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Mark Millar’s Kick Ass: Review of the Movie Script

(Yes, I know. I mentioned the JLA script, reviewed the JMS World War Z script and then said I’d do Thor. Well, this was handier, so Thor will be later in the week)

Kick Ass is, if I recall from an interview I read a while ago, Mark Millar’s updated look at the classic teen super-hero origin (like Spider-Man and others had), but with a little twist or two – it’s set in the modern day and the kid doesn’t actually get any powers.

It’s done decent business as a comic book and is set to be a film. Indeed filming, with Nick Cage, has already begun under the keen eye of director Matthew Vaughan.

As far as I can tell, there’s three issues of the series out with, judging by the Jane Goldman-written script, another three to go, so anyone reading the comic may want to be wary from here on in as there may be some spoilers.

The basic starting point for Kick Ass is that, in a world like ours, Dave Lizewski decides to try and become a superhero – or at least a vigilante like that of Batman – and then promptly gets his ass kicked instead of the other way about. However, his actions inspire others and, thanks to a YouTube video (Millar actually did a viral, which was quite clever) suddenly there’s all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork as superheroes. Dave, of course, recovers from his first beating to try again at the hero business…

It’s a simple enough story and works OK. I can’t say much more than that because the story – in the comic or the 103-page script – really grabbed me. Dave Lizewski seemed like a whiny teen and at the end, thanks to some luck more than anything else, he’s a whiny teen with a hot girlfriend.

But the other problem is that extra characters are introduced in the film and the comic – Big Daddy (sadly not the wrestler) and Hit Girl – and the amount of time they get, it’s almost as if the comic/script doesn’t have the confidence to just stick with the main character (see Batman and Robin for an example of how well that can work out) or find enough of a story for him.

In fact, it seems to me that in the film Big Daddy and Hit Girl are introduced a lot earlier. In the comic they turn up in the last pages of issues 3 and the start of 4. In the film they appear in the first 15 minutes with new scenes and details, but I suppose that’s what happens when you have Nick Cage in a role…

Secondly, the ending, while positively restrained for a Mark Millar comic (see the last page of Wanted or the near end of Chosen for examples), it really doesn’t make much long-term sense when you think about it.

Note – next up is a spoiler placed in white text between two images from the comic. The spoiler deals with the end of the film, so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

 

SPOILER AHEAD (HIGHLIGHT TO READ)

By the end of the film, one of the main characters has decided that if the world has super-heroes, then it must also have super-villians and he will be the first. Now, let’s look at the ludicrousness of that idea from the logic of the story – he has no powers and lives in a world which is more or less identical with ours. There are already enough ways to amass power, money and influence – and none involve dressing up.

Also, dressing up for evil when you have no powers is pretty bloody ridiculous because the first time they attempt a serious crime, odds are they’ll be shot. And the first time they’re in jail? Hosed.

And that’s before pointing out that the idea seems very similar to that of Unbreakable – that if there has to be a good guy there has to be a bad guy.

It may be that with the creation of the villian at the end coming about because of Dave deciding he wanted to be a superhero, Millar is updating the classic idea of ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ as Dave’s actions lead to a negative and that’s fair enough, but it still rings hollow.

SPOILER END

As I said though, the comic’s first three issues never did much for me, so perhaps it’s just not my thing – I was far happier with Millar’s recent ending to his 1985 mini-series, which in itself was an average read, but had quite possibly the most emotionally satisfying ending not just of any Mark Millar comic, but of any Marvel comic ever published.

Back to Kick Ass though. If you’ve enjoyed the comic so far, odds are you’ll enjoy the movie (or the script) as it seems incredibly faithful to the work (as opposed to the massive changes made to Millar’s WANTED, which bore little resemblance to the original in many parts) but I’ll skip.

Anyhoo, Kick Ass the movie comes out in 2009. The end of the comic probably will as well.