Kick-Ass, Feminist Style

19 Apr

Hit Girl will fuck you up.

The trailer for Kick-Ass did no justice to an amazing piece of comic book movie.  After seeing the trailer at least five or six times, I still had no desire to see this movie. I’ve been disappointed of late in Hollywood’s offerings, though I did thoroughly enjoy Hot Tub Time Machine. I had to be dragged to this movie, but now I’m quite glad for it. It even had one of my favorite actors from Hot Tub Time Machine, Clark Duke. If you don’t know him yet, please Google.

Kick-Ass surprised me immediately – the first scene of the movie reveals the dark humor at play in the movie. I wish I could write a lot more about exactly what happens in the movie, but I’m afraid of giving too much away. Here’s what you need to know: Dave Lizewski is a nerdy high school student living somewhere in New York City. He constantly wonders why no one has ever tried to become a superhero. One of his nerdy friends tells him straight up: “It’s impossible. You’ll be dead in like, a day.” After getting mugged and noticing that someone watched but did not offer help, Dave orders a wetsuit online and invents his own superhero persona, Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass gains popularity when a YouTube video of Dave intervening in a fight makes it online. Dave then creates a MySpace account for people to contact his superhero persona.

I really don’t want to give away any more than that, but I did want to mention the character that completely steals the show. Hit Girl, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is a 12-year-old ass-kicking powerhouse. Trained by her vengeance-seeking father, Big Daddy (played by a cheekily awkward Nicolas Cage), Hit Girl is the main attraction. From her scary abilities with knives to her tendency to call bad guys “cunts,” Hit Girl exemplifies the powerful feminist message that can often be found in comic books and graphic novels. There has been a bit of controversy surrounding Hit Girl’s potty mouth and unrelenting violence. Many critics have called Hit Girl’s character “morally reprehensible,” but why is that?

Kick-Ass is very much a violent movie, and for a movie based on a comic, it certainly pushes the limit on superhero violence. Before the story of Batman was retold by Christopher Nolan, the violence depicted in the previous films (See: Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) was very much sterile – there was no blood, and bad guys would get completely knocked out by just one of Batman’s punches. Kick-Ass seems to be commenting on the superhero film from within an insulated superhero meme. The violence that is central to a superhero film is turned completely upside down in Kick-Ass. Dave’s desire to become a superhero is mocked by his friends because, indeed, no one can be a true superhero.  The violence utilized by Hit Girl, Big Daddy, and the rest of Kick-Ass‘s cast is simply the best they can do in order to fight crime. In the case of Kick-Ass, violence is necessary to defeat an impasse of real drug dealers with real guns, and the heroes are required to reciprocate. Hit Girl’s use of knives, guns, and her own bare fists should impress any superhero fan. Hit Girl is the comic book stock character of the strong female fighter on crack. Though I would not recommend taking your pubescent daughter to Kick-Ass (which is rated R), I imagine that every girl close to my age will feel inspired by Chloe Moretz’s character, at least on a minimal level.

I would predict that many will be more shocked by Hit Girl’s use of the word cunt before they even blink an eye at her dazzling knife skills. I found Hit Girl’s prowess to be truly inspirational, and her status as a comic book heroine realized onscreen is something to look toward in future superhero films. Perhaps the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie will take a cue from Kick-Ass and provide Diana Prince with more clothing and a stronger ability to kick ass without a silly lasso of truth.

5 Responses to “Kick-Ass, Feminist Style”

  1. shoutabyss April 19, 2010 at 9:44 PM #

    I really wanted to see Hot Tub Time Machine. Is it too late? Probably. The movie has one of my favorite peeps, too. Rob Corddry!

    I’ve never even heard of Hit Girl. I’ll try to check it out!

    • fixedair April 19, 2010 at 9:47 PM #

      No, the movie is called Kick-Ass. The character in the poster is called Hit Girl. I hope my post wasn’t too confusing.

  2. constantineintokyo April 20, 2010 at 3:59 AM #

    I didn’t really feel much of a desire to see Kick-Ass either, but after reading your review it definitely sounds worthwhile. I’ll make sure to watch it once I get the chance.

  3. shoutabyss April 20, 2010 at 11:32 AM #

    See? That’s how uninformed I am! Thanks for the correction. I just found the trailer. Is that McLovin from Superbad? Lolol! I’m still going to try to see it.

  4. Adam April 30, 2010 at 11:34 AM #

    She’s the next Natalie Portman. Only she kicks ass.

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