I Mean, It's No Less Ridiculous than "Ant-Man".
I know! It's sacrilege. But I still consider myself a full-fledged geek. I've been into anime and manga since I was a young'un, so it's not that I find superhero stuff ridiculous or juvenile (most anime is WAY more out there than Spiderman), and I understand the narrative appeal completely. I don't like superhero stories, particularly this newest round of Marvel offerings, because the culture feels...exclusive. For so long, "comics" meant "superheroes", and both words carried the stigma of the reputation; comics were for lonely, out-of-shape shut-ins who can't get a date. This has never been true, and never encompassed the appeal of the comic book format, but the facts of the matter didn't stop that idea of the sad, put-upon boy as the image of the "geek".
Right now, comics are more inclusive than they've ever been. The official Spiderman in the comic universe is biracial, Ms Marvel is Muslim, and more women (and men) than ever are reading and enjoying comics (at least openly). So...how come so many people still don't feel like they're part of the club?
The answer is complicated, as are my feelings about this film. "Kick-Ass" encompasses the highs and the lows of superhero culture. It forces the viewer to confront their fascination with men and women in spandex, and gives them insight into the dangerous of obsessive fanaticism. And it does so while still being entertaining in all the ways a good superhero film is. All the same, critics didn't know the answer to a simple question: what is this film trying to say?
Strap in, sports fans. We're trawling for an answer, and getting SUPER drunk along the way.
"(This Game Will) Kick (Your) Ass": The Rules
1. Drink for Title Drops: That's every time someone says the name "Kick-Ass".
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for daddy issues. Ohhhh, my God, there are SO MANY OF THEM.
4. Drink when someone curses.
5. Drink when someone says the name of a superhero you recognize.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title Drops: Drink when someone talks about getting their ass kicked.
2. Drink when a weapon is used.
3. Drink when someone says the word "superhero". Are you starting to see what I'm talking about?
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone dies.
2. Drink when someone is called by a pet name.
3. Drink for "boys being boys". If a boy does something you would instinctively expect a teenaged boy to do, that's what I mean.
Krissy Pappau: Super Girl (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Boy Wonder (Easy)
Velma Jinkies: The Flash (Easy)
Some Guy: The Green Lantern (Hard)
Champjagne Austgin: Thor, the new one who's a lady (Hard)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: Spider Gwen (Hard)
Baebra: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Easy)
A Family Picture
That means it's good. I like it. I had a lot of fun watching this movie. It's one of the few projects that stars Nicolas Cage in the past several years that can be classified as "watchable".
I mean, the guy can't even rescue a missing cat.
It's a fairly cynical message, but one that's counter-acted well by the main character's modus operandi. Dave, unlike everyone else in the film, dresses up in a costume because he wants to help people. There are little egotistical complications to that want (you could argue that his actions equally stem from a desire for attention), but the face he projects to the world is that of knight. He's optimistic, naive, and persistent. In other words, he's someone you can root for, and that saves this film from taking a nose-dive into a depressing stew of misery and bitterness.
One of the most important scenes for Dave's character is the second time he attempts to fight crime alone, when he protects a man being attacked by a street gang. He gets his ass throroughly whooped, but manages to draw a crowd, and loudly declares to his enemies that no matter what they do to him, he won't back down.
"This is the most fucking superhero thing that happens in this movie," Vicky said. "He's like, fuck it, this is wrong, and I'm going to stand here and die for it."
And THAT attitude is exactly what birthed the admiration and devotion of nerds all over the country. That desire to protect those who need protection. That is why superhero stories are so popular, and this film nails it.
Hit Girl is the most interesting character in this whole damn movie, both from a narrative perspective and an analytical one. After her father, Big Daddy, ended a prison sentence for drug-related crimes he did not commit, he trained her to be the baddest kid on the playground so she could help him get revenge on the mobsters who stole his life. It's a pretty cool origin story, even if it means she only exists to serve someone else's needs, but that's also part of the tragedy. This child has been robbed of the ability to know what normal is, to know what it's like to be a kid. Fulfilling Big Daddy's master plan is her version of "normal".
This narrative doesn't get told a lot, and it almost didn't in this film. A lot of pressure was placed on the screenwriters to make Hit Girl older, a decision which would have weakened her storyline and, as screenwriter Jane Goldman points out, would have opened her up to sexualization. Goldman and director Michael Vaughn refused, and were unrepresented by a major film studio up until the film's release. Pretty fucking inspiring if you ask me.
So no, when the narrative is this strong, I have no problem with a studio telling an eleven-year-old to do all the things Hit Girl does in this film, especially when the actor is as savvy as Chloe Grace Moretz, who even as a pre-teen is one of my favorite actor's PERIOD. Kids, especially kids who have grown up in Hollywood, are smarter than people give them credit for. They understand the line between fiction and reality. My only complaint about Hit Girl is that she is not on the screen enough.
Mostly? I have a problem with Mark Millar.
It's Not a Comic, it's a "Graphic Novel".
There's this really awkward subplot where Dave has a love interest who thinks that he's gay, so he pretends to be gay so he can get close to her. He has to endure such humiliations as oiling her up without getting a boner (because I know I force my gay friends to give me deep tissue massages, what else are they good for?) and watching reruns of "Ugly Betty".
Also, said Love Interest, Katie Deuxma, is given very few defining character traits. We know she is a kind person because she works at a needle exchange clinic, and we know she's trendy, but unpretentious - she likes to hang out at the local comic book shop not because she likes comics but because they make a mean latte. She's been reading Scott Pilgrim and Shoujo Beat, though, but she doesn't like superhero comics.
Dave never talks about comics with her again after she reveals this. There's a silent implication here that manga, or American comics that don't feature superheroes, aren't "real" comics. Dave approaches the idea of her being into comics at all with skepticism, something that makes my skin crawl.
In fact, there aren't any comic fans in the movie who aren't straight, young white dudes. IN FACT, even though this movie takes place in Queens, there sure aren't a lot of black or hispanic people around. Unless you count all the criminals Kick-Ass and his friends fight; there's plenty of black criminals.
Guys...the comic is even worse.
Anyway, "Kick-Ass": the major difference that struck me in the comic is the attitude Dave has towards superhero work and the people he's trying to save. Remember how I said that's what basically saves the movie? Dave in the comics is the dark side of the nerd stereotype coin. He's sullen, reclusive, cynical, and selfish. It's not that his actions are much different than in the film; it's just a matter of framing. Film-Dave radiates sincerity and good intentions. Comic-Dave nearly quits several times, gets pissed off at his clients when they put him in danger, and is weirdly racist in a way that feels jarring.
THEN in the epilogue, we learn that she's taken to texting Dave pictures of herself blowing her boyfriend to torture him. What a bitch. Right?
In the sequel comic, she's gang-raped by the main bad guy and his cronies. You know. To show that he's bad.
Some Guy mentioned that this movie is clearly marketed towards a male audience, and I agree. That's not a bad thing, but just because you're marketing towards one demographic doesn't mean you have to actively be a dick to all the other demographics out there. And the kind of stuff that Millar pulls in the "Kick-Ass" comics is so engrained in the culture; part of the reason Spiderman is a superhero at all is because he accidentally killed his first girlfriend. The first Marvel movie to feature a female lead is only NOW going into production after nearly ten years of them dominating the American box office. You cannot find Black Widow merchandise anywhere, even though the latest film featured her riding an ultra-cool motorcycle that would have been SO EASY to turn into a toy.
I could go on. But I have the feeling I'll revisit this topic again. It's not a new problem, and it's not going to go away anytime soon. But there are options now for people who don't want to buy into this idea that stories have to be told one way. It doesn't fix the larger problems, but hey. It's a start.
So yeah, this game doesn't need much tweaking. Like the film, it's relentless and you'll probably enjoy it most if you don't take it too seriously. So I'm not going to add more rules. You're not getting any. This is enough.
Fine, drink whenever someone does something illegal. There's your rule. You happy?
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Kick-Ass" images are owned by Lionsgate.
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