I haven’t read much of the comic as there’s only so much misanthropy and homophobia that I can take, so this won’t be an exercise in comparing texts. Actually, unless your name’s Charlie Kauffman I’m not sure anyone should bother overmuch with that sort of thing. Personally I’m much more concerned with the question of whether or not the thing in front of me has anything going for it than whether the thing in front of me has anything in common with some other thing that isn’t in front of me.

So was this particular thing good? The further I get away from it the more I’m inclined to go with not so much. Don’t get me wrong, it is entertaining up to a point but it’s also rather irritating in retrospect and much of what I enjoyed I’m not sure would do it for me on a second viewing. To begin with Kick Ass sets the audience up with expectations that it just doesn’t deliver on. You start off thinking you’re watching a comedy intent on skewering the whole idea of superheroics, but what you get is Superbad meets The Punisher. We’re told by actual fer real characters and actual fer real plot events that superheroing isn’t just physically impossible it’s practically unfeasible and the province of the psychologically disturbed, and you know what? It’s pretty hard to disagree. If anything I’d go further and add a clause about ethics and morality, but ya know this is a popcorn flick based on a Mark Millar comic so you can’t have everything.

Had the film stopped at turning a rather definitive statement about the physical impossibility of superheroics into what amounts to the part of the origin story where the hero gains (admittedly very rubbish) superpowers I probably wouldn’t be of a mind to complain. It’s a kind of thematic and intellectual betrayal but it’s a reasonably fun idea and for a minute there it looked as if the movie might have had something vaguely interesting to say about our culture of voyeurism and its relationship to our unwillingness to intervene when we see wrongs being committed. Sadly the film has nothing to say that’s worth saying about any of that and the powering up of Kick Ass turns out to be a direction of travel that culminates in the very definite assertion that being a superhero isn’t just possible, it completely fucking a-one awesome! Kick ass, dude!

In fact if the movie has anything to say at all it’s that in the real world you’d have to do superheroics with firearms and that you’d have to kill people (but hey that’s completely awesome too), that being a comic geek is really cool, and that being a gay is totally gay. Yes along the way we get to meet Hit Girl and yes she steals the film, and yes some of it is quite funny, and I’m sure teenagers will love the flick. The teenagers in the cinema with me sure as fuck did. But in the end there’s only so much nerd wet dream I need in my life.

As a side note about the action sequences, it struck me that Vaughn’s film, in common with the vast majority of modern action movies, is a prisoner of its own stylisation. The hackneyed John Woo-esque action-balletics which have come to own contemporary cinema just couldn’t exist in a film which was really concerned with bringing any kind of realism to superheroing. Had they decided to remove those stylistic elements they would have ended up with a very different and perhaps far better movie.

I award Kick Ass two brains out of five.

I spy with my YELLOW EYE

June 11th, 2008

Comics bought and read on Saturday the 7th of June 2008

More after the jump

Kick-Ass #2
The last comics I bought by Mark Millar were the quietly-released final issues of The Unfunnies. It ends **SPOILER** with an evil comic book creator literally writing himself into his own strip, free to rape and murder his characters as he sees fit, a life of fictive freedom being preferable to a life of reality on death row. It was an amusingly nasty take on Grant Morrison’s fond old hyperfictionsuit riff, but not one that added much to the idea. Or at least it didn’t until Kick-Ass 2, where it is revealed that at some point in the recent past Mark Millar evidently wrote himself into the Marvel universe, for real. As in, that’s where he actually lives now. How else to explain the contents of this issue, where realism apparently reigns supreme, but comes in the form of circumstances and psychologies that could only ever seem plausible to someone who really lives in funnybook land?

More after the jump