Was there life before 'Kick-Ass'?

0

Comments

Add +

The USP of Matthew Vaughn's 'Kick-Ass' is that it's about real life superheroes. But what about Mystery Men?

For the next month or so, you won’t be able to leave the house without hearing the words ‘Kick-Ass’. Matthew Vaughn’s teen superhero epic is fast, funny and extremely violent, but it also seems to be labouring under a misapprehension: that the concept of normal, everyday superheroes is somehow original. The film even opens with our hero Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) complaining that, in the real world, no one but the police dresses up and fights crime.

In fact, they do. A few years ago, a film played at the Sci-Fi-London Film Festival called ‘Your Friendly Neighbourhood Hero’. This wise and very amusing doc followed the exploits of four real-life costumed avengers – known only as Superhero, Master Legend, Mr Silent and Hardware – as they plied their trade on the suburban streets where they lived. Their exploits were relatively tame – none of them took down a major crime ring or foiled a villain in his underground lair – but, like Kick-Ass, they were dedicated ordinary Joes intent on remaking society in their own image.

Even in the realm of fiction the concept of normal folks with no special talents teaming up to fight forces of evil is nothing new. Alan Moore’s graphic novel ‘Watchmen’ was perhaps the first to imagine what would happen if society was suddenly overrun with masked heroes – his conclusion being that they’d become fascistic, sexually perverse social outcasts. Last year’s film version of Moore's book turned the idea on its head by becoming exactly the kind of ultraviolent bonanza of special effects which Moore was satirising in the first place.

A decade ago, 'Mystery Men' brought the very same concept which fuels ‘Kick-Ass’ – give or take a few vaguely supernatural elements – into cinemas, and was largely ignored by the ticket-buying public. It’s a shame, because Kinka Usher’s film was a smart, original and hilarious subversion of the superhero genre which deserves a second look.

Just check out the cast list for 'Mystery Men': Ben Stiller plays Mr Furious, an ordinary guy convinced that his boundless inner rage makes him in some way special. Hank Azaria plays The Blue Raja, master of cutlery, while William H Macy brings his customary hapless warmth to the role of family man The Shoveller. There’s also room for Greg Kinnear as preening playboy Captain Amazing, Geoffrey Rush as master villain Casanova Frankenstein, Eddie Izzard as his sidekick Tony P, Janeane Garofalo as hipster hero The Bowler and the great Tom Waits as madcap inventor Doc Heller.

Sure, ‘Mystery Men’ plays things a lot broader and wackier than ‘Kick-Ass’. But it’s also sharper, more inventive and a lot funnier, taking the time to round out its lovingly drawn characters rather than just chucking them into another limb-slicing action sequence.

We’ve no doubt that ‘Kick-Ass’ is going to be a big box-office success. It’s got all the wisecracking, foul language and manic, intense violence that fanboys go nuts for. But once you’ve paid your money and got your kicks, give ‘Mystery Men’ a go: it would be a shame if this big-hearted, anarchic anti-blockbuster got lost in the shadow of its slicker but somehow less loveable offspring.

Author: Tom Huddleston



Users say



Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’