There is always a little skepticism when you go to see a movie that is based on a book/comic that you really enjoyed. I always break the worry down into three areas: (i) that the characters won’t look/sound the way you had imagined them, (ii) that the creative team will make massive departures from the source material and “ruin” the story and (iii) if they do change the story for the movie, you’ll be constantly tempted to remind people, “Well, that’s not the way it happened in the book.”
So, with all that baggage I went to see Kick-Ass on a Sunday morning when everyone else was in church.
I really enjoyed this movie and think that the director and cast hit all the important notes from Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s book. There are only a couple of major deviations from the source material that I’ll discuss below.
The first hour or so of the film is almost 100% faithful to the comic source material. The main character, Dave Lizewski, is just as awkward and dorky as he was in the comics and his buddies are just as nerdy. Dave’s life, back story, desire to become a vigilante, budding relationship with the hot girl, first meeting with Big Daddy and Hit Girl are all ripped straight from the comics.
The first major departure from the source material deals with the character of Red Mist. In the comic, the reveal that Red Mist was the son of the mob boss and had double-crossed the heroes was surprising (to me at least). In the movie, we see the creation of Red Mist as a plan hatched by the mob all along. I don’t think it hurt the film one bit and it actually increased some of the drama when you know that the good guys are about to get led into a trap.
The other big switch from the comic deals with Dave’s relationship with the hot girl. In the comic, after becoming her friend by pretending to be homosexual, he finally tells her the truth and as a reader you really expect her to fall into his arms. But no… she rejects him and starts dating one of the jocks. In the movie, she pulls him into bed after he makes his big confession and spends the rest of the movie worrying about him being Kick-Ass. In some ways, I liked this resolution to the relationship better because when she jilts Dave in the comic, it is a real kick in the gut: He’s been through so much and he doesn’t even get the girl?????? C’mon!
The final fight had some challenging moments (after the glorious scene of Hit Girl blasting her way through the lackeys). It was a little dorky that Dave showed up with a gattling gun armed jet pack to save the day at the end, but he needed to do something heroic and it wouldn’t have made sense for him to suddenly become the Karate Kid. It was also pretty cliché that the mob boss is also the most deadly martial artist of all the bad guys. Basically, Hit Girl has chewed through nearly 40 of his henchmen without breaking a sweat, yet is tooth and nail to beat the old bald mob boss? WTF?!
This movie hit the two major emotional notes of the comic. One is the earnestness of Dave. He doesn’t have any powers, but he has a Peter Parker-like need to do something. The other is the kick ass (pun intended) nature of Hit Girl. They really nailed the fun and excitement of a 10-year-old girl shooting and stabbing her way through mountains of bad guys. The fight scenes are really well choreographed. For me, the real star of the film was Hit Girl and I hope they just go ahead and do the sequel now because the actress is only going to grow tall and we’ll lose some of the magic once she looks like a teenager.
The only negatives I can possibly point out with this film are if you happen to be offended by bad language or stabbing and shooting. But those people probably aren’t going to go see a film called Kick-Ass, anyway. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. Go see it twice!