|by Mel Valentin
Lionsgate gave eFilmCritic.com the opportunity at Wonder-Con earlier this month to talk to the cast and crew of "Kick-Ass," Matthew Vaughanís ("Stardust," "Layer Cake") big-screen adaptation of Mark Millar ("Nemesis," "Fantastic Four," "Wolverine: Old Man Logan," "Ultimates," "Superman: Red Son") and John Romita, Jr.ís (the upcoming "Avengers" relaunch, "World War Hulk," "The Eternals") comic book series of the same name. John Romita, Jr., Jane Goldman, Clark Duke, ChloŽ Grace Moretz, and Aaron Johnson graciously took time out of their busy schedules for one-on-one interviews.
Q: Hello. Thank you for taking the time to talk about Kick-Ass with our readers.
John Romita, Jr. mentioned several things Iíd like to discuss. Having seen the film and read the comic book, I noticed key points of divergences and differences between the two. John mentioned making the Big Daddy character less pathetic and more heroic, even if both versions are still insane. Iím really fascinated by the adaptation process.
First, what attracted you to this particular project?
A: It was certainly an unusual situation in terms of an adaptation because the comic book wasnít actually finished yet. Mark Millar had written the first issue and had the rest in his head. They were characters without names or personalities. For example, itíd just say ďgood cop.Ē As opposed to adapting a finished book, it was a really different experience. It was made an absolute pleasure by the fact that Mark was so laid back about us taking liberties that I absolutely salute him for.
It was really interesting. The comic book and the screenplay grew up at the same time. There were some decisions that Mark made that were structural things from the screenplay and other times when he diverged when there was something else he wanted to do, because he felt it was right for his readers. Like I said, it was a testament to how laid back Mark is that he let us do the things we did. Itís also hugely flattering that he used so much of the screenplay [material].
Q; Youíve actually answered a lot of my questions, specifically how much Mark had written given that the screenplay rights were sold before the first issue of the comic book had been published.
A: I think it was unfair that Mark, was criticized in some quarters for being greedy and jumping the gun. How could he sell the rights to something he hadnít done yet. He knew me through my husband [Jonathan Ross, a British television personality and an avowed comic book fan], so there was a certain amount of trust there. Mark met Matthew through me. He immediately trusted Matthew. Matthew is unusual in the film industry for being absolutely straightforward guy and you can immediately tell that when you meet him. There was great trust there and Mark was happy to work in that way. I donít think for a moment Mark would do anything similar with a studio.
I thought it was a little unfair that some comic book readers leveled those accusations at Mark. Is this man so desperate to get a movie made that he was selling an idea? But it was more that he was excited about his idea and he told me about it and wanted to tell Matthew about it. They hooked up. Matthew was just so excited about the idea. Matthew said, ďCan we start?Ē Mark to his great credit said ďYeah.Ē I think itís a very unusual situation. Whether it would ever happen again, I donít know. Itís just such a strong idea. I donít think there are a lot of ideas you can with like that.
Q: A friend of brought up something interesting. If you watch the green band trailer and the red band trailer for Kick-Ass, itís like two different films. Itís obviously an R-rated film, so everyone should know what theyíre getting themselves into, but Iíve read that some parents groups have already objected to Kick-Ass when they havenít seen the film yet.
A: The important thing is that Kick-Ass is R-rated. As with any R-rated movie, the important thing is for parents to make their own decisions. As a parent, Iíd always go see a movie first (when my kids were younger) and decide if it was appropriate or not. I would hope all responsible parents would do. I thin an R-rating is the correct rating for Kick-Ass. It was always intended for adults and 17 and up.
In terms of the issue about the red band trailer, I think itís a generalized issue. I think thereís a lot of unfortunate ignorance by parents about how the Internet works. Hopefully as the generations move along and the generation that grew up with the Internet will be having kids, there will be less of that problem. Right now, weíre at a period where a lot of parents are having kids later and didnít grow up with the Internet. They really have no idea about how it works and are quite happy to let their kids surf the Internet freely. You wouldnít let kids wander around town at night, but youíd let them surf the Internet [without supervision]. I think people donít understand the dangers. Personally, Iíd be more worried about things like ChatRoulette than someone watching a red band trailer. Parents have no idea what their kids are looking at on the Internet. Certainly, there are appropriate warnings on a red band trailer, but again, I think itís the parentsí responsibility to know what theyíre children are doing on the Internet. No one wants their kid to see a red band trailer. Itís a dodgy place, the Internet.
Q: When you were working on the screenplay, did you feel at any time that you were going too far?
A: It wasnít like we aiming for an R-rating as much as it seemed appropriate to the story we were telling, who is being written for, and the source material. To be honest, the only time concerns came up for me is that I really didnít want to feel like we were deliberately being provocative. That was the only time I instigated conversations with Matthew about whether we were deliberating trying to push peopleís buttons. There was a great comedy piece in the Onion about Marilyn Manson going door-to-door trying to shock [people]. We really didnít want to do that. That was never our intention. I just said you didnít want to distract from this great story that weíre telling by doing things that seem like weíre deliberating trying to break taboos or push the envelope. At the end of the day, the decisions that were made we felt were true to the characters.
People get up in arms about all sorts of things. Thus far, weíve been really pleased that no one who has actually seen the movie has come out feeling uncomfortable or come out feeling that theyíve seen something thatís wrong. There a lot of things that if you describe them, they can sound threatening or disturbing. Generally, the humorous tone of the movie lightens it so much that itís not threatening, itís not disturbing.
Although thereís been talk about a controversy, we really havenít seen any evidence of it. I think, to some degree, the press has manufactured [the controversy]. We havenít received any protests or complaints, which Iím glad about. Itís a good-natured movie. Itís not designed to shock or test peopleís boundaries.
Q: In my opinion, the film is stronger in how it treats the man character. In the comic book, the Kick-Ass character is a pathetic loser from beginning to end. He also becomes a secondary character in his own story to Hit Girl and Big Daddy. Was that a third-act concern? To make him return as an active character?
A: We felt very strongly that the right way to tell the story was to make sure that we held on to the notion that it was Daveís story. Otherwise, it could have seemed a little confused. It was always important to us that he wasnít a cartoon nerd. Heís just a regular guy. It amuses me to see him described as a stereotypical guy. No, heís like most guys. I have a sixteen-year old son. I look at his friends. They all play computer games. Things that used to be considered geeky have become the mainstream now. The idea was that Dave was just a regular guy. He loves comic books. Thereís very little logic in terms of his terrible decisionÖ
Q: And then he makes it again.
A: Exactly. Our idea was that it was always important to follow Daveís story all the way through [the film].
Q: Thank you for your time.
Stay tuned for Part III of our Q&A with the cast and crew of Kick-Ass (opening Friday, April 16th at multiplexes everywhere).. Tomorrow we talk to Clark Duke (the forthcoming A Thousand Words, Hot Tub Time Machine, Greeks, Sex Drive).
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originally posted: 04/13/10 13:25:45
last updated: 04/14/10 13:41:22