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Some Ramblings - Kick Ass
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla
kick ass

With proliferation comes the eventual de-mystification - with super heroes of every size, shape, sex and special power spread across the celluloid (and comic book world) spectrum, it is but natural that the next generation creators take the next logical step of questioning their very existence in the first place - first, their need and next their methods - having built up the myth to the hilt all this while. Well, what's so special in being special, when the repercussions of every super move produces unintended consequences of equally grave nature. Whether natural or super natural, as long as mother earth happens to be the battle ground on which the action is staged, Newton ought to be obeyed - for every super-action, an equally evil and a menacing opposite reaction is to be expected. 'With great power power comes great responsibility' demurely observes a super hero, but what about accountability? who picks up the pieces or pays the price for every super action that has gone horribly wrong? A couple of years ago, 'Watchmen' (based on the stellar graphic novel) raised the same question - if Watchmen watch the world, who watches the Watchmen ? (on a lighter vein, apparently not enough viewers, going by the box office result). What of the super heroes that have gone rogue, and turned sour? After the saturation of the celluloid with every super hero worth his salt and super power, together with his squeaky clean image and the horrible secret of his double identity that eats his away, it is fun and refreshing to make them step down their high pedestal and apply the same rules of responsibility and accountability that ordinary mortal are judged with. Though Hollywood hasn't exactly got the formula right with this 'not so super' hero genre, it certainly wasn't for the lack of trying ('Watchmen', 'Hancock', 'My Super Ex-Girl Friend')...until now. What 'Superman' was to the super hero genre, the first of its kind (at least on paper), 'Kick-Ass' would remain as the first 'real' super hero that Hollywood got it right in this de-mystification genre.

Though it can be claimed that Nolan's classic 'The Dark Knight' is a break away from the traditional path of action-guilt set for the super heroes, by dragging Batman through the same sludge of impossible moral and ethical choices as common folk confront in every day situations, the fact that he still operated with a safety net of dazzling gadgetry made him a 'well equipped' and a 'well prepared' hero, if not a super hero, in its literal sense. And 'Kick-Ass' removes even that buffer between safety and reality and the results range from hilarious to outright dangerous. The most often asked question about the super heroes is the universe they exist in and whether they are permitted to at least give nod to the real world. The answers makes a sea of difference while lending credibility to the actions and the decisions of those people with those special powers, and this is precisely the reason why Gotham City (of Nolan's Batman's world) feels more real, relatable and consequently more dangerous, than the Metropolis (of Superman universe) or New York City (friendly neighborhood of Spider-man). Half of Kick-Ass's brilliance lies in its setting and the acknowledgment to the real world; positioning it in the real world where there are/could be no super heroes and supplying the characters with all the fears, cynicism, and irony, and (this is the icing) providing them the intimate knowledge and awareness of super hero comics and movies, gives a great dramatic arc when finally a super hero does emerge out of it all, one who is not only aware of his limitations, but also quite clear as to what would happen to him while taking on evil head on. And by tilting the tone more towards comedy, as a counter point to the ultra violence, the script is allowed to act as its own devil's advocate, constantly questioning, undermining, self-doubting and self-deprecating its own intentions and motivations, and prefacing the super action with a valid disclaimer of grotesque death. One could easily picture the movie pitch to the studio executive going something along the lines of 'Woody Allen-esque loser in a super hero costume afflicted with a 'Superbad' sensibility'. The heady mixture of at least 4 completely different genres in that pitch alone is worth the price of the admission. And the rest is just gravy, super-gravy.

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This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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