Why the Superheroes of Kick-Ass 2 are Among Cinema’s Best

 

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I would ask if you remember that they made a sequel to Kick-Ass but that would involve you remembering Kick-Ass. At first it looked like the film had garnered something of a cult following, so much so that Universal went ahead and made a sequel. Unfortunately, it was poorly reviewed and nobody showed up to actually see the movie when it came out. This is a damn shame in my opinion because even though Jeff Wadlow’s Kick Ass 2 is undeniably a flawed movie, it gets enough right that I think it merits reconsideration from a lot of people who initially dismissed it. Among the things it gets right are Justice Forever, the team of superheroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).

Justice Forever has 6 members that are new characters to the series: Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), Insect Man (Robert Emms), Night-Bitch (Lindy Booth) and a duo of parents who call themselves Remember Tommy in honor of their son who went missing (played by Steve Mackintosh and Monica Dolan). This team reflects a total understanding of why superheroes are appealing. Insect Man is gay and refuses to wear a mask because it reminds of being back in the closet. Remember Tommy wants to make the world a better place so that what happened to their son might not happen to anyone else’s. They even wear shirts with his picture and phone number too increase the chances of finding him. Night-Bitch admits she has difficulty dealing with her sisters murder but wants to channel her frustrations into something positive. All of these characters are united by wanting to make the world a safer, better place and they were all brought together by Colonel Stars and Stripes.

Colonel Stars and Stripes is a born again christian who formerly worked as a mafia enforcer. His real him is Sal Bertolinni and he is the heart and soul of Kick-Ass 2. He facilitates the group’s introduction to Kick-Ass in which we learn all of the characters’ backstories. During this meeting, he shows the utmost concern for their comfort in telling their stories to a stranger. Despite being covered head to toe in hyper-masculine military garb, he is not the kind of character who would make fun of Insect Man for being gay or Remembering Tommy for not looking like conventional heroes. The Colonel makes sure that the team is a place of total comfort and acceptance, as a superhero team should be. When we learn that Bertolinni’s arc is one of redemption for his life as a violent mafia enforcer and suddenly the appeal of this team all snaps into place.

Every one of these characters is able to bring something good out of themselves by using the outlet of becoming superheroes. There is not a single brooding character, who uses this outlet for working through juvenile anger and enacting violent fantasy as we so often see in comic movies. Instead, that role is reserved for the film’s main villain. Jeff Wadlow clearly as serious disdain for the kind of comic book fan who identifies with Rorschach when they read Watchmen and insists superheroes should be more gritty and realistic. When Stripes’ explains the goals of Justice Forever, he just talks about good people getting what they deserve.

“People should get what they deserve. A family living in the streets deserves a hot meal, an inebriated college girl deserves to make it home safe at night.”

Seriously, when is the last time in a superhero movie that you saw a superhero take a break from indulging in the fantastical aspects of the genre to talk about feeding the poor and making sure college girls get home safe? They don’t just talk about it either, we see our heroes, in full costume, volunteering their time in soup kitchens. There is a ground level feel here that it is easy to appreciate in an era where superheroes mainly just fight among themselves or against villains who are only motivated by fighting the hero personally.

Kick-Ass 2 is a bloated movie that is not always firing on all cylinders. However, when it is on its game it displays a team of heroes among the best and most interesting in the entire superhero sub genre. I highly recommend revisting Kick-Ass 2 if you haven’t seen it in a while or checking it out if you thought it wouldn’t be for you.

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