High Five! Comics

Kick-Ass: The Movie! Now With 50% Less Nihilism!

Posted on: April 19, 2010

Kick-Ass, the comic, despises its protagonist. Kick-Ass, the comic, thinks Dave Lizewski is a creepy (possibly sick in the head) loser, and while he’s certainly relate-able, Dave Lizewski is kind of a creepy loser. Kick-Ass, the movie, on the other hand, takes pity on this poor sad sack of teenage angst and allows his wish fulfillment fantasies to go ahead and work out, a notion the comic has utterly rejected, at least so far.

While the movie and the comic are essentially about the same idea – what happens when some asshole decides to play superhero?  – the comic remains realistic to the end. Hardcore fans of the comic’s unforgiving treatment of Dave’s addiction to vigilantism might find the movie’s much happier ending a bit hard to swallow, but they’ll be lying if they tell you Hit-Girl’s merciless slaughter of 50-some-odd gangsters isn’t something to cheer out loud for.

Yeah, that’s right. I said cheer. Plenty of mainstream critics have criticized Kick-Ass‘ violence in general, and most of them have focused on Hit-Girl, a prepubescent vigilante who could match or maybe even take down Beatrix Kiddo in a sword fight. They’re a little freaked out that an eleven year old actress uttered the word “cunt” and then racked up a ridiculously high body count. Putting aside the fact that Kick-Ass is (by the way) a work of fiction, based on a work of comic book fiction,  actress Chloe Grace Moretz didn’t actually slice and dice anyone.  (It’s not real ketchup, Bobby!) She did some stunts with a green screen and a blue sword and the gore was, for the most part, added in later.  Anyone who thinks a girl with four big brothers has never heard the word cunt before is kidding herself, and let’s not forget that Moretz’s parents must have approved her working on the movie in the first place. Parents concerned about Hit-Girl’s negative influence on their own children probably shouldn’t be taking their young girls to rated R movies in the first place. Ultimately, one wonders if a silver screen version of Damien Wayne would invite the same sort of criticism, but I doubt it.  He’s a boy. Much of the criticism seems to say “Look what they made that little girl do!” without actually considering the movie based on its merits, one of which is the fact that Moretz’s pint-sized ass-kicker saves the day, big time.

Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are the real stars of this movie, even though they’re not the main characters, which isn’t surprising. Mark Millar actually conceived Hit-Girl and Big Daddy before he came up with Dave Lizewski, who was added later as a sympathetic character through whom we’d meet the disturbing Father/Daughter team.  While Kick-Ass (the loser) pisses his pants, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are an arsenal closer to the real deal. Comic Hit-Girl is the only masked hero who’s not a complete wanker, and the only character with any semblance of a happy ending, the years she should be spending in therapy notwithstanding. Kick-Ass, the movie, lets Dave have a happy ending too. This makes for far more enjoyable cinema, but takes quite a bit away from the comic’s message that “Doing this will get your ass kicked in the real world, asshole!”

In the end, the comic’s version of the story is more accurate and realistic, remaining faithful to the idea that vigilantism in the real world will just get your ass kicked, but the movie’s version of events is way more fun to watch.  Fans of the comic will be a bit taken aback by some of the changes in the plot, but the tweaks don’t make the movie any less enjoyable, though regular audiences who migrate to the comic after seeing the movie may be a little disappointed.

Kick-Ass gets 3.9 out of 5 stars from me, because any movie that can make me yell “You get ’em girl!” at the screen with sheer delight is a movie worth catching in theaters. (Sorry to anyone who was in the theater with me. I was just really excited.) Bonus points for Nic Cage’s Adam West impression and all the John Romita Jr. artwork featured in the film.


7 Responses to "Kick-Ass: The Movie! Now With 50% Less Nihilism!"

We (Brenda and I) saw Kick-Ass on Fri, and thought it pretty good.

Having Hit-Girl say ‘cunt’ and ‘cock’ though, was just pretty much pointless and gratuitous, it added nothing and it’s absence would have removed nothing. If she was foul mouthed, fine, but given the rest of her lines – the director seems to have made her utter those two expletives more out of laziness than anything else. He tried to make her seem hardcore/hardboiled – but he missed by a country mile by not being consistent throughout.

I liked Nic Cage (but then I’m a fan), but he tried to come off creepy campy too hard and ended up just plain creepy. Had he acted in his ‘normal’ voice (as if a madman that doesn’t see himself as mad) it would have worked far, far better for me.

And stylistically, that just keeps happening throughout the film – trying too hard and *just* missing the bullseye because of lack of attention to detail.

The unheralded delight in the movie, for me, was the kingpin dude and his almost Johnny Dangerously styled henchthugs. Just ordinary workaday mobsters, tossed in way the hell over their heads.

4.5 out of 5 for me – it was a fun film, but the director just tried too hard and it showed. A little polish and attention to detail and it would have been a classic.

A few things. 1) At least one of those lines was verbatim from the comic. 2) The curse words did serve a purpose. This is the first time we see Hit Girl as anything but a sweet little daddy’s angel. The effect it added was underscoring just how ruthless and bad ass she is juxtaposed with how sweet she was just a few scenes ago. Was it necessary? Well, no. However, any given line can be removed or replaced. The cursing was jarring, and thus served its purpose.

Big Daddy also followed his role in the comic (mostly) as a creepy weirdo. The story intentionally toes a line between reality and fantasy. In one sense Vaughan gave us a straight adaptation of Millar’s typical comic imagery (as seen in the graphic and gratuitous violence) and balances that with realism. In the case of our protagonist Dave, he’s a loser and a geek. In the case of Big Daddy he’s as creepy and weird and twisted as any man who teaches his young daughter to cut people in half with swords. I mean, really, a guy like that would probably come off as weird when you talked to him.

That said, I will agree that “Kick-Ass” was awkward and clunky at times. But, I think this was due less to shortcomings on the director’s part, rather a casualty of comic adaptation. Unlike a film like “The Dark Knight”, Kick-Ass wasn’t written to be a movie. “Kick-Ass” was an existing story told over 8 issues of a comic book, and later translated to a new medium. Conceivably it might have been adapted better, but given the circumstances I think it fared better than most.

Sorry, but the whole Big Daddy/Little Girl thing reminds me a lot of Bioshock – she’s a Little Sister.


I dunno, I wasn’t planning on seeing it anyway ( I don’t like gore ) but I appreciate the review that just cemented my resolve to not see it.


Contrary to your reasoning, I doubt that anyone thought the actress in the film was actually killing people. I believe that everyone who saw the film understood that it was a work of fiction. What is objectionable is the amount of ugly, portrayed violence. Also, the fact that the 11-year-old actress’ parents OK’d for her to say “cunt” and act in ways meant to shock doesn’t make it acceptable. If the history of child acting has proven anything, it is that Mom and Dad will approve just about any degrading, perverted act as long as it gets their little piggy bank on screen. Finally, I love your logic with regards to the possibility of said underage (by a far goddman cry) actress having heard words like “cunt.” If she has heard the word said, than it’s OK for her to say it. Right? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. “You get ’em girl!”

Frankly, the film made my skin crawl.

Of course no one thinks CG Moretz actually killed anyone, but I read more than one review asserting that the the actress herself must have been somehow traumatized by the role, which therefore made the film itself reprehensible. In every interview I’ve seen or read, she seems a remarkably well adjusted, intelligent young woman who understands the difference between using a word in a work of fiction and throwing it around in real life. My seven year old niece understands what a “grown-up word” is. And quite frankly, if Hit-Girl had said “dick” rather than “cunt,” I don’t believe half as many panties would be twisted. If, in ten years, CG Moretz pulls a Lohan because she said the word “cunt” in a film meant for grown-ups, I’ll eat all the crow you want. Sure, it’s disturbing to hear a young girl say “cunt” (or “dick” for that matter), but that was the point! I’m all for protecting young girls, but Moretz doesn’t appear to have been exploited in any way whatsoever.

I didn’t find the violence itself (post-production) any worse than a Tarantino film, but then again, lots of people are bothered by Tarantino style violence.

1: “In every interview I’ve seen or read, she seems a remarkably well adjusted, intelligent young woman” —-

Well, don’t they all before they become maladjusted, drug-addled, unhappy misfits unable to cope with the real world?

I am not so concerned with the adjustment or lack thereof of Ms. Moretz. My concern is what her character suggests about society – that we are entertained by an 11-year-old girl calling people a cunt and killing hordes of them with tons of gushing blood. What next will an 11 year old do (with mom and dad’s approval, of course) in front of a camera that we will pay money to see? How in the world is Moretz’ ugly, hate-filled, violent, child character in any way a healthy thing, considering today’s escalating levels of child and teen violence?

2: “Sure, it’s disturbing to hear a young girl say “cunt” (or “dick” for that matter), but that was the point!”

“The point”? How does it being “the point” make it immune to criticism or audience disgust?

3. “And quite frankly, if Hit-Girl had said “dick” rather than “cunt,” I don’t believe half as many panties would be twisted.”

Well, that is, of course, true, but not for any qualitative value placed on vaginas and penises. Calling someone a “cunt” is a far uglier act than calling someone a “dick,” and that has nothing at all to do with the origin of the words. If you doubt this, run a couple scenarios through in your mind. My guess is you have called someone a dick (probably recently). How often have you called someone a cunt?

And besides, to characterize folks, like myself, who have concerns about this film as having their panties twisted is simply insulting and petty.

Hey, happy blogging!

(1) I’m not suggesting that Hit-Girl’s a healthy role-model for girls. I’ve got an eleven year old sister, and not so long ago I was an eleven year old girl – but as an adult who can tell the difference between real life and fiction, I appreciated that Hit-Girl killed the bad guys. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand or am not disturbed by how extremely she was brainwashed. I myself had concerns about CG Moretz’s ability to portray the character without being damaged in some way, but quite frankly speaking the word “cunt” in a professional setting isn’t going to ruin her life. Perhaps Moretz will eventually suffer the fate of Lohan, but she very well may not. The story is about a little girl who’s been exploited and brainwashed, and there’s a reason she doesn’t go back to it in the end.

(2/3) I find it ridiculous that the word for MY parts ought to be more offensive than the word for my husband’s parts. And yes, I say “cunt” just about as often as I say “dick,” because at the end of the day, they refer to analogous parts.

I find it ridiculous that people have their panties in a twist over the word “cunt,” knowing that if she’d said “dick” or “bastard” or “asshole” or even “fucks,” people wouldn’t be half as distressed. Outcry over the violence in the movie is perfectly legitimate, I just don’t happen to agree. I found the violence itself cartoonish and unrealistic.

Gore disturbs me deeply, but this sort of cartoon-like movie violence? Not so much. Anyone too young to understand the distinction shouldn’t be watching the movie in the first place.

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