Friday, April 16, 2010

Kick Ass

Kick-Ass - Character Poster
Originally uploaded by Lionsgate1
There are a great many people that are going to find Kick Ass morally reprehensible. I am not one. To the people that do find this film reprehensible I say that you don’t know your comics very well.

Kick Ass may be a film that bases its story in a realistic landscape and has average Joe’s take on the job of super hero to fight the bad guy and gory, realistic mayhem follows this act; however, just as the geeks in the film feel the need to introduce the chicks they like to comic books, I feel the need to point out to these critics of Kick Ass the history of comics as well.

The biggest point I want to make to critics is that the characters in Kick Ass aren’t new. They may be more human than we are used to seeing the leads in a “comic book film”, but they are characters that anyone with a TV, or that goes to the movies has already seen and probably enjoyed in another form and in most cases Kick Ass doesn’t even hide these references from you in the film – in fact what makes this film a piece of pastiche brilliance is that it pushes those references right in front of you – the characters even mention it.

Let’s start with the main character himself – Kick Ass. The real Kick Ass is a high school student, a bit of a dork, who lives in New York and is in love with a girl at school who doesn’t know he exists and eventually decides to fight back against the horrible actions he sees around him. Who does that sound like? Oh yeah, Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman. The Spiderman films are some of the highest grossing of all time and I don’t recall anyone ever calling Peter Parker or his actions reprehensible. It must be because there was a radioactive spider involved.

Yet most of the controversy is not over the main character in Kick Ass, it’s all about Hit Girl. Hit Girl is an eleven year old girl who has been trained by her super hero father Big Daddy to follow in his footsteps. Hit Girl kicks more ass than anyone in the film and does it gleefully; she knows her hand guns, knives, smoke bombs, grenades and hand to hand combat. This is a girl the Spartans would have been proud of. Before you ramble on about how terrible it is to see a kid kill bad guys and get beat down I have one name to give you – Robin.

Not only is Hit Girl daughter to Big Daddy, a character everyone in the film compares to Batman, but for many of you that lack the history of Robin let me fill you in. There’s been more than one Robin in the comic books and rarely was he ever as old or manly as Chris O’Donnell. There’s a reason “The Boy Wonder” became Robin’s nickname – he was a child. The first Robin was ten years old, and most Robin’s (there’s been about four) get their butts kicked and two died terrible deaths at the hands of villains. Morally reprehensible much?

I’m not even going to get into who Red Mist’s comic counterpart is at this point because that would be spoilery and the majority of people haven’t seen this film yet. But let’s safely say that I think he exists in the Marvel universe, not the DC. If you don’t know the difference between those two universe’s then you’re probably one of the people that’s going to find this film morally reprehensible.

I hope that Kick Ass helps dispel the myth that comic books and their films are suitable for children. Children everywhere might be familiar with Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man and even a few of the more lesser known comic characters, but if you ever bothered to pick up an issue of one of their books or a trade paperback you’d soon realize that their stories are not made for children. Batman has his back broken by Bane & nearly dies, Iron Man slowly looses himself to alcohol, Spiderman accidently kills Gwen Stacey & yes, Superman dies.

These are not stories intended for a young child to read just as the R rating in Kick Ass tells you that this is not a movie you should send your six year old to. As with anything in the media the filmmakers and artists expect you to be responsible – be the guardian of your mind and the mind of your child. You have a sixteen year old that you think can handle the film, great – go with them. You have a ten year old that wants to see the cool girl with the purple hair – use your judgment and parent.

I saw Terminator 2 in the theatre and I read the entire Death of Superman as a child but you know why I don’t think I can be shot in the chest and survive? Because my parents walked through fiction with me and explained what fiction meant.

I need to say that I loved Kick Ass. I think it’s a brilliant film, a good character study and one heck of an entertaining movie to watch. I found these characters fascinating and I would love to see if there ends up being a follow up because Dave Lizewski is right – with all those comics and stories out there you’d think someone would have tried to be a super hero by now. With Kick Ass we get to see what that might be like through a safe, fictional pastiche, knowing that in the end no humans, or little girls were harmed in the making of this film.

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Kick Ass/Dave Lizewski: Aaron Johnson
Marty: Clark Duke
Todd: Evan Peters
Katie: Lyndsy Fonseca
Red Mist/Chris C’Amico: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Frank D’Amico: Mark Strong
Hit Girl/Mindy Macready: Chloe Moretz
Big Daddy/Damon Macready: Nicholas Cage

Dave Lizewski: With no power comes no responsibility.

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