Lesson Objectives• To know: Why Kick Ass has been widely labelled as a particularly postmodern ﬁlm.• To consider whether Kick Ass is a particularly postmodern ﬁlm.• To begin to think about how much of contemporary cinema might justiﬁably be called postmodern.
• Kick-Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski, a comic book fanboy who decides to become a real superhero.• As Kick-Ass, Dave starts out less than successful, but eventually, he gets famous from social networking sites and the Internet, and his presence raises awareness of superheroes around New York City.• However, as crime ﬁghting becomes a more serious profession, Kick-Ass gains the attention of a local kingpin, and becomes a target for the criminal underworld. Only his association with other members of the vigilante community hes inspired can save him from their vengeance.
• What themes are consistent in super hero comic book genre?• One main protogonist - hero• He has super powers• The love interest• Ordinary• Some are geeky, others are millionaires• revenge themes plus ﬁghting crime, good evil• Villain, sidekick• Costume - to disguise self
• What lends itself to being po-mo is that it looks at what would happen if regular people tried to become superheroes in a world where superheroes don’t physically exist, they are only a myth• Kick-Ass functions as a deliberate, overt subversion of the genre by incorporating signs familiar to it (the caped costume, the origin story, the iconic villain) and tweaking our expectations (giving the protagonists guns instead of superpowers, making the superheroes hardly super or heroic)• The superhero is a cooler, more youthful hero, who is on TV, and therefore as he is partially realistic he is a very different character to the myth of a superhero.
• Kick-Ass, it can be said, deconstructs the comic book hero genre.• Except it doesn’t. By trying to deconstruct it, it shows the incomplete and superﬁcial aspects of the superhero myth that it is attempting to deconstruct.• It draws attention to the way you suspend disbelief about comic book heros, and exposes how they can be unbelieveable.• Three quarters the way through, it basically mirrors the classic superhero tale.
• The end of Kick-Ass features all that one would expect from the ﬁnale of the conventional superhero ﬁlm:• closure, a climactic end battle, the triumph of the protagonists, and the ruling out of the enemy.• True genre deconstruction, as Kick-Ass proves, can not really exist, as that would require straying far enough from the genre to reject those generic features that make it recognisable in the ﬁrst place.• To parade as a subversion of genre, a ﬁlm like Kick-Ass must, at some point, sincerely embrace the ideas behind it or it loses connection with the genre and proves how tenuous the grounds that deﬁne its genre truly are.
• Why is Kick Ass a post modern ﬁlm?• It deconstructs the comic book genre• Parody (ironic mickey taking humour) when superheroes try to ﬂy from buildings and crash• Young girl involved in bad language, adult humour and her being violent and involved with violence• Its not po-mo as it still has these features: costume, good and evil story, geek to athlete. BUT the post modern hero has no super powers nor any motive• Its plays around with the core aspect that says that all superheroes have special powers. In this ﬁlm he doesn’t and it shows how that heroes aren’t invincible. In this respect its post modern and playful and more enjoyable.• Metatextual - based on a real comic and intertextual refs - my space, youtube, spiderman, batman and the comic book style typography
Kick Ass has been widely labelled as areally postmodern ﬁlm. WHY? • It deconstructs the normal conventions of the super hero genre • Its plays around with the core aspect that says that all superheroes have special powers. In this ﬁlm he doesn’t and it shows how he isn’t invincible. • Metatextuality - ﬁlm about comic books in general and Inter textuality - references to Spiderman, Superman, Batman • Self referential - scenes set in a comic book shop, dialogue about comic books with the girl, and the drawings of comic books • Self referential when he refers to himself as a child after his mum dies and says “by the way thats not me”.
• What elements are not post modern?• Clearly deﬁnable hybrid genre of action / comedy• Doesn’t change or swop around time periods massively like in A Cock and Bull - a fairly chronological narrative• No real breaking the fourth walls - no actors address the audience
IS really all that postmodern?•A lot of people believe that the terms like postmodernand postmodernism are really just fashionable nonsense– that they don’t really mean anything. (There arepostmodern essay generators online that will createnonsense essays full of ludicrous terms –www.elsewhere.org/pomo. )•In the same way, lots of people label certain ﬁlms, tvprogrammes and so on as postmodern when they’reprobably not particularly postmodern. Or, when they onlyreally have a couple of postmodern characteristics.•In short – the adjective postmodern is over-used.•There are certainly elements of Kick Ass that arepostmodern but it’s worth us asking the question ofwhether it really is all that postmodern.
really all thatIS postmodern? What are the counter arguments?
• Why is kick ass po-mo?• Borrows genres - comedy, action adventure, romance.• It is a satire and a deconstruction of the comic book genre. Picks apart another genre to take a focussed look at it, in order to play around with the mixture of reality and myth.• By doing this you understand the limitations of super heros.• Inter textual references to Batman, Spiderman, Superman etc
• Why is it not post modern?• It does follow the normal super hero genre and doesn’t totally deconstruct• It follows a classic linear narrative
Kick Ass as Postmodern text - Conclusions
Contemporary Cinema – Postmodern?
• A critic writes:• The kills are satisfying, and there’s drama to be enjoyed. However, the execution is all in the choreography and the gimmicks – animated footage, slow motion, dismemberments and splashes of blood, and a scene designed to look like a video game. Considered on the surface, the vision of a murderous 11-year old is pretty unnecessary, another trick to shock and engage the audience.• However, it doesn’t break ground, or contribute anything very important to the action genre. 21
The same critic....• Kick-Ass makes the mistake of reducing its real- world deconstructions to the clichés that theyre lampooning.• The story toys with themes of interesting themes concerning society, and the real consequences of violence, but it never addresses the true dimensions of true superhero comic book themes, which are more moral, and more about good and evil.• Because what does Kick-Ass ultimately become, except the classic comic book fantasy cliché, with superhuman feats of strength and righteousness. 22