Kick-Ass, which was "The #1 Movie in America" last week, was trounced in its second weekend by How To Train Your Dragon (which is in its FIFTH week of release) and a couple of new releases, including another comic book-to-film adaptation in The Losers. Kick-Ass dropped down to the number five slot this weekend.
Kick-Ass was made for a modest $30 to $40 million, so it will make its money back and probably a few bucks on top of that for its studio.
But it recently dawned on me why I didn't like the movie: it's hero really isn't one. Yeah, I know the movie supposedly satirizes comic book conventions, while at the same time being a straight-forward enough comic book adventure, but there's no reason for the hero to do what he does.
Kick-Ass isn't motivated by a personal tragedy like Batman or Daredevil, or a greater sense of good and justice like Superman, the mold from which all other heroes are cast. In Iron Man Tony Stark spent his life making weapons but never experienced their devastating power. Once he did, he desperately wanted to change his ways. And it wasn't just being in a gunfight that changed his mind, but having a piece of shrapnel from one of his weapons permanently lodged near his heart (how's that for a metaphor for ya?).
In the movie, teenager Dave isn't motivated by anything. True, he gets his lunch money and cell phone stolen by some toughs, but that's not motivation enough to put on a costume and fight crime. The only reason seems to be, "Well, we have a comic book movie to put on, so we gotta have Dave put on a costume."
If the hero has zero motivation for what he does, other than "wouldn't it be cool if I was a superhero like in the comics I read," then the audience has the same zero motivation to watch him. It doesn't help that the movie then spends way too much time with the bad guys. We already know what the Big Bad's motivation is, it's money and power, the usual Big Bad motivation.
There was one brief moment of hope in the movie where Kick-Ass refuses to back down from defending a stranger from three goons. The odds are uneven 3 to 1, then 3 against 2 when Kick-Ass comes to the guy's aid. Both KA and the audience have no idea why the three goons are kicking the crap out of this guy, but regardless, its so not a fair fight. Kick-Ass gets beaten up nearly as badly as the stranger but he refuses to back down because the three goons aren't fighting fair. They respect him for that, and so does the audience. But the movie never has another scene like that, quickly moving on to the stories of all the additional costumed folk inspired by Kick-Ass: Big Daddy, Hit Girl and Red Mist. Perhaps if they saved that for a sequel and concentrated solely on the character of Kick-Ass they might have had something on their hands.
The movie even has the temerity to ridicule (or "satirize") Spider-Man's famous credo, With great power comes great responsibility. Kick-Ass turns it into, With no power comes no responsibility, which is a perfect motto for the ADD video game generation. Kick-Ass might as well have said, I don't give a crap and neither should you!
As it is, the fanboys came out, saw the movie and that was it. The general movie going public stayed away. A good story would have generated good word of mouth, but Kick-Ass had a muddled story that wasn't that interesting (foul language and whacking off jokes aside).
Time and again that what it truly comes down to: the story and the characters. Get those right and you have a Star Wars, Spider-Man 2, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Iron Man on your hands. Get it wrong and you have Elektra, The Golden Compass, and Wolverine to contend with. Throw Kick-Ass into the heap of the latter set.
If the studios would stop setting release dates BEFORE they have the script and casting nailed down maybe they'd make MORE money.