“Kick-Ass” Turns Everyman Into Superhero
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Those of you who regularly read this column know that I used to be publisher of Marvel Comics so I know something about the subject of superheroes. In fact, I’ve written two college textbooks about the subject. So when we get a movie about Spider-Man or Iron Man, I know what I’m talking about.
At Marvel we had a “character wheel” that defined a new superhero. To qualify, the character had to have a unique name, unique costume, and unique superpowers.
Now along comes a new movie called “Kick-Ass” that turns the idea of superheroes upside down. As the teenager of this tale (played by Aaron Johnson) muses, why has no one has ever decided to become a real-life superhero like those found in the comic books? So what if one has no superpowers!
Coming up with a homemade costume, our hero sets out to fight crime. However, his first attempt lands him in the hospital – having been beaten, stabbed, and hit by a car. No, it didn’t go too well.
His injuries require metal to hold his bones together, making him as impervious as, uh, Wolverine. And his damaged nerve endings make him resistant to pain. So his next outing as a superhero is more successful, turning him into an Internet sensation, a crime fighter known as Kick-Ass.
Add to this mix a retired cop (Nicholas Cage) who has trained his feisty daughter to become a superhero called Hit-Girl (Cloe Moretz) and before you know it, the streets are crawling with costumed do-gooders.
Yes, it’s a comedy based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, drawn by my old pal John Romita, Jr. and written by Mark Millar.
The film rights were sold before the first issue was even published. Director Matthew Vaughn (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) notes that working with Mark Millar on the film was “a labor of love.” He explains, “We wrote the script and the comic at the same time so it was a very sort of collaborative, organic process.”
Every studio turned the movie down, so Vaughn was forced to come up with private financing. “We made this for probably half the money a studio would have made this for. Which is good, though, because it makes you think out of the box. There are a lot of things I wanted to do which we couldn’t afford and then you come up with better ideas and how to actually execute it.”
When Vaughn presented the movie at last year’s Comic-Con International, the big comic book convention in San Diego, the movie “really lived up to its name.” It received a standing ovation from jaded fanboys.
“Kick-Ass” is now waging its battle against crime at Key West’s Tropic Cinema.
Be forewarned that the movie contains a lot of profanity and violence. One spokesman for a family group grumbled, “The language is offensive and the values inappropriate – without the saving grace of the bloodless victory of traditional superheroes.”
Vaughn counters, “I think the superhero films that Hollywood has been churning out have had their day and I think ‘Iron Man,’ ‘The Dark Knight,’ ‘Watchmen’ and now ‘Kick-Ass’ are moving it away from, ‘Hey, I’m a superhero. I’m going to save the world, and … some Hollywood crap.’ I think the genre is changing and it has to change.”
Heck, I’m not shocked that comic book movies are targeting older audiences. When I was publisher of Marvel Comics back in the mid-90s, research told me my average reader was already 26 years old.
[from Solares Hill]