Kick-Ass ’s ending was about as explicit a lead-in to a second movie as you could ask for, as Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist stares down the camera and drawls, “wait ‘til they get a load of me.”
Made for just $28 millions, the film scored around $96 million at the global box-office and a heap of critical acclaim amongst reviewers and fans alike. Understandably, it was widely accepted that Lionsgate were keen on a second helping.
However, it would take a little while before things got up and running…
We’ll allow Mark Millar to talk you through the second volume of his wildly popular comic-book series, the text which would eventually be moulded into the movie Kick-Ass 2 .
“ Kick-Ass 2 picks up immediately after the credits of the first movie,” says Millar, “and we see that Red Mist has turned his back on being an amateur superhero and wants to become the world’s first supervillain.”
“At the same time, we take the Kick-Ass idea to the next level to where all the amateur superheroes out there in New York start to form a gang and, essentially, a real-life version of the Justice League or the Avengers. It’s a very ground-level view of what a super-team would be like, their headquarters below a pub and these guys all having collections every week to pay for coffee and biscuits at their meetings.”
Price Of Success
When a sequel wasn’t immediately announced, question marks began to appear over the project. Surely everyone involved would be keen to repeat the trick, particularly given the ready availability of more source material and a likely increase in budget?
“The thing about the first movie is that it kind of exploded all our careers,” said creator Mark Millar back in 2011. “People forget, but this was a $28m indie movie made in the UK. It grossed $100m at theatres and made the same again and more on DVD and Blu-ray and got amazing reviews.”
“So everybody involved suddenly got hired for a million different things, and re-forming the band again would be impossible.”
Hard Act To Follow
Director Matthew Vaughn appeared to back-up Millar’s reservations, worrying that despite the widespread desire for a sequel, he’d struggle to recreate the success of the original.
“The weird thing with Kick-Ass 2 is that I’d love to do it, and I’d enjoy it so much,” said Vaughn. “But I’m a big believer that if you’re going to do a sequel, it’s got to be as good as the first one, if not better, and I just don’t know how I can.”
“The business brain is saying that we should shoot it, get it out there, and we’ll make a lot of money,” he continued. “I’m not saying that it’s as good as Pulp Fiction , but it would be weird if they did Pulp Fiction 2 . And everything that made Kick-Ass original and fun, I think if you did it again, it could be crass.”
Jane Goldman was another member of the original set-up to drop out of the second outing, disappointing fanboys far and wide by officially confirming her non-participation in the project.
“Saw a few erroneous reports today that I’m currently writing Kick-Ass 2 script,” tweeted Goldman. “Sorry if anyone’s disappointed, but not true. Currently writing for 2 other projects, then on to lovely Matthew V’s next thing (right now, looks unlikely to be KA2 ) when X-Men post-prod’ ends.”
Hoping And Praying
While Vaughn dithered over whether or not to push for a second outing, Christopher Mintz-Plasse was keeping his fingers crossed that the project would come to fruition.
“I talked to Matthew and he’s like, “I don’t know if I would ever direct it, but I would definitely be on board to produce it,’” said the actor. “And I’ve thought, Eli Roth would be such a cool director for this. Or someone who hasn’t done a comic book movie but gets horror ‘cause it’s very violent. Very bloody.”
“But Chloe’s working up a storm, man. She’s non-stop. So, who knows if we’ll ever do it? I know I would love to, and I think Aaron would love to. I’m sure Chloe would, but we’re all just kind of busy right now.”
Things were looking bleak for a while, until Mark Millar began to backtrack on his previous assertion that a sequel was unlikely.
“I obviously know more than I can say, but I think people will be pretty happy with the conversations we’ve been having,” said Millar, seemingly contradicting his previous naysaying.
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Millar had completed his volte-face, announcing in early 2012 that Kick-Ass 2 would begin shooting in the summer. However, with no studio confirmation forthcoming, fans weren’t holding their breath just yet…
With Millar’s words hanging in the breeze for a few more weeks, it seemed as though the Scot had spoken too soon, only for the story to break that Universal was in negotiations with Matthew Vaughn to develop the sequel.
Sure enough, confirmation was soon granted, and Kick-Ass 2 was officially up and running. However, despite playing an integral part in winning the required backing, it soon transpired that Vaughn would not be returning to the director’s chair…
With Vaughn stepping down from the director’s chair, it was announced that Cry Wolf director Jeff Wadlow would be taking his place. Wadlow had also written a script treatment for the sequel, and had met with Vaughn on several occasions before finally bagging the role.
As owner of the film’s rights, Vaughn confirmed that he would be staying on in a production capacity, but the torch was now officially passed on to a brand new director with his own creative vision.
Now that Wadlow was officially unveiled, Mark Millar decided the time was right to lift the curtain and explain that Wadlow had been in the frame behind the scenes for quite some time.
“Matthew Vaughn chose the director about 18 months ago secretly because he knew he wasn’t going to be doing Kick-Ass 2 since he had taken on the X-Men franchise,” said Millar. “For a little while, a few weeks, it looked like he might do Kick-Ass 2 , but they poured a bucket of money over him to do X-Men instead.”
“Jeff Wadlow had been talking to Matthew about doing this move Bloodshot a couple of years back and Matthew was really impressed with his script. He’d done a couple of movies on a small budget, and Matthew was like ‘trust me, this is the guy’.”
“So the three of us have been talking seriously for about eight months, and Jeff turned in a final draft of the screenplay about eight weeks ago. It’s in really nice shape to start shooting in eight or nine weeks’ time.”
Glass Case Of Emotion
Wadlow soon established his plan for the sequel by stressing the emotional heft he hoped to pack into the new storyline.
“I think the most important thing that’s gonna change from the Kick-Ass 2 comic to Kick-Ass 2 the movie was just really finding an emotional story to tell." said Wadlow. "Because what I certainly loved about the first film, and what I think elevated it above most comic book adaptations, is the heart and the emotion in it.”
“"It was sort of my challenge as the film maker and storyteller to find something as emotional in the second film,” continued the director. “I think we have some stuff that people are gonna really respond to.”
The Dark Side
Whereas the first film focused upon the rise of a have-a-go superhero, the second film will tell the story of the first supervillains.
“ Kick-Ass was about a kid who loved superhero comics going out dressed up as a superhero and doing what he had always fantasized about doing,” says Mark Millar. “The sequel is more like A Clockwork Orange , about a bunch of little shits who are like “Oh my god there’s these superheroes out there, let’s go and fuck them up.’”
“They dress up as super villains to try and find them and go about doing robberies and rapes dressed as super villains. Kick-Ass felt like what a real superhero would be like and Kick-Ass 2 is about what a supervillain would be like.”
Given the furore generated by Chloe Moretz uttering the word “cunt” in the first film, could Millar and co. be tempted to tone things down a notch, second time out? Well, what do you think?
“Every horrible scene in the book will be in the film,” says Millar. “The cunt line in the first one, everybody said ‘there’s no way you’re getting that in the movie’, but it happened and it’s the same thing with this.
“Everybody is saying ‘you can’t have a gang rape scene with supervillains’ and ‘you can’t have the dog’s head cut off’, but every single one of those scenes will go in it.” The Daily Mail will be pleased…
Happily, the original cast members were only too happy to rejoin the party, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson quick to re-sign as schoolboy superhero Kick-Ass.
“I’m excited to get back in the suit,” exclaimed the star. “The only way Matthew Vaughn was ever going to make a sequel was if it could be anywhere close to the first one, and keep that class and that quality, and just maintain something original and new and refreshing. And this script delivers all of that, right now.”
As Does Hit-Girl
Clearly not ruffled by the commotion caused by her appearance first time around, Chloe Moretz soon signed on to reprise her role as Hit-Girl, with Jeff Wadlow explaining how her character would fit into proceedings second time around.
“If you’ve read the comic, you know, she gives up being Hit-Girl, which was a brilliant idea I thought on Mark’s part," said Wadlow. "It’s something I explore quite deeply in the movie because what happens in the comic is she sort of steps away from the story in many ways.”
“She’s sort of sidelined while Dave is working with Justice Forever and Chris is becoming The Motherfucker," he explains. "But I was quite interested in what happens to her when she’s not being Hit-Girl. Her story is a major, major part of the film.”
According to Millar, the film will split fairly neatly into two sections, one drawing on his Hit-Girl storyline, and the other adapting the Kick-Ass 2 comic-book.
“The [ comic ] was always planned as a 12-issue story broken into two parts, but they each have to stand in their own right,” he explains. “You can read one and not have to read the other, but when you go and see the movie, it’s basically Hit-Girl for 45 minutes and then an hour of Kick-Ass 2 .”
“There is no bigger fan of the first movie than me,” he continues. “I think it’s pretty close to perfect. But there’s so much in this, the whole thing so rich, that I honestly think this might be the Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars .”
Red Mist Descending
The first film finished with Christopher Mintz Plasse’s Red Mist licking his wounds and planning to reinvent himself as a supervillain, so its handy that the actor was also only too happy to sign up for round two.
“They wrote an incredible script,” explains the star. “It’s super violent and bloody and funny and it’s got a great cast. I’m really excited. I fly out to London in a week to get started.”
And in a particularly eye-catching piece of summation, he went on to describe the film as “ Warriors meets Kick-Ass ”. Now, who doesn’t want to see that?
Good To Be Bad
While Red Mist is returning for a second outing, he won’t be quite the same as he was in the first film. Embittered by the death of his father, Red Mist takes a turn for the dark side and becomes the character known in the characters as The Motherfucker.
“To see the guy you know as the charming McLovin doing awful things, it’s going to be doubly upsetting," says Millar gleefully. "and that was always the plan. He’s a very, very underrated actor.”
“I think sometimes if you do comedy, people don’t accept that you are a serious actor, “he continues, “but he’s one of those guys who can turn his mind to anything.”
Why So Serious?
Millar is aiming high with his portrayal of Mintz-Plasse’s bad guy, taking inspiration from a famous comic-book villain, and attempting to outdo him at his own game.
“It’s gangs going all over New York filming atrocities on their cell phones and putting them on the internet,” he explains, “trying to outdo each other, all at the behest of Red Mist .”
“My idea for Red Mist was to introduce a supervillian that made Heath Ledger’s Joker look like Cesar Romero’s Joker. He’s basically Charles Manson as a supervillain.”
Drawing A Line
However, while The Motherfucker might be a nasty piece of work, he won’t be quite as repugnant as the version you might be familiar with from the comics.
“The rape scene is not in it,” says Mintz-Plasse, in reference to one of his character’s more infamous moments. “There’s a version of it, but there’s no rape. Thank God.”
Taylor-Johnson has also commented on that particular episode, backing up Mintz-Plasse’s claim that the scene has been nixed from the script. “There are some really disturbing things in the comic book which we’re not gonna put in,” he said, “I think for the better.” Probably wise…
A new persona requires a new look and since he’s no longer operating as Red Mist, The Motherfucker has got a whole new outfit. And it involves a whole lot of leather.
Recent on-set pics have given us a sneak peak of the bad guy’s new look, and we have to admit, it’s fairly intimidating. In a vaguely sadomasochistic way…
Red Mist won’t be doing it all on his own, mind. He’ll have some rather serious backup in the form of Mother Russia, a hulking female bodyguard hailing from behind the Iron Curtain.
A casting call went out back in July 2012, looking for a very specific type of actress, giving us our first idea of what we can expect from the new villain.
“Classic Villain," begins the description. "An ex-KBG officer who is now being paid by the week by Chris to fight in his group - she is easily the most skilled and just a ruthless killer in general. Described as a ‘roided-out female bodybuilder, she needs to be extremely physically imposing and muscular, though still come across as feminine. As tall as possible (6ft and over only).”
Despite the aforementioned brief sounding a little optimistic, Wadlow and co. found their woman in the form of Ukrainian bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina. And while we don’t know what she’s like as an actress, she certainly looks the part.
Best of all, her casting allowed Wadlow the opportunity to post the amusing photograph you can see above, accompanied by the caption, “Chris just met Mother Russia!” Mintz-Plasse’s expression is priceless…
Mother Russia will be part of one of the film’s big fight scenes, with Mark Millar talking up a David and Goliath clash between her and Hit-Girl as one of the highlights of the film.
“The Mother Russia fight is going to be one of the most brutal and epic battles in cinema,” he gushed. “Think how good Mindy is, and then multiply it to 300 pounds of female muscle just pounding her and using every weapon you can imagine in the midst of that big final battle.”
Not one you’d want to get in the middle of, by the sounds of it.
Mother Russia isn’t the only hired muscle watching The Motherfucker’s back. He’s also got another bodyguard by the name of Javier, who will be played by John Leguizamo.
That’s all the info we’ve got on the guy so far, as the character doesn’t appear as named in the comic-book. As far as we can tell, he’s one of the faceless entourage the Motherfucker keeps close to him in the books. Their collective name? The Toxic Mega-Cunts. True story.
Speaking of Toxic Mega-Cunts, Andy Nyman is going to playing another of them, with the British actor set to appear as a charmingly-monikered villain known only as The Tumour.
As with Javier, he’s a character devised specially for the film, but with a name like that, we can’t imagine he’s going to be a stand-up chap.
Badge Of Honour
While it seems unlikely that the Motherfucker’s faction will retain their sweary name from the comic-book, they can at least console themselves with a cool logo to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.
A skull and crossbones, formed out of a pair of assault rifles, with devil horns thrown in for good measure? Yeah, we’d say it looks pretty evil…
The Doctor Is In
With The Motherfucker swelling his ranks with reinforcements, it’s only fair that Kick-Ass should receive some backup of his own, with Scrubs star Donald Faison signing up to play another vigilante named Dr. Gravity.
Wielding a baseball bat like a champ, the good Doctor becomes a valuable ally of Kick-Ass, and is a member of the vigilante group Justice Forever. But more on them, later…
Another of Kick-Ass’s colleagues will be played by one of Jeff Wadlow’s former collaborators, Lindy Booth, who has signed on to play the wonderfully named “Night Bitch”.
Having seen her sister brutally murdered in cold blood, she is another lost soul who decides to dedicate her life to fighting crime. And obviously, you can’t do that to any great effect without a totally badass pseudonym…
Above The Law
Robert Emms will also be fighting on the side of right, having been cast as the bizarre Insect Man, a policeman by day who uses a secret identity to employ some crime-fighting techniques frowned upon by his employers.
As you might have guessed from his name, his costume makes him look a bit like an insect. Well, it takes all sorts we suppose…
Filling out the cast some more will be Morris Chestnut, although his character won’t be sneaking out after dark to kick seven shades out of the local scumbags. Nope, he’ll be taking on the far more responsible position of Hit-Girl’s guardian.
At the end of the first film, Hit-Girl was placed in the custody of her old man’s former police partner. Whether Chestnut will be taking over that role remains to be seen, although we do know he’ll be acting as a substitute father figure for the troubled teen.
Clark Duke will be reprising his role from the first film as Dave’s buddy Marty, although this time out he might get to be a little more hands on, leaving the security of the comic-book store to get stuck in on the streets.
“I get a costume in this one,” says Duke, and also a name to boot. That’s right, Clark Duke is… Battle Guy! Okay, so it’s not quite Night Bitch, but it’s something.
Lyndsy Fonseca will also return as Dave’s would-be girlfriend Katie Deauxma, but it sounds as though she’ll only have a minor role, sparing her the character’s unpleasant fate alluded to earlier in this feature.
“She’s just in the beginning, so far. I’m just happy to be involved,” says Fonseca. “She’s still the strange Katie – somewhat girl next door but has strange, drug-addict boyfriends and works at the needle exchange. Very contradicting personality traits... It’s still that weird!”
Yancy Butler only made a brief appearance in the first film as Red Mist’s mother, but she made enough impression on Wadlow and co. to warrant a second outing as the matriarch of the D’Amico clan.
Whether or not her role is beefed up at all second time out remains to be seen, but given the way her son begins to change, we can’t imagine he’ll be paying her much attention.
At this point we’d heard a lot of chatter but seen very little in the way of images or promotional material. However, Warner would soon throw fans a bone with the release of a first official banner poster.
Granted, there wasn’t much to it beyond the title (complete with a blood-spattered “2”), but it did at least make the whole thing feel a mite more official.
Millar is keen to stress that the second film won’t just be a retread of the first, with the crew making a concerted effort to avoid going over old ground wherever possible.
“To get myself vibed up, we watched the first Kick-Ass again before we went down (to watch some new footage), and the thing that pleased me was the fact this feels like a continuation and an evolution as opposed to a retread. It doesn’t have that Hangover 2 thing where it’s just the same jokes.”
“It feels very new and fresh and all the new characters really work. Chloe’s scenes work especially well. The tiny death-dealer from the first movie was a great gag, but the fact she’s 3 years older now works great as it makes the movie go into a slightly different place, allowing her to be teased and bullied by people in school she’s not allowed to kill.”
Indeed, Chloe Moretz is thrilled that the character has been aged-up for the movie, praising the writers for not making her “go back in time”.
“I'm not going back in time, which is good. I'm growing up with this, so it's just an older sophisticated version of Hit-Girl and we don't take away who she was but you see Mindy more in this movie and you see her struggle with who she is and try to figure out what she likes, if she likes this, if she likes that, who is she?
“It was really funny because I only had a weekend off in between Carrie and Kick-Ass so I went from wearing blood every day of my life for the last three weeks of shooting Carrie , to starting Kick-Ass . The first thing I shot was me in full Hit-Girl mode, knives, guns…”
Claudia Lee will play a character named Brooke who sets about giving Mindy as much grief as is humanly possible when she starts at a new high school. Lee has clearly been drilled not to give much away, but she does at least sound enthusiastic about the role.
“The whole essence of Brooke’s attitude is what helped me to create her persona,” she says, cryptically. “I am a fan of the Kick-Ass comic book series, so I was drawn to bring out all of those qualities that Brooke possesses.”
“I love Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s work. I’ve read the first two Hit-Girl issues and I can’t wait for the rest of them. In Kick-Ass 2 you will see some of Brooke’s unique personality, but there is definitely more of her character to develop."
Kick-Ass himself might not go through such a turbulent change, but according to Aaron Taylor-Johnson,he’ll still have a journey of his own to navigate.
“You'll see that there's not such a transition in him at first but there is a journey that he goes on. I think there's a challenge in trying to make him grow as a person and develop.
“To have a journey and an arc I think there's a challenge in that. He's got to have some similarity to the last one. It's going to be challenging I think."
Sitting In A Tree
There’s also a sniff of some romance between our favourite superheroes, with on-set pictures capturing Hit-Girl planting a smacker square on Kick-Ass’s mouth.
Pleasingly, he still looks like a scruffy teenager, while she’s vamping it up with long blonde locks and a purple motorcycle. Come on Dave, keep up mate!
Kick-Ass 2 will see both Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass struggling with the age-old superhero problem of having their secret identity rumbled. In the case of Hit-Girl, her alter-ego is widely known, which makes things a little awkward for her at high school… although bullies can only pose so much of a problem!
Meanwhile, Kick-Ass will also have his identity as mild-mannered Dave Lizewski compromised, a state of affairs that puts him in chronic danger. Could we suggest a pair of glasses? Works for Clark Kent…
Another new character was soon confirmed as Colonel Stars, a gruff ex-military man in charge of recruiting and leading Justice Forever, a kind of rag-tag Justice League formed by the comic-book's motley collection of heroes. He also has ties to the mob gang run by Frank D'Amico, although he left organised crime many years ago in order to have a crack at fighting it.
And who should be lined up to play him? Well, Jeff Wadlow wasn’t about to show his hand just yet, but he did drop a rather significant hint on Twitter back in September.
“6 days till we start shooting…" said Wadlow through the social networking site, "and we officially have our Colonel. Alrighty f’n then!” Any ideas…?
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Jim Carrey was officially confirmed as the Colonel, with Mark Millar particularly excited to have bagged his man.
“Matthew Vaughn, Jeff Wadlow and I did a conference call with Jim a couple of weeks back,” said Millar, “and we’ve been itching to talk about this ever since because the energy Jim’s going to bring to Colonel Stars has me buzzing as much as Nic Cage with Big Daddy.”
“We didn’t quite know what Jim was going to be doing in the sequel,” he continued, “but the entire team loves him to bits and I’ve been a fan since I first saw him.”
The Plot Thickens
Carrey’s unveiling was swiftly followed by the release of a first official synopsis, fleshing out some of the plot’s finer details, and confirming much of what Millar had already revealed to the press.
“When we last saw Hit-Girl (Moretz) and Kick-Ass (Johnson), they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world's first superhero team with Mindy.
"Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit-Girl, she's forced to retire - leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Carrey).
"Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world's first super villain, The Mother Fucker (Mintz-Plasse), assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl pay for what they did to his dad. But there's only one problem with his scheme: If you mess with one member of Justice Forever, you mess with them all.”
Shooting began in the UK at the back end of 2012, with much of the location work taking place on the streets of London. One sequence was spotted being shot on Denmark Street, famous for its iconic record stores and music venues.
No news on what exactly has been shot there, but it seems odd to film in such a recognisable locale if none of the action is actually to be set in London…
Rest In Pieces
Jeff Wadlow hasn’t given too many interviews since taking over the director’s chair, but he has been active on Twitter, teasing some of the film’s key moments with a few well-chosen images.
“What do you keep in your coffin?” he queried, tweeting a picture of an open casket full of automatic weaponry.
This is clearly a reference to one of the film’s big action sequences, set during a funeral, when all hell suddenly breaks loose. Room in that grave for a few more?
Spoiler Alert! Nic Cage’s character Big Daddy didn’t make it out of the first movie alive, but there have been persistent rumours concerning a cameo in the follow-up nonetheless.
And while Jeff Wadlow hasn’t confirmed his appearance outright, he did tweet a picture of the big man’s costume, accompanied by the caption, “nobody puts Daddy in the corner.” We smell a dream sequence or a flashback coming on…
Never one to hold back his opinions, Mark Millar delivered a blow by blow account of his sit-in on the editing process, claiming that the film is looking rather special indeed.
“I'd seen over 40 mins before, but seeing the edited version of the next 20 mins gave me a very comprehensive look for how the finished movie is going to look and I was actually quite shocked. I won't spoil scenes for anyone who hasn't read the source material (the Hit-Girl series and Kick-Ass 2 comic), but there are so many great moments here.
“Kubrick said that a great movie has eight terrific moments. I lay in bed this morning and counted fourteen genuine movie-moment scenes. You can look at the book and probably guess these, but they're articulated so beautifully. I was really happy when I came away a couple of weeks back, but the Millar Gang and I were ecstatic when we left Eddie's suite yesterday.”
Kick-Ass 2 will open in UK cinemas on 19 July 2013, putting it up against such hyped summer contenders as Man Of Steel , Pacific Rim and The Wolverine .
Quite a crowded field then. That said, as soon as the tabloids get hold of the first whiff of a C-word, we’re sure Kick-Ass 2 will have all the publicity it needs to hold its own at the box office.
Mark Millar is still writing the Kick-Ass series, although he admits that the end is fast approaching.
“The third book of Kick-Ass is the last book, there won’t be any more after that. Even though it’s the biggest book I’ve ever done, I’ve really always thought there’s an end in sight, so I plan on finishing it in a year’s time.”
“It’s basically illegal to wear a costume at this point, so that’s quite interesting. I used to love Marvel Comics where the cops were chasing superheroes, seeing them as menaces because they’re not licensed in any way. So I kind of like the idea of bringing that back, because in reality there’s no way a cop or a fireman is going to let a guy in a suit run into a building."
“I like the idea that after they have stopped a mugging they have to run away for the police. That old-fashioned superhero thing.”