There is no way that Kick Ass 2 is ever going to be as good as its predecessor. There was a time not so long ago when this was true of most sequels but we have moved away from this adage in recent years. Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2 were both better than the films they followed and The Dark Knight trilogy was consistently brilliant with each film building on the last. Still, this just isn’t going to be achievable here, it is simply impossible for a film to recapture the bold freshness of Kick Ass.
In 2010, two years after Iron Man was released the current Superhero renaissance was building. It looked like Christopher Nolan was reinventing the genre and Watchman, widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, had been successfully transferred to the screen. The time was perfect for someone to show just how silly it all was.
Of course someone who goes out to fight crime would get beaten up and hospitalised on day one. Clearly you’d look ridiculous applying black make up around your eyes before you put on a mask. It all seems so obvious but it was refreshing and amusing to see these things on screen without it being a parody. The most memorable aspect of Kick Ass is clearly the 12 year old sociopath Hit Girl but all this was doing was highlighting the ludicrous and amoral idea of a prepubescent crime fighter that has been around since Bob Kane and Bill Finger first gave us Robin the Boy Wonder in 1940. It had to be a girl and it had to be incredibly violent else people would have completely missed the point. Some people still did.
I first saw Kick Ass at a preview screening and the words I wrote on my audience questionnaire were ‘Don’t let them force you into changing a single thing’ which fortunately they didn’t (I’m sure I helped with that). Kick Ass was gutsy and confident and funny without being irreverent to the genre is celebrated.
The movie was well received critically although inevitably not everyone liked it. Daily Mail reviewer Christopher Tookey tripped over himself to condemn the film and ended up criticising it for sexualising Hit Girl on the basis that she appeared in school uniform when that’s actually what most 12 year old girls wear five days a week, thirty six weeks of the year. I remember writer Mark Millar suggesting in a radio interview that this said more about the reviewer than it did about the film. I’m sure that isn’t fair, he just couldn’t find enough ways to decry the movie. It was poor journalism and I’m as surprised that it got past the editing stage as I am that it got written in the first place. (This is why I found it particularly amusing when Tookey said of The Lone Ranger that if he’d had anything to do with it, he’d be wearing a balaclava and writing under an assumed name.)
So here we are three years later with Kick Ass 2 being released into a cinematic climate where now even a film like Iron Man 3 works to debunk the pomposity of Superheroics. Of course, Kick Ass 2 is not going to be as good as Kick Ass, I just can’t see them being able to add anything so I don’t think I’ll go and see it.