Originally published in USA Today
As you know, I’ve been psyched about Kick-Ass since I saw the film’s thrilling Comic-Con presentation. (It prompted a standing ovation, and that rarely happens at the Con.) The film, based on the comic-book series by writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr., is something of a cross between Spider-Man, Freaks and Geeks and Kill Bill: It follows an introverted high-school kid (Aaron Johnson) who decides to don a spandex costume and become a straight-up superhero. The results are hilarious, twisted and shockingly violent.
What’s to like about Kick-Ass? Aside from the hardcore fight scenes, there’s the cast: Young Chloe Moretz is riveting as the young and spry Hit Girl, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse is funny (and refreshingly not-so-McLovin-esque) as Red Mist. Best of all, this may be the flick that reconnects audiences with Nicolas Cage; the actor is engaging and disturbing as Big Daddy, a weapons-obsessed father who tops his heroic deeds with a killer Adam West impersonation.
Millar and Romita attended last night’s New York premiere, presented by our friends at UGO. Afterward, they discussed the challenges of adapting the comic for the screen and shared a few tidbits about making the movie. (Fun fact: Romita initally wanted Mark Wahlberg for Big Daddy. Millar wanted Zac Efron as Red Mist.)
“The movie is horribly autobiographical,” Millar told the crowd, referring to some of Kick-Ass’ geekier moments. “I almost cringe watching it.”
When director Matthew Vaughn and the gang screened scenes at Comic-Con, the film still didn’t have a distributor. However, Millar and Romita said he never gave up.
“Matt got turned down by every studio, and he said, ‘OK, screw you. I’m gonna finance it myself,” Romita said.
Added Millar: “We thought we had the Pulp Fiction of screenplays here, and everyone hated it.” (Eventually, Lionsgate picked it up.)
Near the end of the evening, an audience member raised his hand. He stood up. Underneath his jacket, he was wearing a costume.
“I’m a real-life superhero,” he announced.
Sure enough, the guy was living just like Kick-Ass. He said he called himself the “Dark Guardian.” For seven years he had been fighting crime, “doing charity work” and committing other acts of good.
Perhaps at other venues, the Dark Guardian might’ve received some strange looks. Here, however, Millar and Romita beckoned him onstage. He was applauded.
And that’s the message of Kick-Ass: You don’t need to be bitten by a spider or born on another planet to save the world. If you’re willing to get your a– kicked every once in awhile, you, too, can be a superhero. And hey, shouldn’t that be celebrated?
Kick-Ass opens April 16.