Spawned as a sub-genre of the superhero film, there is now what could be termed, for lack of a better designation, the non-super superhero movie. Kick-Ass started it; Kick-Ass 2 might bury it! And that’s not to say Kick-Ass 2 is bad! The first one had a dog on its balls; its sequel unleashes the hounds.
The original Kick-Ass blundered its way off a superior comic, having its title character base decisions of right and wrong solely on whim! He sees four guys chasing one, determines that the one is a victim and acts without having the proper intel to know whether or not it may have been four undercover cops in pursuit of a robbery suspect or a citizens watch after a pedophile!
Philosophically, the problem with vigilantism isn’t, as we’re constantly reminded, that an individual takes the law into his own hands but that (as is the case with mob rule) there can be no place for random decisions in life and death situations.
Mistakes aren’t acceptable in a justice system!
Let’s say you are hired to provide security in a community watch, and you shoot someone suspected of being a perp. The only question that needs to be asked isn’t the race of those involved but what were the crime statistics for the community before the shooting compared to afterwards?
Morality isn’t based on whim, so no matter how someone is portrayed, whether as an oafish bully or Little Lord Fauntleroy skipping down the dark, mean streets, the bottom line is in the outcome.
It’s one thing for bad guys to sneak up on an unsuspecting granny to snatch her purse, but in this follow-up to Kick-Ass, super-villains are escaped felons who kill cops, family members and rehabilitated former bad guys. It’s not a comedy about apprehending shoplifters but an examination of the brutal, the twisted, the antisocial element of crime. And I use the example of Batman because he’s referenced in the movie (“Robin wishes he was me!”), along with the emphasis on training. I’ve often questioned why Arkham Asylum has a revolving door! Two-Face is caught but will certainly be back out on the street in just a few issues, so what good is having a place like that?
The main focus in Kick-Ass 2 is the confrontation of non-superpowered average citizens battling criminally insane murderers. Pulled together by the Motherfucker – formerly known as Red Mist – the movie begins with Mindy Macready (Hit Girl) and Dave Lizewski (Kick-Ass) back in high school facing peer pressure. Bailing to train, they come back out on the street unaware that they’ve inspired others to don costumes. For old time’s sake, since Hit Girl now has a guardian watching her every move, Kick-Ass teams up with a new partner, Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), who introduces him to Justice Forever, a group led by a born again former mobster called Colonel Stars and Stripes (played by Jim Carrey!)
But then, that’s been done since the 1940s. Bel O’Brien was a petty thief before gaining elasticity and becoming Plasticman. Both the Punisher and Wolverine were cast in adversarial roles as bounty hunters. Sometimes villains can have an epiphany but it’s not usually the reverse, and yet Kick-Ass 2 addresses that occurrence too.
I think what I find so refreshing in this second movie is that I expected more of the same from its predecessor on why someone would want to run around in a costume, but this one also deals with why someone who puts on a mask in the first place would be willing to take it off.
There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground in comic book movies. Either they treat their subject matter as camp with no regard for characterization or believability, or they swing in the opposite direction, making everything dark and moody, abandoning what makes a good character appealing.
It makes me pine for Robert Townsend’s Meteor Man.
Kick-Ass 2 would make for a good jumping off point so that if these characters and concepts were never again the subject of another movie, it has been thoroughly explained!
Superhero movies for the most part seek to thrill and dazzle the audience. Kick-Ass 2 shows instead the lechery and mendacity of the typical fanboy comic reader. And still they wonder why they are made fun of.