Movie Dictator Club: Kick-Ass (2010)

The Movie Dictator Club for the month of January, 2011 is a another take on the superhero genre, a fresh take if you will!

Screenplay By: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

I’ve allowed Kick-Ass to roll around in my rather large and impressive brain (yeah, I went there) for a whole day now. That’s right folks, Kick-Ass is not some cheaply made indie, a bland comic book adaptation or the mindless bit of violence it may appear to be on the surface. There’s a lot going on in Kick-Ass, a hell of a lot actually. Matthew Vaughn has crafted a tale with many layers to it, a movie that hits you on the surface level with something that seems obvious but if you dig a bit deeper you’re bound to unearth some wormy gems. And all of this from a movie that more than one person decried as an abomination, who would have thunk it?

The movie that first came to mind for me when watching Kick-Ass was Watchmen. Both films tread in the same water, they revel in the idea of giving the viewer what they want and asking the viewer if they really do want what they are seeing? Watchmen does this through its portrayal of its heroes and through the way it uses its violence. Kick-Ass does much the same, but the key difference between the two is that Watchmen strives, and succeeds at, being a very serious entry in the story department. Kick-Ass isn’t as concerned with that, because it’s story is over the top and a bit loosey goosey. But, in doing that Kick-Ass is saying something about the world the film inhabits and the ideas that fans, and causal readers, have about comic books and by extension comic book movies.

Sorry, went off on a small tangent at the end of that last paragraph, let’s bring it back home for a second. I make the Watchmen comparison for one reason above the others listed in said tangential paragraph. Watchmen took the viewer to a world of gritty reality inhabited by super powered beings. Kick-Ass takes the viewer to a world of gritty reality that shows the truth of what would happen if people took up the mantle of super hero without the high tech gadgets or super hero powers of the comic book universe. Red Mist, Big Daddy, Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass all have moments of traditional comic book bad assery. They also have moments where they get thrashed from one side of the screen to the other, lose teeth, get broken in two and look like the misguided individuals they are. In the real world costumed vigilantes who actually went up against the bad guys would more often than not get their asses kicked and Kick-Ass presents this truth as it is. The depth of gritty and dark realism that Kick-Ass is able to find in taking this path isn’t something to be easily dismissed.

Getting back to that story for a moment, and how much of a comic book story it is. I don’t want people to take my comments as a slight against comic book storytelling. I love comic books and they do range the gamut of storytelling, all the way from deathly serious to farcical. But, there has always been a trend in super hero tales to attach a lot of silliness in the story of even the most serious tales. Kick-Ass is over the top, its characters are silly, but these things are the way they are because the world they exist in is fucking crazy. The characters swear like sailors, spew blood by the gallon and an eleven year old girl is the baddest bad ass the world has ever seen. I as a comic fan love that type of storytelling, the type that knows how over the top it is and goes with it. But, Kick-Ass does something different, it grounds its over the top-ness in the aforementioned gritty reality. This throws the entire movie at the viewer, it made me question what I was seeing. Was all the silly storytelling in those comics I loved was truly justified when contrasted with the reality of what was actually happening in all of those fight panels I read over the years?

Kick-Ass blends gritty reality and over the top zeal in a fashion that fascinated me. It made me horrified at what comic books had been hiding from me. I questioned if I really should love so many comic book movies like I do. It reaffirmed how much I really do love comic books, comic book movies (the good ones at least), independent film making and films that are willing to challenge the viewer while still being a lot of fun. Kick-Ass is bloody, it’s violent, and I’m sure plenty of people will view it as vile. It’s also well acted, funny, exhilarating, a great ride, and a film that questions its own existence. Kick-Ass is everything a great comic book movie should be, no hold that, it’s everything a great movie should be, period.




13 responses to “Movie Dictator Club: Kick-Ass (2010)

  1. You mention that the movie ‘knows it’s over the top’, but in the early goings of the movie, it treats the violence with a sense of gritty realism. I never felt the film stayed true to that spirit. I enjoy Kick-Ass (I bought the Blu-ray) but I’ve always felt there was some tonal inconsistencies to the overall picture. What happens (and how it happens)near the beginning is fun, as is what happens (and how it happens) at the end, but they don’t feel as if they necessarily come fromt he same movie. That’s my only slight against Vaughn’s movie.

  2. I think that it stayed true to what it was trying to be, and that wasn’t a gritty film or an over the top film, but a deconstruction of sorts of the comic book superhero film and comic book storytelling. But, I can see your criticism if you looked at the movie differently than I did. 🙂

  3. Hello fello movie blogger!

    Nice site you have here. I’ll have to make my back here on a regular basis. Feel free to swing by mine as well.

    I liked Kick-Ass, but something about it kept me from loving it. I think I was just expecting something more “cartoony”, for lack of a better word. Or maybe I’m just burned out on these normal people trying toi be superheroes (Batman, Hancock, Defendor). All in all, though, it was pretty well made and didn’t bore me, not to mention I loved the violence!

  4. It’s violence makes this a fun comic-book action comedy, but the story starts to fall by the end, and become something that were always used to seeing in superhero films.

  5. Mystery – I have no problem with the regular people trying to be superheroes motif, and I think it worked wonderfully in this film.

    Rok – That’s kinda the point though. It’s presenting what the majority of people love about comic books, and in doing so it’s asking if this is what people really want to see? In super hero comics it’s rare to read the arc that doesn’t end in a pretty generic and traditional way, yet we still love them, at least most of us do. Kick-Ass gives us that exact ending, in that exact way because it is a comic book put on screen ad it’s also questioning the standard superhero hero arc ending.

  6. It wasn’t for everyone. I really enjoyed it though.

  7. I wanted to see that film about the grounded, realistic superhero, but eventually it just turned into ridiculous, over the top, violent pandering. Parts of it I like a lot, parts of it I detest.

    Still, I think it’s a provoking and interesting film and I’m interested to see what Vaughn does with the X-Men Series.

  8. Reel – Thanks for dropping by.

    James – I fail to see how this was pandering? If the violence is being done for a very specific purpose, and as I pointed out earlier it was, then how is it pandering?

  9. yeah, what James Blake Ewing said. it wanted to have its cake and eat it. although in a way thats what makes it quite enjoyable.

  10. mcarteratthemovies

    I agree that there’s nothing pandering about “Kick Ass.” If anything, I see the violence as unflinching, and Chloe Moretz gives as good as she gets — better, really. It’s over the top in many ways, but it’s that kind of movie. Subtlety doesn’t have a place here.

  11. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: Your Taste Is Unacceptable! | Bill's Movie Emporium

  12. Ross – Obviously I disagree, I think the violence was essential in order for the film to comment on its theme of comic book violence.

    M – Pretty much echoing my thoughts, thanks. 🙂

  13. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: On A Film Institution… | Bill's Movie Emporium

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s