Fanboy in Cowtown: A 'Kick-Ass' preview

Posted 11:44am on Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010

Austin is oozing with fandom lately, what with STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo on March 6, and the recent SXSW screening of the film version of smash comic sensation Kick-Ass.. But we've got our own geek cred going here in the DFW, too.

Kick-Ass doesn't officially open until April 16, but I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening at NorthPark in Dallas -- more than a week before its SXSW debut. So I'm here to slap you with some fanboy musings.

First, a little background: The comic comes from writer Mark Millar ( Wanted and Marvel's Civil War) and artist John Romita Jr. ( Spider-Man , Hulk) -- industry icons whose newly collected book is setting the bar higher for hyper-real vigilantism.

The ongoing, creator-owned, brutal story struck a chord with director and fanboy Matthew Vaughn -- who fully financed and adapted the theatrical release, which is set to shatter expectations.

And the advance screening of Kick-Ass confirmed all of my hopes and dreams: Vaughn gets it.

I've been following the production of Kick-Ass closely, because the film's production announcement came while the first story arc of the comic was still being drawn by the hardworking Romita.

I wondered: "How does one adapt a comic that isn't finished yet?"

It turns out, the whole she-bang has got to be über-collaborative. Millar's sly wit is ripped right out of word balloons and into hilarious portrayals, while Romita's camera angles and action shots were used as blueprints by the cinematographer. Nic Cage re-establishes his fan credibility with a surprisingly triumphant re-imagining of the Big Daddy character after his failed demonology experiment in Ghost Rider.

The rest of the actors are also perfectly cast, and the cheesy situations are decently balanced with edgy reality.

It's not a perfect movie -- the ultra-violence it touts as one of its major attributes was tamer than I expected, and any romantic tension in the loose thread of a subplot works better on paper. The horror of vigilantism does take a back seat to the super-heroism naïveté gags, but not for too long, as the action, premise and surprises begin to mix the two together. So be careful not to urge friends or family members who happen to be secessionists, wackos, Tea Party members and/or affiliates of other activist groups to see this movie -- they may just pick up some bad ideas.

A note about the screening itself: the movie wasn't so heavy with fanboys and fangirls -- more press folks and contest winners. But both groups seemed a little annoyed by the vigilance of staffers who intermittently shined flashlights into the crowd to make sure no one was trying to record the flick.

Whether they were serious fans or casually interested, the crowd seemed to eat it up. Dallas native Misty Flippin called it: "A really wild ride! It was approachable enough for me as an 'outsider' to follow all of the super-hero nods with all of the self-deprecating humor -- but the violence was a little over the top."

Sean Jackson, fanboy and extra from local web series The Variants (www.thevariants.com) said: "If you want to see what a real Batman and Robin team-up would be like, this is your flick. A super-hero fantasy come to life, with horrible consequences."

For your Fanboy in Cowtown, Kick-Ass is the tag-team combo of Superbad meets Watchmen -- and dangerously better than both.


Scott Hinze is the host of Fanboy Radio.‘The Voice of Comics & Gaming’ heard on KTCU FM 88.7 on Sundays at 6pm or http://www.fanboyradio.com anytime.

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