By 6pm on Thursday, I was convinced that Hall H had shown me everything that would possibly be of personal interest, much less professional obligation to cover. And even as the panel for Kick-Ass began, I expected little when director Matthew Vaughn stumbled over his words in an effort to explain what the film was about. But after an introductory clip that featured an aspiring superhero who plummeted to his death after diving off of a skyscraper in a homemade suit, my curiosity was piqued. What was more amazing was that almost all of the clips weren't merely surprising, filthy, and kind of all-around inappropriate, but that they were hugely entertaining, in that way you react to when you're watching something that feels familiar and brand-new at the exact same time.
Among the craziness contained in the Kick-Ass presentation and panel:
• Matthew Vaughn is either a terrible salesman or a terrific actor. I'm still wondering whether it was nervousness or misdirection that prevented him from setting up any of the film clips that were shown – especially since after the biggest one, the audience gave him a standing ovation, which is rare for Comic-Con notoriously fickle crowds.
• Speaking of that centerpiece clip, the material in it was sort of like watching the most awesome idea get into an accident with the worst: after a bumbling real-world hero finds himself in hot water, a pre-teen girl arrives to rescue him, literally decimating opponents with knives, guns and finally her bare hands.
• The film revolves around a kid who decides to become a superhero after being inspired by countless stories about costume-clad avengers. What he soon discovers is that the real world treats heroes a lot less kindly than the funny pages do, unless of course you're that pre-teen little girl. She was trained by her father, who is played by Nicolas Cage, and who nurtures her self-defensive instincts by shooting guns at her in dried-up reservoirs.
• Vaughn indicated that the film has yet to secure a distributor, but given the vociferous approval of the Comic-Con crowd, it will probably wrap up its release schedule and DVD distribution by the end of the convention. Certainly if a movie like Shoot 'Em Up can get a real release from a real studio, so can Kick-Ass, and this film seems to actually understand the difference between embracing action-movie conventions and sending them up, especially when it's doing both at once.
• The coolest moment in all of the footage is likely to make it into the theatrical trailer, but in the meantime, it features Hit Girl, that pre-teen sensation, as she reloads two guns mid-air and in slow motion while taking out an adversary. Prepare to be gobsmacked.