In preparation for Kick-Ass 2, I read Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, Kick-Ass 2, and rewatched the movie Kick-Ass. Well, I was halfway through Kick-Ass 2 when we went to see the movie, and have finished it up since.
There’s a lot I could say on the topic, but I think I am going to focus my discussion by holding this to being a LitFlix, one of our reviews of a movie based on a book or comic. The Kick-Ass movies are quite clearly the inspiration for the movies, but it is fascinating the differences that were chosen.
As such, two things. First, I will be definitely doing some spoilers for the comics and movies; however, if you have only seen the movies, you’re probably in good shape. Second, I will be focusing mainly on those differences, which were not nitpicky things, but major plot-points, outcomes, and decisions.
I thought about doing this as its own post, but I was holding out for Kick-Ass 2 to see about that first. And really, they make sense to talk about together. Many of the differences in Kick-Ass 2 (the movie) stem from changes in Kick-Ass (the movie), though there are some others that follow in the same vein. So what vein is that?
I was amazed, at first, reading Kick-Ass. This is actually probably one of my favorite Super Hero movies because, like The Incredibles or Watchmen, it explores some of the more realistic side of being a Super Hero. But it does so with a great combination of humor, violence, and teenage drama. We got characters we like and care about, we wanted Big Daddy to make it too, and we walk out thinking Hit Girl is awesome.
So yeah, amazed reading the comic. Early on, it felt so close to the movie. Then there was a bit of a subtle difference, in that he seems to feel a lot more pain in the comic than in the movie. I kind of liked the thought that in the movie, he was almost to the point of having a super-power, of barely feeling any pain. In the comic, it’s just that he has metal plates and damaged nerves. So he takes some serious beatings.
Then there’s subtle things, an increase in social media stuff in the movie, it all works. But then, we get to the relationship between Dave (Kick-Ass) and Katie. He is playing at gay (in both) because she believes he is, and it lets him be around her. In the movie, she accepts that he was lying, and he reveals his secret identity, and they have a happy relationship. In the comic, no such luck: he says he’s not gay, and she hates him and won’t talk to him again. Possibly more realistic, but it feels like a basically pointless subplot then.
Then we get to the capture of Kick-Ass and Big Daddy. The torture is horrendous, but whatever, the differences here worked on screen. However, the reveal is a huge difference: In the comic, Big Daddy was just an accountant who liked comic books, his wife is alive, he was never a cop, and he just left home with Mindy to raise her as a Super Hero.
This deeply changes the character, and the relationships that remain for Mindy. In the movie, Marcus was her dad’s partner, and he adopts Mindy after Big Daddy dies. In the comic, Marcus is a cop, but is related because he is married to Mindy’s mom. But really, it’s just depressing and a let-down.
So often, the line is that we like the book more than the movie. It’s a thing. The extra detail, things left out by movies, all these things usually make the book better. However, the comics here are short enough that the movie is the same length, moves through the same plot, and the main decision points are fundamentally different.
So where did they go from there?
This is the opening of the movie Kick-Ass 2, and is the story of Mindy as Hit Girl trying to finish off the bad guys, while also trying to navigate high school, while also trying to train Kick-Ass. It’s a pretty good five-comic run, but it’s also pretty far from the movie.
And not in ways that matter too much. Though the way the girls defeat Mindy (leaving her in the woods), the way Mindy defeats the girls (with the sick stick) and such are all more fun in the movie. They do less of Kick-Ass’s training, but that’s okay, cuts for movie length, right?
The other big difference is that the reason Mindy has to hide and stop being Hit Girl is because her mom is sensitive to it. But Marcus knows what is going on, and this dynamic stays oddly similar.
I guess there’s one other connecting plot in Hit Girl: that of Red Mist, who gets a new name that I will skip writing here in the blog. He travels far and wide, training. Well, paying people. Who go through scenes from movies with him, the stuff you’d see in a training montage.
He knows it isn’t really training him much, but he learns money can buy him just about anything. He puts this to good use. Annoyingly good use. For instance, when he first robs a place, he blows a man away with an RPG. Or, when he kills Colonel Stars, he also kills the dog, and commits even more violence I’ll leave out. Overall, he is just a much more competent Super Villain in the comics.
In the movie, they dial the violence down a lot by decreasing the villain’s competence. Most especially, in the controversial, and needless, rape scene. And here is the movie’s main difference.
In the comic, Red Mist has remembered that Dave gave up his secret identity, and so he goes after, not one of the Super Heroes (as in the movie), but after Katie, who in the comics is just Dave’s crush – not even his girlfriend, or ex. And she suffers for this. A lot. Suddenly what was a needless subplot in Kick-Ass becomes a needless violent act in the second comic.
But really, by this point, there are too many differences between the comic and the movie. The Katie relationship difference, then the violence, and the meaning is incredibly different between the two – after all, them going after a Super Hero to commit violence at least fits in the plot? Then their incompetence, and really… everything diverges. The big showdown is different, and Red Mist dies in the movie – dead to the shark that is just a “why are you here?” in the comic.
I’ve been trying to just run down the movies versus the comics, here, but now I want to opine a little. I said at the beginning that if you had seen the movies, I wouldn’t worry about having read the comics, in terms of spoilers. I say that because, honestly, I would not recommend reading these comics.
The movies are better. In every difference, I find myself preferring the movie interpretation. For both movies. There’s still lots of language, violence, all the things in the comics, and there’s realism, and if anything, Dave’s dad dies worse in the movie than in the comic. But the movie is better.
But here’s the thing that really got me angry, and if you want to avoid being angry, don’t read this. Because this is the opening note to Kick-Ass 2, and it is insulting, and basically says that comic readers are secretly the sort of people who go out and do all the worst things. Saying we’re all really potentially the Super Villains. That comics actually do cause violence.
I’m done with Mark Millar, because this is apparently what we’re supposed to be getting from his comic: that we’re idiots who are just lining his pockets. I’m going to go back to my Jonathan Hickman, now, and think happy, science-fiction-filled thoughts.