Kick-Ass is a British-American 2010 superhero action-comedy film based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who co-produced with Brad Pitt and co-wrote the screenplay with Jane Goldman. Its general release was on 25 March 2010 in the United Kingdom and on 16 April 2010 in the United States. It is the first installment of the Kick-Ass film series.
It tells the story of an ordinary teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who sets out to become a real-life superhero, calling himself "Kick-Ass". Dave gets caught up in a bigger fight when he meets Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), a former cop who, in his quest to bring down the drug lord Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), has trained his eleven-year-old daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) to be the ruthless vigilante Hit-Girl.
Despite having generated some controversy for its profanity and violence performed by a child, Kick-Ass was well received by both critics and audiences. The film has gained a strong cult following since its release on DVD and Blu-ray. A sequel titled Kick-Ass 2 written and directed by Jeff Wadlow (with Vaughn returning as producer only) was released in August 2013, with Taylor-Johnson, Mintz-Plasse, and Moretz reprising their roles
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is an ordinary teenager who lives in Staten Island, New York City. Dave purchases a bodysuit and, after making modifications, embarks on a campaign to become a real-life superhero. He becomes the victim of a stabbing and a hit and run during the first of his crime-fighting encounters. This leaves him with multiple fractures and metal plates, all of which cause him to require extensive rehabilitation. In the process of recovery, he gains a capacity to endure pain and enhanced durability. In his absence from school, a rumor spreads that he is gay. As a result, his longtime crush, Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), immediately attempts to become his friend. After intervening in a gang attack, Dave's actions are recorded by a bystander and put on the internet, turning him into a celebrity. Calling himself "Kick-Ass", he sets up a Myspace account so he can be contacted for help. After responding to a request from Katie, he deals with a drug dealer, Rasul (Kofi Natei), who has been harassing her. Kick-Ass uses a taser against Rasul, but in the event, his thugs quickly overpower him. To his shock he is rescued by eleven-year-old vigilante Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), who kills Rasul first, and then kills all of Rasul's thugs and leaves with her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).
Big Daddy is Damon Macready, an honest former cop who was framed as a drug dealer by crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), which led his wife to commit suicide. Against the advice of his former partner Marcus (Morris Chestnut), Big Daddy trains his daughter Mindy to be a skilled crime-fighter and works to undermine D'Amico's operations. D'Amico believes Kick-Ass is responsible and targets him, impulsively killing a party entertainer dressed like Kick-Ass. D'Amico's son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), suggests a different approach. He assumes the role of the vigilante "Red Mist" in order to befriend Kick-Ass and lure him into a trap at D'Amico's lumber warehouse. When Kick-Ass and Red Mist arrive at the warehouse, Frank's men are dead and the warehouse is on fire. With the help of Chris's teddy cam, they find out it was Big Daddy who killed Frank's men and set the warehouse on fire.
Following his lucky escape, Dave decides to quit being Kick-Ass. He confesses the truth to Katie, and she forgives him and becomes his girlfriend. After finding a number of messages from Red Mist urgently requesting they meet, Dave decides to don his Kick-Ass costume one last time. At their meeting, Red Mist convinces Kick-Ass to call his allies, unwittingly luring Big Daddy and Hit-Girl into an ambush. Upon arriving at one of Big Daddy's safe houses, Red Mist shoots Hit-Girl out of a window, and D'Amico's men storm the place, capturing Big Daddy and Kick-Ass. One of Frank's bodyguards gleefully steals a bazooka that is mounted on the wall. Frank intends to have his thugs torture and execute his captives in a live Internet broadcast viewed by millions. Hit-Girl, having survived the shooting, storms the hideout and kills all of the gangsters. However, during the struggle, one thug sets Big Daddy on fire. Hit-Girl and Big Daddy say a tearful farewell before he dies of his injuries.
Hit-Girl infiltrates Frank D'Amico's headquarters, killing numerous guards and henchman on her way. During the battle in the penthouse she runs out of bullets. Kick-Ass arrives on a jet pack fitted with miniguns that Big Daddy had previously acquired, and kills the remaining thugs. Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl then take on D'Amico and his son. While Kick-Ass fights Red Mist in the training room, Hit-Girl is overpowered by Frank. As Frank aims his gun and prepares to finish off the defeated Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass comes to the rescue armed with Big Daddy's bazooka. Frank is blasted out of the window where he is exploded in mid-air.
Red Mist regains consciousness and grabs a samurai sword in the hope of killing Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl. However, he is too late and arrives in time to see Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl leaving on the jet pack. Mindy and Dave retire from crime fighting to live a more normal life, and Mindy returns to live with Marcus and enrolls at Dave's school. Dave has been told to look after Mindy, "not that she needs it." Dave is done with crime fighting, happy to have inspired a new "generation" of superheroes. Chris, still wearing his Red Mist outfit, is shown donning a new mask as he quotes Jack Nicholson as the Joker, "As a great man once said, 'Wait till they get a load of me'" and fires his gun.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as David "Dave" Lizewski/ Kick-Ass: Johnson said that Kick-Ass is a "sensitive guy" who lost his mother and is a "nobody" at school, so he creates his superhero identity "as this whole different persona." Johnson said that Dave is "a kid who’s got the guts to go out there and do something different." Christopher Mintz-Plasse originally auditioned for the role of Kick-Ass, but during the audition the producers believed that his acting was too loud and obnoxious for the lead, so they immediately gave Mintz-Plasse the role of Red Mist instead.
- Mark Strong as Frank D'Amico: The head of a criminal organization. Strong says he is drawn to playing the antagonist. He tries to "understand the purpose of the character", and then work on building a believable individual.
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl: Vaughn commented on the maturity of Moretz, who said that because she has four older brothers, she was no stranger to much of the language in the script. Her mother read the script and permitted her to use the profanity in the movie. Jane Goldman, one of the two co-writers of the script, said, "We just really wanted Hit-Girl to be a character who, in a sense, simply happens to be an eleven-year-old girl, in the same way that Ripley in Alien could have been a guy but the part happened to be played by Sigourney Weaver." Goldman said that Mindy "is genuinely dangerous, she's genuinely mad. It's not her fault: she's been raised in this environment where she doesn't know anything different. She's unwittingly part of a folie a deux."
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D'Amico / Red Mist: Frank D'Amico's son. Millar said that "the idea was that he was going to be a more minor character in the first film. Then we saw what Christopher Mintz-Plasse was capable of! [...] So the idea of McLovin' and the fun Red Mist doing something horrible is genuinely quite disturbing when you see it happen. We couldn't have got away with that with another actor. The minute we saw his performance, we were looking at each other and realised how good he was and what we could do with him in the future...." Mintz-Plasse said that when he first wore the Red Mist costume, he felt that it was entertaining and that he "looked so bad-ass." The actor sent photographs of himself in costume to his friends. Three weeks into the filming, Mintz-Plasse decided that the costume was not very comfortable and "a big pain in the ass." Mintz-Plasse wore the costume for 12 hours per filming day. Mintz-Plasse had to learn how to use a stick-shift in order to drive the Ford Mustang that is used in the film. Vaughn told Mintz-Plasse that the actor would have to pay for the car if he crashed it.
- Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready / Big Daddy: Vaughn described Cage's performance as a little bit Elvis and a little bit Adam West. A character in the film even says his costume looks like that of Batman. Cage was inspired by his costume to try delivering his lines in the same style Adam West used for Batman. The police officer father of an ex-girlfriend also influenced his performance; the habit of Big Daddy referring to Hit-Girl as "child" stems from the police officer.
- Lyndsy Fonseca as Katie Deauxma, Dave's longtime crush and eventual girlfriend
- Clark Duke and Evan Peters as Marty and Todd, Dave's two best friends
- Omari Hardwick as Sgt. Marcus Williams, former partner of Damon Macready
- Michael Rispoli as Big Joe, Frank D'Amico's right-hand man
- Kofi Natei as Rasul: A gang leader whom Dave (as Kick-Ass) challenges until Hit-Girl arrives to kill the gang members
- Corey Johnson as Sporty Goon
- Dexter Fletcher as Cody
- Jason Flemyng as Lobby Goon: The building doorman
- Xander Berkeley as Detective Victor "Vic" Gigante: A police officer working for D'Amico
- Garrett M. Brown as James Lizewski, Dave's father
- Elizabeth McGovern as Alice Lizewski, Dave's mother
- Sophie Wu as Erika Cho: Katie's best friend
- Yancy Butler as Angie D'Amico: Frank's wife and Chris' mother
- Deborah Twiss as Mrs. Zane: Dave's English teacher
- Craig Ferguson as Himself
- Katrena Rochell as Female Junkie
- Omar Soriano as Leroy, Rasul's doorman
- John Romita, Jr. as Atomic Comics barista
Series-creator Millar, a native of Scotland, asked Scottish television children's-show host Glen Michael to make a cameo appearance although his role was cut from the film. Millar was also set to make a cameo as a Scottish alcoholic but the scene was cut from the film. WCBS-TV news reporters Maurice DuBois, Dana Tyler, and Lou Young make cameo appearances.