And Peter, who I saw it with, agrees with me.
A lot of people are whining about this movie and how morally depraved and empty it is. Here’s why:
But you see, those people are wrong. Charlie Jane Anders brings up the important point that superhero films create a context for acceptable violence, but I think her argument, that this narrative frame is similar to the frame surrounding consensual harm in BDSM, needs refining and clarification. Moreover, the Silver Ager bemoaning of a seeming lack of moral centre in this film and other self-aware superhero films is, well, a whole lot of moaning and groaning and little else. Kick-Ass is almost painfully self-aware, yes. But it’s not morally bankrupt. The story makes a compelling statement about cowardice and fantasy, and the danger of both. And that statement is that fantasy can occasionally help us overcome cowardice, but that past a certain point it only serves to enable it. The film is full of cowards: not just the bystanders who see crimes unfolding and do nothing to stop them, but the men who send their children to fight their battles for them. And down to the last man, they all suffer for that act. It’s a neat, tidy statement to make in the context of two continuing wars. It just happens to come in the form of a really fun, bloody film.