Kick-Ass 2: Jim Carrey, Rape, and The Sequel

So the first Kick-Ass movie rocked, right? It was one of those movies that took me completely by surprise when I saw it (If I had read the comic, I would’ve been more aware). I thought, “A bunch of nerds playing superhero? This should be funny.” And then it turned out to be a seriously violent reflection of what it means to be a superhero.

Kick-Ass 2 is no different, following suit with the dark action-comedy. It picks up after Kick-Ass (obviously). Hit Girl (a.k.a. Mindy McCready) now lives with her guardian, a police officer who was close with her father, and is starting high school. Kick Ass (a.k.a. Dave Lizewski) has been out of the superhero game for some time and is bored with living a normal life, so he starts training with Hit Girl again and joins the superhero team, Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars & Stripes (played by Jim Carrey). And Red Mist (a.k.a. Chris D’Amico) is still pissed about Kick Ass killing his mob-boss father and decides to gather a villain team while taking up his own supervillain persona, The Mother F***er.

But, of course, this movie is a sequel. And sequels (especially those that require a number after the title) are notorious for being, well, kind of terrible. So…does Kick-Ass 2 suck or live up to the first film?

Let’s start off with the one thing that’s been on everyone’s mind ever since the first trailer for Kick-Ass 2 debuted. Yes, Jim Carrey is in this movie. He plays the badass, ex-mob, born-again Christian superhero, Colonel Stars & Stripes. But if you were planning to see Kick-Ass 2 solely for Carrey, save your money. He’s in the movie for all of 10 minutes before he dies. Is it disappointing? Completely. The trailer gave away nearly all of his scenes and made it look like he was one of the main characters in this movie. But he’s nothing more than a glorified cameo. Was he good? Of course! But like I said, if this is your only reason for seeing this Kick-Ass sequel, don’t waste your time.

Kick-Ass 2 focuses on further developing the characters of Kick Ass, Hit Girl, and Red Mist (now The Mother F***er). In the first film, Kick Ass learned that being a superhero was nothing like the movies make it out to be because, sometimes, the hero gets beaten within an inch of his life or killed in one of the most brutal ways possible. This movie continues that development, except, this time, it’s all about how being a hero is a lonely existence that often gets loved ones killed. Obviously, Hit Girl already knows this, as she experienced it in the first film, but it’s finally Kick Ass’ turn, as his father is killed while trying to protect him. This is pretty typical. We’ve seen this story with Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, etc., so it’s nothing new.

Hit Girl, on the other hand, is forced into giving up her superhero identity to become a normal teenage girl. This means she has to deal with bitchy queen bees (who are unfortunately derivative of the much-funnier Mean Girls characters), dating, and keeping her new father-guardian happy. Her struggles, too, are nothing new. But it’s actually Mother F***er who has the most interesting story of all of them. He’s gone from wannabe-superhero wanting vengeance for the death of his father to wannabe-supervillain who knows more about looking like a supervillain than actually being a supervillain. We see this in his reliance on his money, his pseudo-servant Javier (who dies almost instantly), and his villainous team to do the “criminal” work for him. His story makes for good discussion because, as his imprisoned uncle told him, he doesn’t even know what evil really is.

Which leads perfectly in to what has been a very angered outcry about Kick-Ass 2‘s attempted rape scene. Now, before you turn away from that word or assume I’m going to be an annoying feminist who complains about this scene without explaining why it’s a problem, I ask you to hear me out. This is a chance to open up discussion about a very complicated topic and a scene that, quite frankly, I don’t even know what to think of.

In the comic (I did read this section), Kick Ass’ girlfriend is raped by Mother F***er because Mother F***er wants to hurt Kick Ass. Yes, it’s effective in hurting the hero, but it also falls into that “women are only objects to be used against the hero” trap that a lot of comics have been criticized for using. Creator Mark Millar didn’t help when he responded to the criticism about this scene by saying, “The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know. I don’t really think it matters. It’s the same as, like, a decapitation. It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy.” (Because how many times have women walked around worried that they might get decapitated?). Whatever, he’s a jackass. Moving on.

In the movie, director Jeff Wadlow and Millar decided not to go all the way with the rape scene, having Mother F***er trying to rape Night Bitch (Kick Ass’ superhero hookup) but failing to do so when he can’t get an erection. Naturally, this is played for laughs because Christopher Mintz-Plasse is awkward and douchey throughout this movie. Sadly—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—I’m not sure if “rape fail joke” is better or worse than showing actual rape. In terms of showing how Mother F***er is a dumbass kid trying to play villain in an adult world, this scene succeeds in proving its point. Like the scene where he says “I’m not that sick” when Mother Russia asks whether she should kill Colonel Stars & Stripes’ dog, it shows that he really isn’t prepared to be “evil.” However, the problem remains that this almost-rape was made into a joke. When a serious issue for women (who are constantly objectified in comics and are the majority of rape victims) is made to be a joke, it’s a huge slap in the face. Not that we can’t ever joke about things as a means of coping. It’s just that there’s still so much misogyny in the comic book world that this joke seems careless and extremely insensitive. (Disagree? Agree? Discuss below!)

Well, now that I’ve eaten up so much time discussing this one scene, I’ll do a quick summary of everything else. The story seemed a little rushed. Sure, we got some development of the characters, but everything seemed to happen so quickly. One minute, we’re training; the next, people are dying left and right. And sweet mother of god, there were so many new characters thrown into this movie. I couldn’t keep up with all of their names (I still don’t know them). The acting was great from all of the heroes and villains, but the high school bitches Hit Girl deals with were either written to be just ridiculously stereotypical and stupid or the actresses were lame. Not sure. Probably both.

The special effects were great. Kind of campy, but what do you expect from a comic book film? Also, Chloë Grace Moretz (who plays Hit Girl) steals most of the scenes once again. She’s just fun to watch, especially when she’s beating the hell out of random dudes and swearing up a storm (and when she calls Mother Russia a c*** in Russian…because awesome). Also, there’s a minor jab at Star Wars in this movie. See if you can spot it!

Overall, Kick-Ass 2 continues down the path of dark superhero comedy, but it’s not nearly as good as the first film. That might have something to do with a too-speedy plot, eye-rollingly bad high school stereotypes, serious violence being mocked, and the overabundance of new characters we barely know. But the movie is still fun. The comedy is current and poignant, the fight scenes are worth a watch, and the violence is as bloody as ever. Hit Girl remains a fan favorite, as she gets the best lines and fight scenes in the movie. Mother Russia, who’s a new character in Mother F***er’s band of villains, is a total badass (and seems like a cool Halloween costume). And Kick Ass is still the charming, hot nerd we grew to love in the first film. Still, the Jim Carrey cameo is such a joke. Even though he was good, he’s barely in the movie at all. In comparison to Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy role in the first film, Jim Carrey’s role seems more like a PR stunt than comedy gold.

Kick-Ass 2: B-

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