Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew Vaughn|
by Mark Millar
John Romita, Jr.
|Box office||$96.2 million|
Kick-Ass is a 2010 British-American independent superhero black comedy film based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who co-produced with Brad Pitt and co-wrote the screenplay with Jane Goldman. Its general release was on 25 March 2010 in the United Kingdom and on 16 April 2010 in the United States. It is the first installment of the Kick-Ass film series.
It tells the story of an ordinary teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who sets out to become a real-life superhero, calling himself "Kick-Ass". Dave gets caught up in a bigger fight when he meets Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), a former cop who, in his quest to bring down the crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) (Red Mist), has trained his eleven-year-old daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) to be the ruthless vigilante Hit-Girl.
Despite having generated some controversy for its profanity and violence performed by a child, Kick-Ass was well received by both critics and audiences. The film has gained a strong cult following since its release on DVD and Blu-ray. A sequel, written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and produced by Vaughn, was released in August 2013, with Johnson, Mintz-Plasse, and Moretz reprising their roles.
Dave Lizewski is an ordinary teenager who lives in Staten Island, New York. Inspired by comic books, Dave plans to become a real-life superhero. He purchases and modifies a bodysuit, and arms himself with batons. During his first outing, he gets stabbed and then hit by a car. After recovering, he gains a capacity to endure pain and enhanced durability.
In his absence from school, a rumor spreads that he is gay, as he was found naked by the paramedics after discarding his costume. As a result, his longtime crush, Katie Deauxma, immediately attempts to become his friend. Unhappy with the misunderstanding, Dave nevertheless appreciates the opportunity to get closer to Katie.
Dave returns to crime-fighting and gains notoriety after intervening in a gang attack. Calling himself "Kick-Ass", he sets up a Myspace account where he can be contacted for help. Responding to a request from Katie, he confronts a drug dealer, Rasul, who has been harassing her. At Rasul's place, Kick-Ass is quickly overwhelmed by Rasul's thugs. Before they can kill him, two costumed vigilantes, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, intervene, easily slaughter the thugs and leave with their money. After coming home, Dave realizes he is in over his head, and plans to give up crime-fighting. However, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy pay him a visit and encourage him.
Big Daddy's real identity is Damon Macready, formerly an honest cop. Framed by Mafia boss Frank D'Amico, he was jailed. His wife committed suicide, leaving behind his daughter Mindy. Against the protest of his former partner Marcus Williams, Damon trains himself and Mindy (Hit-Girl) as preparation for getting revenge on Frank. They have been undermining Frank's operations by raiding his warehouses, robbing his money and destroying his drugs.
Frank believes Kick-Ass is responsible for the attacks and targets him, impulsively killing a party entertainer who is dressed like Kick-Ass. Frank's son, Chris, suggests a different approach. He poses as a new vigilante, "Red Mist," and befriends Kick-Ass. He plans to lure Kick-Ass into Frank's lumber warehouse and unmask him. However, they find the warehouse on fire and Frank's men dead. Red Mist retrieves a hidden camera he earlier placed in the warehouse, and he and Kick-Ass part ways. D'Amico watches the footage and learns of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.
Following the event, Dave decides to quit being Kick-Ass. He reveals his identity to Katie, and clears up the misunderstanding about him being gay. She forgives him and becomes his girlfriend. However, Red Mist contacts him again, and tricks him into revealing Big Daddy and Hit-Girl's location. At one of Big Daddy's safe houses, Red Mist shoots Hit-Girl out of a window, and Frank's men capture Big Daddy and Kick-Ass.
Frank intends to have his thugs torture and execute his captives in a live Internet broadcast. While Kick-Ass and Big Daddy are being beaten by Frank's gangsters, Hit-Girl, having survived the shooting, storms the hideout and kills all of the gangsters. During the fight, one thug sets Big Daddy on fire. Mindy and Damon say a tearful farewell before he dies of his injuries.
Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass resolve to defeat Frank D'Amico once and for all. Hit-Girl infiltrates Frank's headquarters, and kills numerous guards and henchmen before running out of bullets. When she is cornered by the thugs, Kick-Ass arrives on a jet pack fitted with miniguns and kills the remaining thugs. Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl then take on Frank and Red Mist. Kick-Ass fights Red Mist and they knock each other out. Frank overpowers an exhausted Hit-Girl. Before he can kill her, Kick-Ass regains consciousness and shoots him with a bazooka. Frank is blasted out of the window and explodes in mid-air. Mindy and Dave retire from crime-fighting. Marcus becomes Mindy's guardian, and she enrolls at Dave's school.
- Aaron Johnson as David "Dave" Lizewski / Kick-Ass. Johnson said that Kick-Ass is a "sensitive guy" who lost his mother and is a "nobody" at school, so he creates his superhero identity "as this whole different persona." Johnson said that Dave is "a kid who’s got the guts to go out there and do something different." Christopher Mintz-Plasse originally auditioned for the role of Kick-Ass, but during the audition the producers believed that his acting was too loud and obnoxious for the lead, so they immediately gave Mintz-Plasse the role of Red Mist instead.
- Mark Strong as Frank D'Amico, the head of a powerful criminal organization. Strong says he is drawn to playing the antagonist. He tries to "understand the purpose of the character", and then work on building a believable individual.
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D'Amico / Red Mist, Frank D'Amico's son. Millar said that "the idea was that he was going to be a more minor character in the first film. Then we saw what Christopher Mintz-Plasse was capable of! [...] So the idea of McLovin' and the fun Red Mist doing something horrible is genuinely quite disturbing when you see it happen. We couldn't have got away with that with another actor. The minute we saw his performance, we were looking at each other and realised how good he was and what we could do with him in the future...." Mintz-Plasse said that when he first wore the Red Mist costume, he felt that it was entertaining and that he "looked so bad-ass." The actor sent photographs of himself in costume to his friends. Three weeks into the filming, Mintz-Plasse decided that the costume was not very comfortable and "a big pain in the ass." Mintz-Plasse wore the costume for 12 hours per filming day. Mintz-Plasse had to learn how to use a stick-shift in order to drive the Ford Mustang that is used in the film. Vaughn told Mintz-Plasse that the actor would have to pay for the car if he crashed it.
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl. Vaughn commented on the maturity of Moretz, who said that because she has four older brothers, she was no stranger to much of the language in the script. Her mother read the script and permitted her to use the profanity in the movie. Jane Goldman, one of the two co-writers of the script, said, "We just really wanted Hit-Girl to be a character who, in a sense, simply happens to be an eleven-year-old girl, in the same way that Ripley in Alien could have been a guy but the part happened to be played by Sigourney Weaver." Goldman said that Mindy "is genuinely dangerous, she's genuinely mad. It's not her fault: she's been raised in this environment where she doesn't know anything different. She's unwittingly part of a folie a deux."
- Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready / Big Daddy. Vaughn described Cage's performance as a little bit Elvis and a little bit Adam West. A character in the film even says his costume looks like that of Batman. Cage was inspired by his costume to try delivering his lines in the same style Adam West used for Batman. The police officer father of an ex-girlfriend also influenced his performance; the habit of Big Daddy referring to Hit-Girl as "child" stems from the police officer.
- Lyndsy Fonseca as Katie Deauxma, Dave's long-time crush and eventual girlfriend
- Clark Duke as Marty Eisenberg, one of Dave's two best friends in school
- Evan Peters as Todd Haynes, one of Dave's two best friends in school
- Sophie Wu as Erika Cho, Katie's best friend in school and later Marty's girlfriend
- Omari Hardwick as Sgt. Marcus Williams, former partner of Damon Macready
- Stu 'Large' Riley (credited as Stu Riley) as the Huge Goon, Frank's chief bodyguard. Near the climactic fight between the main characters, Mark Strong accidentally calls out the actor's actual name, "Stu".
- Michael Rispoli as Big Joe, Frank D'Amico's right-hand man
- Dexter Fletcher as Cody, one of Frank D'Amico's henchmen
- Jason Flemyng as the lobby goon.
- Xander Berkeley as Detective Victor "Vic" Gigante, a corrupt NYPD police officer working for Frank D'Amico
- Kofi Natei as Rasul, a gang leader and drug distributor working for Frank D'Amico, who is stalking Katie
- Corey Johnson as Sporty Goon, one of Rasul's gang member
- Adrian Martinez as Ginger Goon, one of Rasul's gang member
- Katrena Rochell as Female Junkie, one of Rasul's gang member
- Omar Soriano as Leroy, Rasul's doorman
- Garrett M. Brown as James Lizewski, Dave's father
- Elizabeth McGovern as Alice Lizewski, Dave's late mother who died from an aneurysm
- Yancy Butler as Angie D'Amico, Frank's wife and Chris' mother
- Deborah Twiss as Mrs. Zane, Dave's English teacher, whom he often fantasize about
- Craig Ferguson as Himself
- John Romita, Jr. as the Atomic Comics barista
- Sean Adames as lobby concierge
Series-creator Millar, a native of Scotland, asked Scottish television children's-show host Glen Michael to make a cameo appearance although his role was cut from the film. Millar was also set to make a cameo as a Scottish alcoholic but the scene was cut from the film. WCBS-TV news reporters Maurice DuBois, Dana Tyler, and Lou Young make cameo appearances.
The rights to a film version of the comic book were sold before the first issue was published. Developed in parallel, the film writers took a different story direction, to reach many of the same conclusions. Mark Millar acknowledges the differences, explaining that a comic usually has eight acts, while a film usually has a three-act structure.
Vaughn said that, "We wrote the script and the comic at the same time so it was a very sort of collaborative, organic process. I met [Millar] at the premiere of Stardust. We got on really well. I knew who he was and what he had done but I didn't know him. He pitched me the idea. I said, 'That's great!' He then wrote a synopsis. I went, 'That's great, let's go do it now! You write the comic, I'll write the script.'" Jane Goldman one of the screenwriters, said that when she works with Vaughn she does the "construction work" and the "interior designing" while Vaughn acts as the "architect."
|“||With Kick-Ass, the book's just out and now the movie's out six weeks later. And I think that's the way things are going to go now, because to go to Marvel's B and C-list characters and try to get movies out [of] them; what's the point of that?||”|
|— Mark Millar|
Millar said that screenwriters Goldman and Vaughn had made a "chick flick", having placed more emphasis on the character emotions, and particularly in having softened the character of Katie Deauxma. Millar stated that a film audience would have difficulty accepting Dave and Katie not being together, while a comic audience would more easily accept that idea. Frank Lovece of Film Journal International says that Katie is "much less Mean Girls" in the film than in the comic, and that the romance between Dave and Katie "proves a needed counterbalance to the otherwise pervasive sense of optimism being stripped away layer by layer, down below angry cynicism and headed straight down the hole to nihilism." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said "the romance provides an appealing backdrop that the more unnerving aspects of the film play out against." Other changes included having Red Mist be known to be a secret antagonist from the start, as well as making him less outright villainous, and D'Amico's mob initially thinking Kick-Ass is the one slaughtering their men.
In the original comic-book, Big Daddy is characterised not as an ex-cop, but as a former accountant who had been motivated to fight crime by a desire to escape from his life and by his love of comic books. In the film, his purported origin and motivations are genuine: writer Mark Millar stated that the revelation about Big Daddy's background would not have worked in the film adaptation, and "would have ruined the movie."
The climax to the film differs significantly from the comics, with the use of the jetpack and rocket launcher: Millar called this "necessary" as "we're building up so much stuff that we needed some Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star moment". Comic writer Stephen Grant argued that the film "cheated" on its premise of a "real life" superhero by having these increasingly fantastic events and that this was "why it works. That's where much of the humor comes from... when the film finally makes the notion [the fantasy] explicit we're already so deep into the magician's act that our instinct is to play along".
Vaughn initially went to Sony, which distributed Layer Cake, but he rejected calls to tone down the violence. Other studios expressed interest but wanted to make the characters older. In particular studios wanted to change Hit-Girl's character into an adult. Goldman said that while studio executives said that it would be less offensive to portray Hit-Girl as a teenager, Goldman argued that it would have been more offensive since, as a teenager, Hit-Girl would have been sexualized. Goldman said that Hit-Girl was not supposed to be sexualized.
Vaughn had a little trouble adapting to film: the film had no studio. The big studios doubted the success of an adaptation as a violent superhero, which made the film be independently financed, but this gave him the freedom to make the film the way he imagined, without having to worry about high-censorship. Vaughn believed enough in the project to raise the money himself. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist) said that the creators of the film were wondering whether a distributor would pick up the movie. On the set Vaughn jokingly referred to Kick-Ass as something that was going to be "the most expensive home movie I ever made".
The 2D/3D animated comic book sequence in the film took almost two years to finish. Romita created the pencils, Tom Palmer did the inks, and Dean White did the colours. Vaughn gave Romita a carte blanche on the art direction of the sequence.
Filming locations included Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Dip 'N' Sip Donuts on Kingston Road in Toronto, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, and "many Toronto landmarks that play cameos"; and various locations in the United Kingdom, including Elstree Studios. The opening sequence with Nicolas Cage was filmed in a sewage plant in east London.
The Atomic Comics store in the film is based on the now-defunct real-life Arizona-based chain whose owner, Millar said, is a friend of artist John Romita Jr.. Millar asked Mike Malve for permission to use Atomic Comics in the film, and a model version of Atomic Comics was created at the London pilot studio for use in the filming.
In January 2010, an uncensored preview clip of the film was attacked by family advocacy groups for its display of violence and use of the line "Okay you cunts, let's see what you can do now," delivered by Chloë Grace Moretz, who was eleven years old at the time of filming. Australian Family Association spokesman John Morrissey said that "the language [was] offensive and the values inappropriate; without the saving grace of the bloodless victory of traditional superheroes". Several critics, including Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail, accused the film of glorifying violence, saying that Hit-Girl was "made to look as seductive as possible". Tookey's view on Hit-Girl was strongly criticised, with many commentators — including Andrew Collins, the film editor of Radio Times — wondering why he had found the character sexualised. This caused Tookey to claim that he was a victim of cyber-bullying. In response to the controversy, Moretz stated in an interview, "If I ever uttered one word that I said in Kick-Ass, I would be grounded for years! I'd be stuck in my room until I was 20! I would never in a million years say that. I'm an average, everyday girl." Moretz has said that while filming, she could not bring herself to say the film's title out loud in interviews, instead calling it "the film" in public and "Kick-Butt" at home.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse expressed surprise that people were angry about the language but did not seem to be offended that Hit-Girl kills many people.
In an interview with Total Film, Aaron Johnson confirmed that the film stays true to the adult nature of the comic series by featuring a large amount of profanity and graphic violence. The film received an R rating by the MPAA for "strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use—some involving children", and it received a 15 rating from the BBFC. Director Matthew Vaughn felt the 15 certificate was about right and expressed some surprise at the film having received a "PG rating[sic]" in France.
The film earned over $12 million internationally in advance of opening in the United States. On its debut weekend in the United States it took in $19.8 million in 3,065 theaters, averaging $6,469 per theater. Kick-Ass was reported number one, ahead of How to Train Your Dragon by $200,000, which was in its third week of release. On Saturday, 17 April 2010, it fell down to number three behind How To Train Your Dragon and Date Night. On Sunday, 2 May 2010, it fell down behind A Nightmare on Elm Street, How To Train Your Dragon, Furry Vengeance, The Back-Up Plan, Date Night, Clash of the Titans and The Losers. These numbers for Kick-Ass's debut weekend gross included non-weekend earnings, as the film was previewed during the Thursday night prior to its release. The film's final gross in the U.S. was $48,071,303 and $48,117,600 outside of the U.S. with a worldwide gross of $96,188,903.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 76% of 244 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7.1/10. The site's consensus reads: "Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity." Metacritic assigned the film a score of 66%, based on a weighted average of 38 reviews from mainstream critics.
In the United Kingdom, The Guardian gave the film extensive coverage by several of its critics and journalists. Peter Bradshaw gave the film 5/5 stars and called it an "explosion in a bad taste factory" that is "thoroughly outrageous, jaw-droppingly violent and very funny riff on the quasi-porn world of comic books; except that there is absolutely no 'quasi' about it." Philip French, writing for The Guardian's Sunday associate paper The Observer, called the film "relentlessly violent" with "the foulest-mouthed child ever to appear on screen, [who makes] Louis Malle's Zazie sound like Cosette" and one "extremely knowing in its appeal to connoisseurs of comic strips and video games." David Cox, also from The Guardian, wrote that the film "kicks the c-word into the mainstream...inadvertently dispatch[ing] our last big expletive."
Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail said, "Don't be fooled by the hype: This crime against cinema is twisted, cynical, and revels in the abuse of childhood". Chris Hewitt of Empire magazine gave the film 5/5 and declared it, "A ridiculously entertaining, perfectly paced, ultra-violent cinematic rush that kicks the places other movies struggle to reach. ... [T]he film's violence is clearly fantastical and cartoonish and not to be taken seriously."
International critics who enjoyed the film generally singled out its audacity, humour, and performance from Chloë Grace Moretz. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave Kick-Ass a top rating, writing that the production "succeeds as a violent fantasy about our perilous and fretful times, where regular citizens feel compelled to take action against a social order rotting from within." USA Today critic Claudia Puig praised Moretz as "terrific...Even as she wields outlandish weaponry, she comes off as adorable." Manohla Dargis from The New York Times wrote, "Fast, periodically spit-funny and often grotesquely violent, the film at once embraces and satirizes contemporary action-film clichés with Tarantino-esque self-regard." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, but noted that "personally, I just wish that the film had ended up a bit less of an over-the-top action ride."
In Film Journal International, former Marvel Comics writer Frank Lovece said the "delightfully dynamic" film "actually improves on the comic by not metaphorically kicking in our hero's teeth ... and making him a sad-sack schmuck who was wrong about nearly everything." He found that, "Comedy-of-manners dry humor ... plays seamlessly amid scenes of stylized, off-camera mayhem."
Other reviews were more negative. Roger Ebert found the film highly offensive and "morally reprehensible", giving it one out of four stars. He cited the coarse language and violence, particularly the scene in which Hit-Girl is nearly killed by D'Amico. "When kids in the age range of this movie's home video audience are shooting one another every day in America, that kind of stops being funny." Ebert's only notes of praise were for the performances of Cage, Johnson and Moretz. The movie made that week's "Your Movie Sucks" list of one-star movies.
Karina Longworth writing for The Village Voice, was not impressed with the film's intended satire and themes: "Never as shocking as it thinks it is, as funny as it should be, or as engaged in cultural critique as it could be, Kick-Ass is half-assed."
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actor: Action Adventure||Nicolas Cage||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Villain||Christopher Mintz-Plasse||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Action Adventure||Kick-Ass||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Breakout Female||Chloë Grace Moretz||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Breakout Male||Aaron Johnson||Nominated|
|People's Choice Award||Favorite Action Movie||Kick-Ass||Nominated|
|The Comedy Awards||Comedy Film||Kick-Ass||Nominated|
|Comedy Actress – Film||Chloë Grace Moretz||Nominated|
|Comedy Director – Film||Matthew Vaughn||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Film||Kick-Ass||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Aaron Johnson||Nominated|
|Best Director||Matthew Vaughn||Nominated|
|Best British Film||Kick-Ass||Won|
|Best Newcomer (also for Let Me In)||Chloë Grace Moretz||Won|
|IGN Awards||Best Actress||Chloë Grace Moretz||Won|
|Best Comic-Book Adaptation||Kick-Ass||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Breakout Star||Chloë Grace Moretz||Won|
|Biggest Badass Star||Chloë Grace Moretz||Won|
|Best Fight||Chloë Grace Moretz vs. Mark Strong||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress||Chloë Grace Moretz||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Award||Best Action Movie||Kick-Ass||Nominated|
|Best Young Actor/Actress||Chloë Grace Moretz||Nominated|
In an interview, Matthew Vaughn said, "There is about 18 minutes of [deleted] footage, which is really good stuff. If the film is a hit, I'll do an extended cut." The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 3 August 2010 in North America. This version does not contain the aforementioned deleted content. Selling 1.4 million units within its first week, one-third of these in Blu-ray format, Kick-Ass debuted at number one on the DVD sales chart. The discs were released in the United Kingdom on 6 September 2010.
The video game based on the movie was produced by WHA Entertainment and Frozen Codebase. It was released through the App Store on 15 April 2010 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The initial Apple platform releases were reportedly unfinished beta versions and were withdrawn from circulation pending a relaunch of a finished version. The game was released on the PlayStation Network on 29 April 2010. Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are playable characters. The game features Facebook missions and integration. Both versions of the game received negative reviews.
Despite various setbacks and uncertainty as to whether the sequel would ever materialize, on 8 May 2012, it was reported that a sequel would be distributed by Universal Studios, and that Matthew Vaughn had chosen Jeff Wadlow, who also wrote the script, to direct the sequel. Aaron Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz reprise their roles as Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl, respectively, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse returns as the main villain, going by the name of "The Motherfucker". The film was released on 14 August 2013 in the United Kingdom and on 16 August 2013 in the United States.
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Contains strong language, once very strong, & strong bloody comic violence
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[...] the romance provides an appealing backdrop that the more unnerving aspects of the film play out against.
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Vaughn, however, is such a believer in the project that he raised the money for the $30 million indie project himself.(subscription required)
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