Ten Scattered Thoughts About KICK-ASS

I’m mostly not interested in the positioning of Nicholas Cage as an ironic icon. (Maybe just because I like Raising Arizona a lot, but that’s reason enough, right?) But I do think that ‘man in a faux-Batman suit gets his legs set on fire’ is the scene he was born to play.

As a genre commentary, Kick-Ass has less to offer than most decent superhero movies. Between the emphasis on performance in Christopher Nolan‘s Batman movies and Tony Stark’s faint awareness that he was doing something ridiculous in Iron Man, the good ones don’t hide their self-conscious strains.

I would be worried if I was Christopher Mintz-Plasse. In a few years he’s not going to be able to play teenage nerd roles, and nobody’s writing Christopher Mintz-Plasse vehicles, either. Are we gonna see him lie low for several years and then make a grown-up comeback in, like, a reboot of The Woodsman? Right now it’s a dead heat between him and Michael Cera to be this generation’s But Cort and eventually play bit parts in the next generation’s Wes Anderson’s movies.

It’s still weird that two different Mark Millar comics have been adapted for the screen, and weirder still that among the things he’s written, neither Kick-Ass nor Wanted stands with the best. (More to the point: they are not well-written comics.) Then again, Millar’s stronger stuff–Marvel universe guilty-pleasure road romp Old Man Logan and his run on The Authority with Frank Quitely–is largely unadaptable, for a variety of reasons.

The treatment of race in Kick-Ass (the movie) is probably an improvement over Kick-Ass (the comic), but the film’s gender politics are noticeably more juvenile. That Dave didn’t get the girl at the end of the comic is maybe the most realistic thing about it.

Kick-Ass takes place in a world that is theoretically our own, minus the existence of DC Comics. And the many dorks who do dress up and go on patrol.

If other superhero films are, by nature, wish-fulfillment vehicles, then so is Kick-Ass. (It’s Kick-Ass‘s…secret identity?) Whatever meta flourishes the film includes, nothing really disrupts the wish-fulfillment process. We learn that being a superhero in real life would mean getting brutalized but it would still be kind of awesome.

With that in mind: when the movie goes over the top (any scene with Hit Girl), it’s a great time.

The best way to summarize what’s wrong with Kick-Ass is that it operates on the assumption that Spider-Man stories would be truer to life if we knew something of Peter Parker’s masturbating habits.

Although Kick-Ass has its moments, Layer Cake is probably the better Matthew Vaughn movie, which is ironic because when you think about it, Daniel Craig looks more like a John Romita, Jr. drawing than anyone in Kick-Ass:

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