It is a comic book story relating to other comic book stories ; a perfect example of postmodernism.
What sure makes Kick-Ass interesting and stand out from the rest of the comic book stories it its unique setting and presentation placing the “hero” is he actually is one, in a world which is very curiously close to the one we commonly think we live in ; a certain reality.
The super hero theme has been quite a trend lately and very understandably considering among other facts the difficult economical issues “the world” has been through over the last through years ; Kick-Ass appeared then right in the middle of all this in what could have appeared as a really good time.
Indeed the super hero theme, led to the creation of stories in which “normal” people could break all the negative and restrictive walls to be able to accomplish things they never thought they’d ever do.
This genre isn’t new at all, but what is new is it representation and how elements from the “first wave” of the genre have been recycled to place itself into modern times, modern societies and their customes/lifestyle : postmodernism.
If you think about very well, the message is still the same isn’t it ? People want to believe in things, they always do and so this film plays on that by bringing the optimistic message that anyone can do anything with a really good will.
And in this film is the turn of James Lizewski’s story to be told, this geeky but somehow hot teenager wants to become a hero and manages to ! Now of course, this is a film, a film about comics, but the message is there…and by operating a replacement in modern times, it is made much clearer than is has ever been.
After about a good 1/3 into the story Kick-Ass gets to save someone for the first time. After trying to save a cat stuck high up in the metal bars of a big commercial sign (innocently chosen scenery?), Kick-Ass gets caught or should we better say catches a fight with 3 people who are after someone the young super hero wannabe clumsily made himself fall for the 3 “bad guys” to catch up easily. And it is like the revolution of the digital age happening right in front of our eyes (as viewers) in the super hero story. Now what is extremely interesting in the last sentence at least as much as the burst of all these camera phones is the term “gets to save someone for the first time” ; we know Kick-Ass has failed before, because we have seen it. Have you ever seen Batman being rushed to hospital after being badly stabbed at the abdomen ? That’s how this comic book story/film build its strength.
This scene really is powerful because apart from really starting to become the hero he wants to become, we realise that he’s not doing it on his own. If his mission his accomplished, it is also thanks to all these teenagers who, by holding a camera phone gain a certain power, through passivity. And here we got another huge element of the film’s strength : each person can have a certain power with its own means. The identification is thus reaching a much wider audience than it used to because even the people who know for sure that they wouldn’t even try or just wouldn’t want to get involved already have in their hands.
Without camera-phones, Youtube, MySpace, Kick-Ass wouldn’t have been Kick-Ass.
But never forget than a medium is just a window and what it shows can’t always be pleasant ; this is how we are thus witness of a wannabe hero going through a lot of unpleasant situations that the heroes “of the first generation” of comic books never went through, or should be better say, were never shown to go through.
When we know nowadays that some newscast make the most famous footballer of the season new hairstyle a top story ; you understand where I am getting at now.
These windows which pushed Kick-Ass to become a famous figure also are responsible for subsequent trouble and situations he is going to have to solve. Media is a power, yeah, and if it’s a huge one, it’s very probably because it can be as unbiased as extremist.
Interestingly enough, for those of you who have seen the film, you will notice the “mysterious” light under which Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are depicted. They are the ones who really are placed in a world much closer to comic books, seeming to have a life like the heroes “of the first generation”. Indeed, although Kick-Ass or James Lizewski is presented in his normal life with his friends mostly in the comic book store, we never really see them being as close to what their passion seems to be. Big Daddy is a comic book cartoonist, he drew the story of his life (that we subsequently venture doubts about, as a very close relative tells us into) and all the bad guys they have have to stop. All these comic book related elements are never showed so explicitly whenever a scene is focusing on James and his friends or his father.
There is thus here a very nicely worked out distinction of the film’s story from the film’s references through the place of the different actors, and the death of one of the super heroes towards the end, is a very powerful and allegoric representation of how the film “frees itself” from the ones of its initial kind.
In this post-modernist version of the comic book super hero genre that is Kick-Ass appears thus a brand new kind of hero, surrounded by universal sidekicks who don’t even know for most how powerful they are or can be…The message of the accomplishing strong will conveyed is one of the very few elements however still here, because this, will always be efficient. But you have to fully get it ; you can achieve anything you want to if you want it bad enough, the path to get there just isn’t an alley paved of red roses ; are you bold enough to take it ?