“In all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence,” said Jim Carrey in June of this year. “Recent events have caused a change in my heart.” And with that he was gone, distancing himself from Kick-Ass 2 and his role as the nutbag Colonel Stars and Stripes.
The colonel is a born-again Christian with a hatred of profanity but a fondness for putting the hurt on bad guys. He even has an Alsatian especially trained to attack villains in the testicular area. Righteous beat-downs are part and parcel of the character’s kooky modus operandi, but in the wake of the appalling shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Carrey was struggling to see the humour anymore. “I am not ashamed of the film,” he insisted, but his message was clear: he was disowning the scurrilous comic-book sequel, and would be doing nothing to promote its release.
Rewind to October 2012. Yahoo! is on the Kick-Ass 2 set at Pinewood, and while Carrey has already completed his scenes and departed, there’s nothing but enthusiasm from the rest of the cast about his involvement. “He’s been a good man; we’re really lucky to have him,” says Aaron Taylor-Johnson, reprising his role as Dave Lizewski, still moonlighting as the titular wetsuited amateur superhero. “He’s brought that kind of mad, kinky style that Nicolas Cage brought to the first film. We’d have missed that element otherwise. He has that same sort of energy. He’s wearing all these mad prosthetics, and he’s super-funny and super-quick. He’s in his element!”
“What he’s done with his character is insane,” agrees Hit-Girl Chloe Moretz. “He’s definitely one of the coolest things in the movie.”
There’s no getting away from the fact however, that the coolest things in the movie are the fight sequences. In the UK, the original Kick-Ass swiftly built a reputation for having more swearing and killing than was usual for a ‘15’ certificate. “I couldn’t believe it!” marvels Mark Millar, creator of the original comics and overseer of the films. “All the way through the first Kick-Ass, I thought it would be cut.” He was quick to promise that the sequel would be similarly no-holds-barred. “There’s absolutely no chance of this getting a 12A. If it does, it means the world’s gone f**king mad.”
The sequence we’re on-set to watch is a battle in the “Evil Lair” of Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Chris D’Amico. D’Amico became superhero Red Mist in the first film, but has since reinvented himself as supervillain The Mother F**ker and switched up his crimson togs for some fetching S&M gear. “The first one was kind of out there,” he muses from within his sweaty PVC, “so we’re definitely aiming for that shock factor again.” The scene will climax with Hit-Girl taking a brutal beating from The Mother F**ker’s monstrous henchwoman Mother Russia. There will be broken glass involved.
“I’m still freaking out about it!” Moretz shrieks. “I have all these crazy things like crawling up her and bringing her down. I learned a whole new skill set and worked all sorts of different muscles. The first one was all guns and weapons, but this one’s more Muay Thai and Krav Maga. It’s this big collaboration of all these different things to show these two really skilled fighters.”
“We know our way around the fights a bit better this time,” Mintz-Plasse agrees. “There’s no animal violence though!” We point out that the Colonel’s dog is rather nastily killed and mutilated in Millar’s original graphic novel. “Yeah, you can’t do that on film,” he winces. “Nobody wants to see that. This isn’t 'Irreversible'!”
Another controversial scene from the source comic, The Mother F**ker’s rape of Kick-Ass’ girlfriend, has also been softened. “I was just thinking about what supervillains would actually do if they found out a superhero’s identity,” says Millar in his own defence. “They’d blow up his house and gang rape his girlfriend and kill has dad. Chris has this horrible line: ‘You’re about to discover what evil d**k tastes like…’” He giggles like a schoolboy listening to Derek and Clive. “But there’s a great pay-off in the film that makes it less offensive…”
So while blood, language and bad taste are still intact, perhaps the film is not quite so monstrous as Carrey may have led us all to believe. “It still comic book-style dark violence,” says Mintz-Plasse, “but it also still has comedy. It has to still be light and fun!”
'Kick-Ass 2', directed by Jeff Wadlow, is out in the UK 14 August 2013.