Fight! Jim Carrey vs Mark Millar over Kick-Ass 2 gun violence

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The fight will be gentlemanly fisticuffs only. Carrey—who has been coming out pretty strongly for gun control in recent months—portrays Colonel Stars and Stripes in the KICK-ASS 2 film coming out in August. (BTW, we get a strong Sergeant Hatred vibe from this, image; do you?) But in two weekend tweets, Carrey distanced himself from the film—and presumably won’t be doing any promotion for it—saying that post-Sandy Hook, his views had changed.


KICK-ASS creator Mark Millar, never one to shy away from a high-profile controversy (he’s taken on Eminem and countless movie studios in the past) took to his forum to respond:

First off, I love Jim Carrey. When producer Matthew Vaughn and director Jeff Wadlow called me up and suggested we do a conference call with him to talk about the sequel to the 2010 original I was genuinely excited. Like you, I love Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. Carrey is an actor like no other, an unpredictable force of nature who brings a layered warmth and humanity to his work as well as that unstoppable energy he’s always been renowned for. He had lunch with Matthew around the time of the first movie and dug it so much he appeared that night on Conan O’Brien DRESSED as Kick-Ass, singing a duet with Conan dressed as Superman. Vaughn and I made a mental note to work with this guy as soon as possible as we’re both huge admirers.

Cut to almost three years later and I’m sitting in a screening room in London watching what I think is one of Carrey’s best-ever performances. I’d seen Kick-Ass 2 in many forms, but this was the absolute final cut complete with opening titles, music and a terrific post-credit sequence you’re all going to love. I couldn’t be happier with this picture. It’s as good as the original and in many ways BIGGER as it expands upon the universe and really takes things to the next level. There are a lot of stand-outs in the sequel, every actor really firing on full cylinders and an amazing script that moves like a rocket. But Carrey in particular is magnificent. He’s never done anything like this before and even from the trailer, with his masked dog sidekick specially trained to munch criminal balls, you can see that something really fun and special is happening here. Colonel Stars and Stripes is so charismatic and all his scenes are up there with Nic Cage’s amazing turn as Big Daddy in the original… which made it all the more surprising when Jim announced tonight that the gun-violence in Kick-Ass 2 has made him withdraw his support from the picture.

As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I’m baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you’re going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckenpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.

Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. Imagine a John Wayne picture where he wasn’t packing or a Rocky movie where Stallone wasn’t punching someone repeatedly in the face. Our audience is smart enough to know they’re all pretending and we should instead just sit back and enjoy the serotonin release of seeing bad guys meeting bad ends as much as we enjoyed seeing the Death Star exploding. The action in Kick-Ass 2 is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The humour, the characters, the heart and the set-pieces are all things we’re very proud of and the only warning I’d really include is that it’s almost TOO EXCITING. Kick-Ass 2 is fictional fun so let’s focus our ire instead of the real-life violence going on in the world like the war in Afghanistan, the alarming tension in Syria right now and the fact that Superman just snapped a guy’s [frick]ing neck.

Jim, I love ya and I hope you reconsider for all the above points. You’re amazing in this insanely fun picture and I’m very proud of what Jeff, Matthew and all the team have done here. Love and Peace, Mark Millar @mrmarkmillar


While neither party will suffer from this kerfuffle—the movie will get more attention, the increasingly weird-acting Carrey will be praised for taking a stand, and Millar gets to punch above his nerdlebrity-weight by engaging with Carrey—there are actual ISSUES here, people, As Carrey notes, he read the script 18 months AGO and then….THINGS CHANGED after Sandy Hook.

Millar’s response also blurs the line—is this a film that deals in dark-humored fashion with the real-life consequences of violence, as the first 45 minutes or so of KICK-ASS did? Or an over the top crazy-ass action movie that revels in violence for its own sake like the second half? (I enjoyed KICK-ASS but the change in tone in the second half brought it down a notch in my estimation.)

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What do you guys think—was KICK-ASS meta commentary or just another wallow? And what will KICK-ASS 2 be?

Comments

  1. I feel both sides of this argument. As a gun owner who became so, because of two druggies deciding to let themselves into my apartment while I slept, and someone who has 0% trust in the government to do what is right for my wellness and freedom, because 911 put me on hold, I think Carry has about as good a point on the subject as an overly idealistic 12 year old. If a bunch of 6 foot tall thugs want to brake into my house and to terrible things to my family, a gun is the only way I think I’m going to be able to keep them safe. However, having worked at a movie theater, I have seen that movies do have an effect on people. Someone unstable people (and I’d put those people at about half the worlds population) will come out of a violent movie, more psyched up to do some violence than before they went in. Let’s face it. A guy gunned down a bunch of people in a theater, at a Batman movie, dressed similar to the Joker, and had bombs in his apartment, just like the Joker keeps bombs around. If you’re going to stand there and tell me there’s no connection, then you have some serious denial issues. Sorry, but you do. What can you do, accept ask film makers and storytellers to be a bit more responsible about what kind of stories they tell. If they aren’t, then remember that you’re voting with your dollars. This is America (at least where I’m typing from) and I believe that we need to be 100% censorship free. We may not always like what that means, but hey, it’s the price of freedom. I loved Millar’s Kick Ass, because he really did show some consequences. In the comics, Big Daddy’s actions catch up with him, and he ends up getting his face blown off. Good on Millar.

  2. I wonder how his comments will effect the movie.

  3. Thomas Wayne says:

    •July 22, 1950: New York City, New York A 16-year-old boy was shot in the wrist and abdomen at the Public School 141 dance during an argument with a former classmate.

    •November 27, 1951: New York City, New York David Brooks, a 15-year-old student, was fatally shot as fellow-pupils looked on in a grade school.

    •April 9, 1952: New York City, New York A 15-year-old boarding-school student shot a dean rather than relinquish pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.

    •July 14, 1952: New York City, New York Bayard Peakes walked in to the offices of the American Physical Society at Columbia University and shot and killed secretary Eileen Fahey with a .22 caliber pistol. Peakes was reportedly upset that the APS had rejected a pamphlet he had written.

    Wonder what caused these tragedies since there was no over the top movie, video game and tv violence to insight the shooters?

    Must have been comics….lol (Damn that Frederic Werthem)

  4. Scratchie says:

    Wow, Millar comes off as kind of stupid and missing the point here.

  5. Joe S. Walker says:

    “He’s never done anything like this before and even from the trailer, with his masked dog sidekick specially trained to munch criminal balls, you can see that something really fun and special is happening here.”

    If by some strange mischance I’d found myself wanting to see this film, that would have cured it.

  6. Joe S. Walker says:

    Incidentally it wouldn’t astonish me if this “controversy” was a set-up.

  7. george says:

    Does “Kick-Ass” have any purpose other than to show graphic violence in a tongue-in-cheek manner that fanboys will regard as cool? I can’t argue with Roger Ebert’s description of the first movie as “morally reprehensible.”

  8. Synsidar says:

    I’d say there’s a problem whenever extreme violence in a film is presented as something to be enjoyed. Millar referred to the pleasure of seeing bad guys meet bad ends–but who is supposed to enjoy the sight of someone being killed in a realistic fashion? The same people who fantasize about how great it would be to kill Arab terrorists?

    If the violence isn’t realistic, just cartoonish, then it won’t be cathartic, presumably.

    Imagine how people would react if viewers of MAN OF STEEL cheered when Zod was killed and argued that society needed more of that–let the bad guys get what they deserve without all those messy legal and ethical processes. Making violence in a story cathartic for anyone viewing or reading it always causes problems.

    SRS

  9. I’m not seeing where Carrey is saying that film violence leads to real life violence. I get that that is where the debate is going but it’s not what Carrey said – it’s a bit of a straw man reaction from Millar.

    If something effects you deeply, it’s okay to be uncomfortable with reminders of it. Carrey hasn’t told anyone else not to see the film, nor is he campaigning against it. I think that’s an important difference to recognise but it seems Millar is responding to something very different.

  10. george says:

    Laura Sneddon said: “Carrey hasn’t told anyone else not to see the film, nor is he campaigning against it.”

    Much like Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t do press for the ultra-violent “Django Unchained,” but he didn’t urge people not to see it, either.

    Millar seems to think people are attacking his right to write a violent story, which nobody is. But not everyone thinks broken bones and spurting blood are fun to look at — and Miller clearly does try to depict violence as fun, hip and cool. People have the right to avoid “Kick-Ass 2″ when it plays their local multiplexes.

    Some of the people he mentions — Eastwood, Peckinpah, Boorman and Stone — depicted the horror and futility of violence, and how it scars people who resort to it. Millar seems closer to Tarantino, who depicts violence as cool — and the more brutal damage you inflict on your enemy, the cooler you are.

  11. steverino says:

    I feel divided.

    Yes, “Miller clearly does try to depict violence as fun, hip and cool” but there do seem to be consequences in the story, too, from the murder of Dave Lizewski’s dad to Hit-Girl cooling her heels in prison. It could be argued that these experiences are at least as deeply felt as the thrills the violence provides. Also, Romita and Palmer’s artwork doesn’t skimp on the gnarly results of violent fights. The heroes and villains alike end up bedraggled and dirty and bloody and bruised, even when they survive.

    On the other hand, I sometimes think that Millar does go too far, at least for my tastes. I appreciate that he can tell a thrilling story with lots of surprises, but sometimes I’m troubled about the way the his stories develop, and I’m reminded of Ebert’s review with his criticisms.

    On the third hand, I’m so happy to support independent creators as opposed to the Big Two’s corporate comics.

    Okay, one more hand – on the fourth hand! – Millar’s makes a lot of good points, especially when he references the Death Star, Harry Potter, and Zack Snyder’s Superman. I guess a pertinent answer there is that the craziest movie-goer won’t come out of a movie and have recourse to light-sabres, magic wands, or super-strength… but yeah, disturbed people can come out of a movie and lay their hands on guns. All too easily.

    Like I said, I feel divided.

  12. george says:

    I should have said my criticisms were mainly directed at the 2010 movie version of “Kick-Ass.” The comic book did at least have some ambivalence — not a lot, but some — about taking the law into your own hands. And it did dwell on the downside of engaging in violence, more than the cheap-thrills movie did.

    For me, the movie was made palatable by Nicholas Cage’s hilarious performance (with a dead-on Adam West impersonation). Without him, it would have been 2 hours of ugliness and unpleasantness.

    The movie really debunked the whole idea of superheroics. Why bother learning martial arts and training your body to physical perfection, when you can get a gun and shoot the bad guy in the head? It was a glorification of lowering yourself to the level of your enemy, without a whole lot of irony.

  13. “Incidentally it wouldn’t astonish me if this “controversy” was a set-up.”

    Yes, I’m sure Jim Carrey is invoking a real-life tragedy just to get people to see the movie he’s telling people he doesn’t want to promote.

  14. Majorjoe23 says:

    Yeah, if Carrey had been more vague about the reasoning, I could buy this being an attempt at drumming up interest. To specifically cite Sandy Hook? No chance.

  15. Silly but True says:

    I’m divided on this. On one hand, Kick Ass 2 just looks like a shit movie. On the other, Jim Carrey is most certainly idiot.

    I have a feeling that if Team America (only here do I feel the need to clarify the movie, not the toy or licensed comic series) were filmed today, Jim Carey would get one of the top spots along side Matt Damon.

    How about Jim and Angus T. Jones team up on a new show: “Sadomasochism,” where they interview a new Hollywood guest each week who professes their hatred for their current contract.

    Silly but True

  16. jacob lyon goddard says:

    I dont recall seeing any consequences at the end of Kick Ass.

  17. George Bush (not that one) says:

    James Holmes actually never said he was the joker, that was later retracted.Nor did he dress like the Joker, he was found in a car dressed in bulletproof armour and gas mask. He didn’t have a comic collection. There does not seem to be any connection to comics and the Aurora shooting except what the media mis-reported.

  18. Silly but True says:

    “The action in Kick Ass 2 is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

    I suppose the expiration date in Hollywood on “nothing like you’ve ever seen before” is precisely 27 years.

    To be clear, “Chopper [sic] balls” was absolutely hilarious in Stand by Me. Because it wasn’t true. It was the neighborhood myth created by young boys to explain something unknown that scared them. Which was the entire point of that coming-of-age story.

    I don’t know what to say about the description “[dog munching criminal balls] is special and fun.”

    It might have at least been “fresh” when Veitch did his own ultraviolent superhero deconstructionism in that sidekick comic series with the superheroine who castrated and collected “criminal balls.”

    But this? It’s not like nothing I’ve seen before. And I don’t think it’s funny given the number of movies and superhero comics that have taken their turn at castration humor. Hell, Preacher’s take on dog-munching is likely to be a million times more hilarious.

    Silly but True

  19. george says:

    I think Carrey is sincere. After all, he made a video where he portrayed Charlton Heston as a deranged gun nut.

    A lot of Mark Millar’s comic books epitomize a problem with the medium. “Wanted,” “The Authority” and “Kick-Ass” are full of material that fans drool over and think is way cool, but people outside fandom regard as bizarre, repugnant and psychotic. (Grant Morrison regards “Wanted” as a picked-upon fanboy’s dream of gaining the power to commit murder and rape with no consequences.)

    Maybe this is what happens when you grow up idolizing Frank Miller.

  20. Snikt Snakt says:

    So a has-been vs. a never-was? Yawn…

  21. I actually thought Millar’s response was diplomatic and stayed on message — airing his views while remaining personally respectful of Jim Carrey and his opinions. And though he doesn’t go in too much depth about it, I understand where Carrey is coming from. If only such disagreements of opinion over such hot-button topics were this thoughtful and civilized!

  22. george says:

    “I dont recall seeing any consequences at the end of Kick Ass.”

    Exactly. Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” is just as gory, but it has consequences: every member of the Bunch is DEAD at the end.

  23. george says:

    Lead to Leonard Maltin’s review of Kick-Ass 2:

    “The original Kick-Ass made me squirm, but this foul-minded follow-up made me want to leave the theater. What an ordeal to sit through! Even in a summer dominated by unwelcome sequels and bloated blockbusters, Kick-Ass 2 stands out as a genuinely repugnant movie.”

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Beat – Fight! Jim Carrey vs Mark Millar over Kick-Ass 2 gun violence – I actually think Millar was restrained in his response. Almost [...]

  2. [...] only some of the individual who thought so, as you can tell here and here. Even celebrities are questioning certain entertainment options (although, for that record, I truly enjoy Kick-Ass [...]

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