‘Kick-Ass is masturbating in some scenes; Hit Girl uses the C-word. I suppose if you did break it down it seems controversial.’

H ow come no one has ever ‘done a Batman’? In a world full of disenfranchised youth, disillusioned loners and delusional outsiders, where superhero movies top the box office, comics sell by the bucket-load and Spider-Man is one of the biggest pop culture icons of all time, why haven’t more folks decided to give it a go themselves? It would seem easy just to choose an identity, pull on a mask and go out to deliver some vigilante justice.

It’s an observation that also struck Scottish comic writer Mark Millar, and inspired his recent comic series Kick-Ass. The books are set in a world of ordinary people, where no one has any super powers at their disposal, but where a new group of heroes have decided to step forward, hoping to achieve something more than the comic book icons; hoping for something real. ‘For my entire life I’ve wondered about this,’ says Millar. ‘Is real life so exciting that nobody’s ever fantasised about this? As a kid I genuinely planned to do this: Kick-Ass is genuinely autobiographical. When I was about 15, Frank Miller was doing Batman Year One, Alan Moore was writing Watchmen, and it was all about realistic superheroes. It was so well- written that it convinced my friend Paul and I. We talked about it; we said, “Let’s go to the gym, let’s do karate, taekwondo, aikido, we’ll be Batman, we’ll do it.” Bear in mind this was rural Scotland not exactly Gotham City. We spent months putting together costumes. I designed one called Mr Danger, that was kind of a Rorschach rip-off, with a hat and a trench coat and a scarf. And I’ve always thought, why

has some nutter not done that?’

Kick-Ass has been a massive hit as a comic, out-selling Spider-Man on a monthly basis and securing reprints for all eight of its issues. The film adaptation of Millar’s Wanted raked in over $340 million at the box office in 2008, and now Kick-Ass is heading for similar success. The new feature is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who had previously worked with Kick-Ass’ screenwriter, Jane Goldman, on her film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic, Stardust. Rising talent Aaron Johnson recently John Lennon in Sam Taylor- Wood’s Nowhere Boy fills the eponymous hero’s chunky boots. He plays Dave Lizewski, an everyday teen who becomes Kick-Ass after buying a costume on eBay, and who tries to make the world a better place, as much for the adrenalin rush as for any altruistic motivation. Footage of him in action hits YouTube and he becomes an overnight sensation, influencing an army of fans and copycats. The film’s collection of wannabe superheroes includes the volatile Red Mist, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, best known for his debut role as McLovin in Superbad. ‘The first few times I wore the suit I felt the most bad-ass I’ve ever felt in my whole life,’ laughs Mintz- Plasse. ‘But then about four weeks in, it got very annoying. The suit was super tight and I started getting rashes from the cape.’

This is a modern comic book fable, albeit one very obviously aimed at an adult audience. But then Kick-Ass isn’t your usual comic book movie, being packed with profanity, ultra- violence and high-octane action. It’s a project that is very close to Millar’s heart, with the Scotsman taking on co-producer duties. ‘For

Kick-Ass I had total casting authority, and wanted to be involved at absolutely every level, because it’s your reputation,’ he says. ‘[Alan Moore’s] Watchmen is a magnificent piece of work as a comic, but the public perception of Watchmen now is as a slightly better than average movie as opposed to a comics masterpiece. The public perception of my work isn’t going to be the comics because that’s a niche audience.’ But it wasn’t an easy ride. Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s script was universally panned by the studios for being too extreme. They wanted to tone down the source material. ‘I’m not kidding, it was the most exciting screenplay I had ever read,’ says Millar. ‘I remember reading it thinking, “This is like Pulp Fiction.” It just had that same zing. Superhero movies are good, but they’re not Quentin Tarantino-good. And Vaughn was like: “We’re going to make a fortune, the studios are going to go apeshit when they read this.” And they all come back inside 24 hours and said they hated it. We were expecting a bidding war, not the universe saying “this is crap”. And we asked them what was wrong and they said, “Well, Hit Girl . . .”’

That’ll be the 11-year-old potty-mouthed super assassin Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), who has a somewhat unorthodox relationship with her father (Big Daddy, as played by Nicolas Cage), and who has already incensed the Daily Mail. ‘It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s a movie, just get over it,’ says Mintz-Plasse. ‘Chloe is one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever worked with; that I’ve ever met in fact. She gets grounded for months if she swears in real life.’

‘Kick-Ass is masturbating in some scenes,

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