Back for a second round of fantastical vigilantism, the crew behind Kick-Ass 2 justifies the violent antics of their action-comedy by relating it to real world street politics and the everyday heroes that lead it.
After star Jim Carrey previously spoke out against the film on Twitter, declining to do publicity following the Sandy Hook shooting, his castmates offer a different opinion on whether films like their own endorse sadistic behavior.
Actors Morris Chestnut and Donald Faison agree: it’s merely a show.
“You’d have to be pretty far removed from reality, a reality base, to think that this is reality,” Chestnut tells theGrio. “It’s not going to encourage a person to do something that’s not already in them.”
On that note, Faison adds, “We warn everybody in the title: the name of the movie is Kick-Ass 2 and it has an R rating. If you’re not a fan of violence, don’t go see it. But don’t be crazy either. Over a billion tickets were sold for The Avengers, that’s a violent movie whether you want to believe it or not. In Superman, they destroyed a metropolis.”
Even recent events demonstrating the limitless nature of a vigilante doesn’t change their attitudes.
“It’s a movie,” they both reply.
Superheroes without a ‘moral code’
Unlike its glamorous or ostentatious counterparts, Kick-Ass 2 approaches the art of superheroism from a grittier, tongue-in-cheek, ground level perspective.
Otherwise ordinary city folks find their inner strength dressed in costumes, and team with a band of friends to fight crime.
As evil hath no bound or choice manifestation, good sometimes extends beyond an ethical clause, and the lines can get bloody.
“Superheroes have a moral code that they live by, and it seemed like in Kick-Ass that wasn’t the case,” says Faison, who joined the cast for the sequel as superhero Doctor Gravity. “It was survival on the streets, but still try[ing] to fight crime and I think that’s a more realistic version of what vigilantes would be.”
The heroes in Kick-Ass 2 distinguish themselves from the Clark Kents and Bruce Waynes of the universe as they bleed, ache, question, and feel the tinge of defeat like the rest of society.
A drawing point to the script, Faison appreciated his character’s vulnerability, though the 39-year-old admits he’d still be down for a blockbuster.
“If someone said to me, ‘Do you want to be in the next Batman?’ I’d say sure,” Faison remarks. “It would be called ‘Blackman.’”
Chestnut tackles racism in Hollywood
Chestnut also came on board the sequel as a first-timer, and takes on the less exciting role of Sergeant Marcus Williams.
A counter to the willful, outlandish and impetuous youth culture around him, the 44-year-old actor provides balance in the film, also playing parental guardian to Chloë Moretz’s character Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl.
Recently, Chestnut addressed his difficulty starting out as a dark-skinned actor in the movie business, and says he can appreciate the significance (or lack thereof) in that he’s now playing father to a white girl.
He recognizes the difference in past and present Hollywood.
“When I first started out many years ago, it was more about Prince and Michael Jackson and all that,” Chestnut explains. “It really wasn’t until Wesley [Snipes] came onto the scene and he had a sex scene in Mo’ Betta Blues, that he really kind of turned the corner for darker-skinned men.”
He adds, “The one thing I like about this movie, I don’t think race played a part in it. Everything was so seamless, it wasn’t something that they made a note to point out so I liked that aspect of it.”
Conversely, Chestnut appears to be dissatisfied with the current racial diaspora on television, and has set out to correct the situation his own way.
In July, the actor signed a TV deal with BET that will include an upcoming television series. He says he chose BET because he felt there was a “lack of certain programming” on network television, and sought a way to “express” himself.
He questions how TV has evolved from a time when stars like Martin Lawrence and Will Smith thrived to now, where few black male leads men carry the torch on the small screen.
“When the Cosby Show was on TV, it was the number one show on, and everybody was watching it,” Chestnut says, recalling a recent conversation he had with his friend. “It spawned A Different World. If I would have bet you then that 20 [or] 30 years later, there would be no African-American sitcoms on TV, but yet there would be an African-American man in the White House, how much money would you have made with that bet?…That’s the state of network television.”