First things first — while a lot of the buzz is about Hit Girl, she's a side character. The actual movie is about the main protagonist in Kick Ass, Dave Lizewski, a geeky kid who decides to become a super hero. Here's the other trailer that focuses on Lizewski:
Some Boing Boing commenters seem concerned at a child cursing and the extreme violence, but it seems to fit the seedy underworld Millar creates. Other quick thoughts about the movie:
- Hit Girl
I'm not even going to front - I smile every time I see that kid kicking ass and taking names in the trailer. I'll pick up the books some time this weekend, to survey the story line, but it is interesting to see a tweenage girl in a role that isn't sanitized or sexualized.
- Jane Goldman took the first crack at the screenplay.
- Clicking over to IMDB, I noticed that there's a woman with the first writing credit for the screenplay. Jane Goldman, who previously worked on Neil Gaiman's Stardust, seems to be an interesting person, with her show about the paranormal, Manic Panic-red hair and journalistic background.
Mark Millar's sketchy race/gender issues
I am not familiar with Kick-Ass, but Mark Millar came up on the radar over at my blog, Racialicious, around the time when his previous title Wanted was being adapted for the screen. When Angelina Jolie got the nod to play Fox (who was drawn as a woman of color), the black geek blogs went off. We took a peek too, in light of Jolie's comments about the casting situation in A Mighty Heart. But Cheryl Lynn, lead comics mastermind over at Digital Femme, pointed out that the role of Fox was not a role to go to bat for.
Complaining about Angelina Jolie getting the role of the Fox over a minority actress is like demanding the return of BET: Uncut because there just aren't enough black women on television.
ETA: Can someone point me to a black woman who actually read Wanted and still wanted a black woman in the role of the Fox? Who didn't feel like she was being served one big Jezebel stereotype with some Sapphire on the side? Yes, there are black men who enjoyed the series, but hell, I know black men who think Oochie Wally is a damn fine song and video. I'm not saying there aren't any black women who enjoyed Wanted, I just haven't found any yet. Damn, I wanted to do cartwheels when I found out Angelina got that role.
Over on Everyday is Like Wednesday, J. Caleb Mozzocco really laid into the horrific race issues in Wanted. People of color are generally nasty thugs, or bitchy black bosses, ultimately contemptible. After showing various examples of where POC in the comic are insulted in between the lines, Mozzocco concludes:
So Wesley's a racist, even if he uses softer terms like "Spike Lee extra" and "African-American" instead of dropping N-bombs or terms as crass as The Future used.
That by itself wouldn't be all that troubling either, as Wesley is, like The Future, a villain too. One of the subversive aspects of Wanted the comic book is that it's a superhero book without any real superheroes; just villains. Wesley's a better supervillain only in that he's smarter and tougher than the other villains, and that he rapes women instead of children and animals, like The Joker Mr. Rictus.
Complicating that reading, however, is this panel:
Wesley's boss isn't a supervillain. She's just a civilian, one who appears in about two panels of the whole six-issue series. And she's giving Wesley shit, not about his job performance, but about being white. She unfairly stereotypes Wesley as being a member of the KKK and having a small dick just because he's white.
Reading through that made Millar's work harder to swallow, even in context. Fans excuse a lot in their art form of choice, but the straight up misogyny and racism is hard to swallow. Cheryl Lynn explains it best responding to a 2008 interview Millar gave Comic Book Resources:
Oh, sweet Jesus...
"The kind of characters he runs into is like Spider-Man's granddaughter, who is called Spider-Bitch and she is this black Spidey-Girl type of person that runs around in Utah. He runs into what's left of the X-Men. He runs into the remains of the Marvel Universe. And it's done in a way that you have never seen before."
Please please please please let him mean black as in the black costume and not black as in the race. Please.
Millar's Depravity vs. Hollywood's Formulas may not lead to anything interesting
Worse still - we've already seen one of Millar's works hit Hollywood. And, even if I take race and gender completely out of the equation, we've still got problems. As I wrote upon seeing Wanted (which also had a bad-ass trailer):
Sloan is a stereotypical villain. The only glimpse of potential from the character comes from close to the end of the film, where's he's giving his standard issue supervillain speech and breaks with the haughty high-handed language to implore his cronies to "shoot this motherfucker" and get back to business. A brief moment of levity in an otherwise boring ass scene, with another boring villain-escaped-so-I-scream-his-name-into-an-empty-room scene right after.
And there was my main issue with Wanted.
For a white guy against the world flick, it was boring as all hell.
While there were a couple scenes that gave me some grim amusement (the "Fuck You" flying keyboard was a nice touch) the movie was just flat. I didn't care about any of the characters. The protagonist was annoying. I saw the first plot twist coming twenty minutes before it played out on scene and started guessing the dialogue in my head.
I haven't done that since I saw Batman and Robin.
I wasn't even this bored when I saw the Departed, which is a movie based on a film I already saw six times. (Note to self: check all reviews of big budget movies before you go see them, lest you see the remake of your favorite HK action flick butchered.)
As we exited the theater, my friend Hae turned to me, confused.
"I don't know why I didn't like it," she said. "It had everything I normally like – action, guns, stunts, cars…"
I wanted to break down all the levels of suck for her, but I didn't know where to begin.
That said, much remains to be seen. The movie appears to be in final editing, and Millar has not released the eighth installment of Kick Ass. At this point, anything could happen.
Kick-Ass comic movie adaptation, with adolescent ninja girl [BoingBoing]
Kick Ass [Wikipedia]
Kick Ass [IMDB]
WANTED: A Black Actress to Play a Black Character [Racialicious]
Nah Kid [Digital Femme]
Wanted and race [Everyday Is Like Wednesday]
Oh Sweet Jesus [Digital Femme]
Summer Movies – Wall-E and Wanted [Racialicious]