Kick-Ass is available to rent, buy and stream.
The opening ten minutes of Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass may well be one of my favourite movie openings in film history. Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Miller’s brilliant comic book series is rooted in Miller’s original vision and is, in my opinion, one of the best anti-hero movies ever made, its blaze of colour, violence and creativity spawning dozens of copycat film and tv outings in the years since its release.
Scottish writer Mark Millar began his career with DC Comics in 1994, working on titles including Swamp Thing and The Flash, his DC career culminated in Superman: Red Son. He then moved on to Marvel in 2001, working on Ultimate X-Men, Civil War and The Ultimates. However, in 2004 Millar would take the brave step of leaving Marvel and DC behind for his own universe of characters. Millar’s new indie studio would take his passion for the superhero and merge it with a far more urban, edgy and violent world, giving birth to Kingsman, Nemesis, Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl, to name just a few.
In creating Kiss-Ass (aka Dave Lizewski), Millar seized on an eternal truth of the male condition, men never really grow up, their inner boy pulling the strings all their lives in one way or another. Men’s minds are a playground of boyhood desires and ideas right up to the day they pop their clogs and enter either a furnace or the cold hard ground. Dave Lizewski is a reflection of this truth, a teenage boy who longs to live out his fantasies through a mix of hormones and utter stupidity.
Bringing Millar’s unique vision to the screen would not be easy; after all, how many studios would allow Dave Lizewski’s hormonal, painful and violent journey against organised crime to fly free from censorship? The answer appeared to be none; enter Matthew Vaughn, Marv Films, and one of the biggest self-funded gambles in modern movie history. With the assistance of Brad Pitt’s Plan B, the project would remain a knife’s edge away from disaster for Vaughn throughout filming, but with a screenplay and vision this strong, the only concern was who would distribute it! Thankfully Lionsgate and Universal stepped in despite concerns about the character of Hit Girl and the level of violence surrounding her. In truth, no studio could ignore the genius casting at play, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson delivering the right mix of outsider charm, innocence and misplaced bravery and Chloë Grace Moretz the spit and sawdust energy and volatility of Hit Girl. But add to this an ensemble featuring Mark Strong, Nicholas Cage and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kick-Ass kicked ass from the minute the casting was announced.
Kick Ass would celebrate and honour the mayhem and dark humour of Millar’s comic book creations while tearing up the cinematic superhero rule book. If it had any slogan, it was “with no power, comes no responsibility” However, for all its comic book violence and visual beauty, Millar and Vaughn also weave their anti-hero tale with moments of stunning emotional depth as a teenager with dreams of grandeur and a damaged young girl with a killer smile take on the violent crime world. Kick-Ass is a colourful commentary on the power of one person to make a difference, even if they have no special abilities and run around in a Scuba diving suit at weekends. Whatever your take on this power slice of comic book carnage, one thing is undeniable; Kick-Ass is the film that changed the superhero world forever and continues to inspire new visions. So thank you, Mark Miller, merci Matthew Vaughn, and danke Aaron and Chloe, for one of the best anti-hero, no strike that, superhero films ever made.