Sam Peckinpah," Wright said in regards to the bathroom fight. "What was really fun in this one was to try and design fights with a cast that was very game and very good with choreography. The question becomes, "how long can you go without cutting?" In that bathroom scene there are only 3 or 4 shots where there are stunt doubles. And the kids are there the whole time, they're never doubled. It was a joy designing these fights. We wanted to film to feel real and not too cutty. If you've got this choreography, you want the audience to feel it. I love doing those sequences."

4. Shaun of the Dead: Oblivious Trip to the Shop

Early in Shaun of the Dead, before the zombie outbreak has begun, Shaun (Simon Pegg) takes a trip down to the local shop for some provisions. On the surface, it's a mundane moment, but the payoff comes after all hell has broken loose – off camera. Shaun, unaware of the zombies that are now running rampant right outside his door, wakes and heads down to the very same shop. Wright and editor Chris Dickens shoot and cut the sequence in exactly the same manner as the original mundane trip, only this time there are clues to something having gone very wrong around every corner, creating a hilarious visual callback. Clues that Shaun remains completely oblivious to it all.

3. The World’s End: “It’s all I’ve got.”

The World's End is the most misunderstood film in the Cornetto Trilogy, mostly due to tone. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz have their darker moments, but for the most part they're fairly upbeat comedies (or, at least, as upbeat as a comedies containing numerous deaths can be). The World's End is something different, though. It's a more melancholy film, tinged with regret, fronted by a leading character who is in a losing fight against self-loathing. "The film is less of an apocalypse comedy than it is a film about self destruction," Wright said. It was not the fun conclusion to the trilogy that many fans wanted, and thus was inevitably shunned by some. But there's a maturity to the film that outshines Shaun and Fuzz, and a willingness to portray failure in a way other comedies might shy from.

At the start of The World's End, we see Simon Pegg's Gary King sitting in a group meeting, but Wright keeps the meaning of this meeting a secret. At the film's end, we learn that Gary, an alcoholic remorseful for what he sees as his lost youth giving way to a go-nowhere future, had tried to kill himself. Now, with the world literally falling down all around him, all Gary wants to do is drink. "It's all I've got," he angrily tells his best friend Andy (Nick Frost), in a moment that's impeccably performed by Pegg & Frost.

2. Baby Driver: Opening Credits

Baby Driver is the closest Wright has come to making a full-fledged musical, a fast-paced film loaded with wall-to-wall songs. Wright even times car crashes and gunshots to the beat on whatever song happens to be playing during the scene. Really, almost every scene of this film could take up an entire list like this. But let's talk about the opening credits, a brilliantly-staged set-piece shot in seemingly one long, traveling take. In the film's prologue, getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) shows off his exceptional driving skills. Wright follows this high-octane moment up with a whimsical credit sequence as Baby strolls downtown to pick up coffee, all set to the song "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob & Earl. Elgort moves in sync to the music, and at certain points he passes walls and telephone poles that just happened to feature graffiti transcripts of certain lyrics from the song.

"I always had this idea of doing like a steadicam shot where you follow [Baby] to the coffee shop and back in the course of one song," Wright said. "I always had that song in mind. 'Harlem Shuffle' is the perfect length. It's a great walking song, and also I tried to use a lot of older R&B and soul tracks that have been sampled a lot in hip-hop. The funny thing about this, and this is genuine because this shows how bonkers the preparation was, is that was always the song, so when we were scouting for locations, my cinematographer, my location scout, my AD, and I would have 'Harlem Shuffle' on my phone and we would play it and then we would see where we could walk to and back....Eventually it's like, 'Well, you can kind of get to this coffee shop, but you really have to run, and I feel like he wants to strut along. If we strut along or we walk a bit slower we can get to this place, which is a pizza place, but we could turn it into a coffee shop.' And then Bill Pope, my cinematographer says, 'Remember that Ansel has longer legs than you, so he'll be able to do it faster than you are.' Because Ansel is 6'4?. So it was a bananas and fascinating thing. I'm sure people watching us were like . . . so there's a guy walking around playing 'Harlem Shuffle' on his phone."

1. Shaun of the Dead: The Plan

Few filmmakers working in comedy right now know how to use a montage as well as Edgar Wright. Wright makes montages that are quick and loaded with visual cues and clues, and perhaps the best of the bunch is "the plan" sequence from Shaun of the Dead. After a zombie outbreak, Shaun (Simon Pegg) needs to come up with a plan to whisk his ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) to safety, Wright has Shaun break-down several options, one after another, realizing each time the flaw in the design. As the montage unfolds, the scenarios become quicker and funnier – Shaun dealing with his infected step-father (Bill Nighy) goes from being compassionate to an afterthought, and the various mugs the montages end on change with a different slogan each time. It's hilarious while also conveying a wealth of information in less than two minutes.