Wednesday, July 7

Review: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass (the comic) blew me away. There's no other way to word it. It was a pitch-black, razor-sharp breakdown of how the (fictional) stories we tell each other fuck up our perceptions of real life. About how the narratives instilled in our collective unconsciousness make us do things that are wrong and dangerous. But above all, it was an incredibly subtle critique of the geek-revenge-fantasies that  almost all comic books are seated on. It was like a Watchmen for the 21st century and coming from me, that is really a BIG praise.

And then Kick-Ass (the movie) throws that all out of the window to instead embrace the juvenile aggression the comic so sharply criticizes. Outstanding.

Left is the comic, right is the movie. It might have given me a clue.

The story of both the comic and the movie begins pretty much the same: Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a teenage boy whom, by own admission, is nothing special. He likes comic books, he has the hots for a girl that is completely out of his league and his mother died in a spectacularly non-backstorily way. He decides to take his life in his own hands and become a superhero. And even though his early undertakings are less then impressive, he quickly becomes famous when a video of his nightly adventures becomes a hit on the internet. But he doesn't seem to be the only one who has had the plan to become a superhero, and soon he finds himself dealing with things that are way over his head.

The unraveling of these things, however, completely differ from the movie and the comic. Let's just say that the ending of the comic is much, much darker. And, frankly, much better as well. For example: in both the book and the comic Dave is faking to be gay to get closer to a girl he likes. And at some point, he reveals that to her. In the comic, she calls him a liar and a crook and beats him up out of resentment. And later she sends him pictures of herself giving some other guy a blowjob. Because fuck you, romantic comedies. But in the movie, he reveals himself to her and she proceeds to fuck his brains out. Nice.

To say that Kick-Ass is disappointing as an adaptation is euphemistic: I've rarely seen anybody miss the point of anything so bad. But on it's own merits, Kick-Ass is pretty damn good. And the reason? It's fun.

It might be a bit macabre to have this much fun with source material this dark, but Kick-Ass pulls it off with remarkable grace. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, and it, well, kicks ass. Everybody seems to be having so good a time making the movie it’s hard not to get swept up in it.


This is mostly due to the fact that the film is incredibly well-made. The acting is great, the fight scenes are awesome and the whole thing has a vibe of being one big party. This is certainly helped by the fast editing and a very nifty soundtrack.

But Kick-Ass left me with mixed feelings in the end. If you haven’t read the comic, the movie will probably rock your world. And even though it was pretty disappointing at first, even I couldn’t help but laughing at some of the better jokes. So, it’s your pick: watch the movie if you want something really fun, read the comic if you want something really good.


P.S. I think the comic has one really clever pop-culture reference: the character who tells Dave that Katie thinks he's gay is called Toddy Haynes. If that name doesn't ring any bells, stay tuned.

The only thing that this song has in common with the comic is that they both seem to draw inspiration from well-known comic franchises. And they are both AWESOME.


  1. "To say that Kick-Ass is disappointing as an adaptation is euphemistic: I've rarely seen anybody miss the point of anything so bad."

    Well, they didn't *miss* the point of it. Kick-Ass the movie was developed in tandem with the comic book, and Millar said that the movie was crafted to its medium. In other words, the movie was intended to have a different feel and attitude from the books.

    I guess Kick-Ass the comic is kind of an in-joke or a self-criticism among the comic nerd fandom, but the movie is supposed to be a celebration of the fandom.

  2. I don't mind a celebration of comic fandom, but why pick this franchise to do it? It's a complete turnaround in the message of the book, which I frankly found more then a little distressing. And it's not as if there weren't any other franchises waiting to be filmed (Scott Pligrim, anyone?).